March is a funny month, it never seems able to make up its mind if it is winter or spring. I have always liked March. Crocuses and daffodils emerging from the ground, the gradual warming of the air, all things identified with March.

Many beliefs and sayings have been inspired by March.  For example, Mark Twain says: “In the spring, I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” There is another saying, “If you don’t like the weather, stick around.” It can be sunny, warm, and wonderful turning to cold, storms and high winds with little to no warning.

Then there is always the much anticipated NCAA March Madness.  In Kentucky, there is palpable excitement from selection Sunday, to stress over filling out your bracket, to the final game.  March Madness is definitely a special time of the year.

However March presents for you this year, one thing you can depend on – spring is just around the corner, and summer is not far away.  Another thing you can be assured of this March, the Health Ministries Association is fully engaged and dedicated to the professional advancement of the organization’s vision.   To that end, there are numerous initiatives in planning and execution stages that are paving the way for change and growth in Health Ministry.

I hope you took the opportunity to review and comment on the Health Minister Guidelines.  The Health Ministry Education Committee has worked diligently over the past year to develop this document.  They will now be taking all comments and suggestions made by reviewers into consideration for revision.  When that process is completed, the guidelines will be printed and ready for distribution in late spring.

The work-group for the Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, 3rd Edition has received positive feedback, comments and request for additional content post review by the ANA. The work-group’s goal is to complete these additions in March, for the committee review in April.   This document will serve us well in defining the dimensions and impact of this nursing specialty today and moving forward.

I am pleased to announce our continued partnership through 2017 with the Center for Disease Control, National Center for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of Smoking and Health and the Plowshare Group.  Our continued collaboration is allowing us to bring comprehensive and relevant tobacco prevention information to our members and those they serve. Through strategic efforts of this partnership, HMA has implemented initiatives to support tobacco control priorities by reaching out to faith leaders, faith communities and faith related agencies nationwide.  This is such an important initiative for HMA, as health ministries and faith community nursing continue to define their roles in successful population health management efforts.

I hope all of you are planning to meet me in Northern Kentucky for the 2017 Health Ministries Conference.  The conference planning committee has been working since early December to build inspiring and solid content for this year’s conference. This committee has been focused on having professional speakers, relevant topics and “takeaways” that they could (and would) apply in their own lives and practices.  Conference attendees will be experiencing new conference formatting, like “The Hall of Excellence” for poster presentations.

People attend conferences to improve their skills, gain new ideas and network. They also want to be reinvigorated and inspired.  In my role on the conference planning committee I have had the opportunity to dialogue with each of the keynote speakers. I am awed by their background, expertise and passion.  A good keynote has the ability to take a story and apply it to the audience’s needs. I know that each and every one of our inspiring speakers will leave an impression, having you talking for months to come.  We want our guests and peers to be discussing those special conference moments long after the event comes to a close.

Make sure that you check out the additional information in the newsletter about the upcoming conference. I hope you make the commitment to attend and take advantage of the “Early Bird” registration offered by the Marriott.  I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can during your time in Northern Kentucky. I know you will leave this year’s conference energized and excited about the future of health ministries as I am.

I wish you good health and renewed energy as we merge into Spring!