By now you have been inundated with messages on the virus, how many tested, how many deaths, possible vaccines, phases of reopening and how this will affect our lives going forward. You have listened to the news on racial tensions, police brutality, looting and violence. All valid and extremely important information. However, sometimes I find myself sifting through all the words, anxiously awaiting to hear just one, HOPE! That intangible, but profound sense of HOPE.

We, by serving in our roles as minsters of health, have made sure that HOPE is alive, well and very tangible. We have heard stories, from many of you, of the amazing work being done across the country. We so appreciate our essential workers, but I hope you recognize that the work you are doing is essential also.

In many beloved movies, favorite books and in our religious writings there is reference to building up foundations. Whether they be literal foundations for buildings and homes or metaphorical foundations for nurturing a family or your own character. We are taught that you need sturdy footing in place for when the winds of change shift. We, as health ministers, have laid the groundwork, in our vocations, so when the storm of the virus raged our foundation didn’t collapse.
HMA was built on solid ground. Grainger Westberg was the pioneer that connected religion, medicine and “wholistic health” constructing the concept of health care being concerned with the body and the mind, but also the spirit. On September 28, 1989 The Health Ministries Association was established, our membership organization that continues to uphold the vital model of health ministries and parish nursing. While the storm of the virus raged, our foundation didn’t collapse.

One of our valued partners, American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is “committed to working towards societal changes that promote equity and justice and address the social determinants of health.” Many of you, our members, are in the trenches. You are expertly succeeding in ways you never have before, dutifully performing tasks you never dreamed of, considering where our work is crucial in days yet to come and faithfully preserving the cornerstone of health ministries.

The foundation of health ministry was tenderly laid, brick by brick. Over the years, with your hard work, the construction grew and formed into a sturdy and resilient structure we can be proud of fully. It was Winston Churchill who said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”. We shaped our ministry; thereafter it is shaping us. That, my friend, gives me HOPE!

Julie Ruchniewicz, BSN, RN
HMA Executive Director