Historically, the nursing profession has roots in the Christian concept of ministry. A caring ministry called for persons to serve their neighbours who were in need physically or spiritually. Persons were seen as wholes. As caring professions developed into separate and distinct entities, many continued to share a holistic view of people and to address similar needs. Nursing and pastoral care workers especially share concern for meeting common client patient needs; for example, providing concern and comfort, assisting persons to find meaning in their situation, responding to spiritual distress, and helping persons to experience hope. Many of the caring qualities of today's nurses are pastoral in nature, and contribute richly to healing. Examining nursing as ministry provides an opportunity to consider the nature of nursing as it moves into the 21st century.