This how we began in Australia
Faith community nursing has its historical origins within the religious orders and deaconess movements of the early Christian church. The late Reverend Granger Westberg, Lutheran Pastor and strong advocate of holistic health care, reinvigorated this movement in the 1970s-80s by introducing parish nursing to the USA. Westberg realised that nurses had broad knowledge across the health disciplines, which provided the requisite professional linkages between the churches and the health care system that promoted care of the whole person.
The specialty of faith community nursing, formally commenced in Australia in February 1996, when a seminar to introduce the FCN role was held in Adelaide, South Australia. Five faith communities (1 Lutheran, 1 Anglican, 2 Roman Catholic parishes, and 1 ecumenical agency working with homeless youth) began a demonstration project later that year. AFCNA was formed in 1996 to support FCNs in their specialty nursing practice.
The first AFCNA quarterly newsletter was produced in May 1996. AFCNA was incorporated in May 1997 and held its first FCN preparation course in July 1997. Courses have been held most years since then in Australia and in New Zealand which has commenced its own association the ‘New Zealand Faith Community Nurses Association’ in 2000.
AFCNA is an ecumenical group and is not aligned to any specific denomination. It supports other denominational networks within Australia and seeks to work ecumenically with all Christian churches in a spirit of unity and cooperation.