Church holds monthly health clinic
First Christian Church Lawton is doing more than meeting people's physical needs; it's also reaching out to help physical needs by hosting a Community Nursing Program.
On the first Wednesday of each month, before the church's weekly Agape Meal, three nurses from the church use their skills to assist those within the homeless community and members of the church's congregation with all their health needs, along with spiritual and mental needs.
The Agape Meal a free meal starting at 6 p.m. each Wednesday was started in March. Community Nursing Program followed this summer; it's at 5 p.m. only on the first Wednesday of the month. The church provides the program for free.
Kathy Cooper is a registered nurse and is the Lawton site coordinator and an assistant professor of the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing at Cameron University. She was the one who approached the church's pastor, Brandon Johnson, about establishing the program. During each program, Cooper is joined by retired registered nurses Ro Bielinski and Hilde Bilvais. Cooper ran the parish's nurse course a long time ago and has always had a heart for community health, which was the focus of her master's degree in at OU.
"I felt like there was a real need to help people here in our church," Cooper said. "And Brandon has certainly raised awareness of that as well. So I approached Brandon about opening a health clinic before the Agape Meal, because people were coming for that meal anyway, so that we could provide some health teaching and some health education, some screening and whatever they needed for some kind of spiritual or emotional healing or support."
Johnson became pastor over a year ago, and one of his main goals was to open the church up more to the community. He believes Cooper's idea was powerful.
"We've always wanted to do more than just hand out food," Johnson said. "We wanted to surround people with opportunities to better their lives for transformation. ... We open a classroom downstairs and people are simply invited to come in. I thought it was a really good idea because it does fit into that idea of being more than just a handout place, but being a place where people can feel safe and provide resources for them."