Monday, 6 July 2015

A seed sown in Suffolk- Walton Parish Nursing

In Mark Chapter 4 Jesus compares growth in the Kingdom of God to the growth of the mustard seed. From tiny beginnings it grows out of all proportion and provides shelter for birds and, presumably, people too. Such astounding growth is, He says, an example of how the Kingdom will grow.

Those of us involved in Walton Parish Nursing (Felixstowe) are beginning to marvel at the truth of that parable. Ten years ago the local Baptist Church had a vision to serve their local community. They did a survey of needs and found that people were concerned about their physical, mental and spiritual health. So they set about meeting that need by employing a Parish Nurse for a few hours each week, to use her nursing skills to minister to those needing them in the church community and beyond. A qualified and active nurse in her day job, and linked to the wider network of Parish Nursing worldwide, she was able not only to follow up on those with physical problems but also to pray with her clients as well.

Amazingly, in the ten years since its inception, Walton Parish Nursing has grown like the mustard seed in the parable. Through the generosity of the Baptists in sharing their scheme with two other churches we now have a truly ecumenical project run by Baptists, Methodists and Anglicans in equal parts.

We employ not just a Parish Nurse but a Parish Occupational Therapist too! They use their skills to head up a team of 19 part time volunteers working in our needy community. We run chair-based exercises, drop in clinics, baby weighing at a local authority children’s centre, Sole Mates (foot and leg care) and health education courses for anyone in Walton who wants to take advantage of them. Visiting, transport and advocacy are all part of the package too.

So our seed has grown into a tree with many branches that shelter and protect the vulnerable in this part of Suffolk. But the roots have grown too…those of us involved are amazed at the way that our faith has grown and deepened as we have seen God’s hand at work in the provision of key people, of finance which is all based on donations and grants, and in binding our churches together in a wonderful way. We really do feel part of the Kingdom of God!

Thank you to The East Anglia District and the Ipswich Circuit amongst others for on-going help in funding this project and if anyone has a desire to plant a Parish Nursing seed in their neighbourhood or wants to know more please do get in touch at

Heather Bentley ( Member of WPN management team and Seaton Road Methodist Church)