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What is in a Name?

Have you looked up what your name means? When people ask you what you do, does your title explain itself? Does it reflect work you are feel represents who you are? Do you find yourself explaining what you do each day a little or a lot more?

For many, many years the title of my job has been parish nurse. Several years ago the national organization representing my professional group changed its name to Faith Community Nurse (FCN). I have resisted this change because change is hard and the new name seems long. After lots of consideration about what is in the meaning of a name, changing the title seemed like the obvious choice. Here’s why:

Parish Nurse…parish is a church word. It is a word that has fallen out of the world’s everyday vocabulary in many parts of the country, including here. If you are familiar with the word “parish” it could easily be interpreted as someone who only serves members of “our brand of church”…so sort of self serving only. Faith Community Nurse uses words familiar in our current cultural vocabulary. It indicates the position is supported by a faith based group and has an openness to all faith types, as opposed to an isolated church type.

The word “community” indicates a position that serves all people, not just members. This new job title reflects our call and values as a congregation to care for others both in the membership and outside it because our Faith calls us to be a Community and to serve the greater Community that we hear named in the Bible as our neighbor. Mark 12:31 is one such verse: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” There are MANY ways to love our neighbor, the work I am allowed or invited to do in my job at SOTH is just one of those many ways to love one’s neighbor. I am excited to have this title reflect our collective call to care for all God’s people!

I am sure when asked what I do for my job, I will still need to explain in more detail. Lots of folks are not aware that church communities have a role like this on staff, and are really impressed that faith communities care enough about real people and struggles to invest in this role. I am the lucky one who gets to share that message with them. Thank you for that!

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