Personalizing our church family’s love

What congregation doesn’t need people with gifts of teaching and administration? Many tasks require someone who is good at interacting with people, quick with Christian insight and encouragement, and being generally helpful.

Did you think “parish nurse” when you read the description above? Maybe you’ve never had such a position and think it an unnecessary addition to the church worker list. But WELS churches with an active parish nurse program will strongly recommend it. “Church family” evokes an image of caring for each other, and parish nursing personalizes that love.

A WELS parish nurse is a currently licensed Registered Nurse (RN) who promotes both physical and spiritual wellness in the congregation. The parish nurse conducts a wellness-based and non-invasive practice, and the ministry is performed according to the congregation’s mission statement and under the direction of the pastor.

Christ Lutheran Church, Eden Prairie, Minn., summarizes the work this way: “The primary purpose of the congregation is to spread the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ. In addition, a congregation serves as a ‘home’ and a ‘family’ to its members who have not only spiritual needs but also physical, emotional, and psychological needs . . . The Ministry. . . is one way to encourage this sharing of God’s love and the growth of faith among those with special needs related to health.”

Well-trained parish nurses can be a great blessing to your family of faith. Pastor Mike Woldt of David’s Star Lutheran Church, Jackson, Wis., lists these advantages:

    • Good training will help parish nurses share the law and gospel message of Scripture with the people they serve.
    • Good training will help parish nurses function within the framework of the congregation and in partnership with the called leaders of the church.
    • Good training will help parish nurses recognize opportunities for serving God’s people with the abilities they possess and the skills they have cultivated as practicing nurses.

Learn more at the Parish Nursing area of, the website of WELS Nurses Association.



Reminiscence From a Retired Nurse

For those of you too young to remember I will share a story from nursing school; when we attended class at the hospital! My story begins with my joy of being Lutheran and my love for nursing. I was able to hold onto both even as I attended classes at Milwaukee County General Hospital in their School of Nursing. My joy came from the interaction we had with Pastor Arnold Schroeder, who was the Chaplain at the hospital. He was the original model for what is now known as “Institutional Ministries” in the WELS. He was fantastic with the patients, and we were also blessed to have him as a guest lecturer each year (yes, even for a public education program). The focus of his talk with us was how we could serve God through our careers. To be a Lutheran and have one of our pastors come and give such an inspiring message made me so proud and feeling blessed. Pastor Schroeder was truly a gifted speaker.

Years later as I was working as a nurse on a psychiatric unit, the words of Pastor Schroeder became very useful. The patients were challenging, the staff very supportive and yet we all struggled to keep going some days. I was known to many as the “WELS lady,” as I shared the joy of my faith, my church family in Muskego, and the happiness I felt by singing in the choir. There were other Lutherans on staff from St. Philip’s in Milwaukee and we must have made an impression on people as there was a real effort made by them to act in both word and deed in a Christian manner. I know that approaching our work from this viewpoint helped us find ways to bring peace to the unit and could feel more confident in our own safety. At the time, while still in school, I didn’t understand how writing a spiritual assessment for my patients would be a vital skill in my career. I approached this part of the care plan from my Lutheran faith and am so grateful to have had this foundation, and I am sure is why I received A’s.

By Gail Maxwell, RN
(edited by Wendy Crary-with permission)



A Resourceful RN

I am one of several nurses in our small, rural church in Fairfax, Minn. Over the years, I have found that when a member of our congregation needs medical assistance during a service or event, the only tools I had at my disposal in church were my hands and my watch. As an ICU nurse in a local hospital, I am used to having all the necessary nursing tools for any situation that arises. We do not have a formal parish nurse program in our church, so this is when Thrivent Choice Dollars came to the rescue! I applied for a Thrivent grant in the amount of $250 to help with some basic parish nursing supplies for our church. With this money, I purchased a manual blood pressure cuff (with two sizes of cuffs) and a battery operated, automatic blood pressure cuff for the congregation to use if one of our nurses are not present. I bought a stethoscope, CPR masks, large first aid kit, gloves, ice packs, hand gel and cleaning wipes (for use on the equipment in between patients). All of these items were placed in a clear bin for all to see and use and is located in the narthex of the church for easy access. I would encourage everyone to use their Thrivent Choice Dollars to jump start their parish nursing program!
By Amy Buboltz, BSN, RN



News and notes: Fall 2017

Welcome new Council Members: Mary Bruskewitz and Kristi Opper have kindly offered to join our small team and add their God given talent to our efforts! We welcome you with open arms, and pray you find the work fulfilling.

Spring Conference—Mid April 2018, at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn.: With an excursion planned to Bethany Lutheran College’s new Nursing Program for a tour of the facility and fellowship. Stay tuned for more specifics as the Council and Conference Planning team finalize arrangements.

Parish Nurse Course: Online Summer 2017 had students from California, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Keep these nurses in your prayers as they apply that knowledge and they establish a parish nurse ministry in their congregation and a big thank you to Christian Aid & Relief for the matching funds grant to help with tuition costs!

Stateside Opportunity—Nurse Coordinator: Have a love for missions? The Central Africa Medical Mission is looking for a Registered Nurse to serve on our stateside committee. While the nurse coordinator must be an RN, extensive knowledge of CAMM is not necessary. Those interested must be WELS or ELS and have a willingness to learn about the influence CAMM has on those we serve in Zambia and Malawi. Please contact Linda Liesener at or Shelly Sievert at





Online parish nursing course

Wisconsin Lutheran College is offering an online non-credit certificate course in parish nursing that will run from June 5 to July 28, 2017.  Designed for the experienced RN and the novice, the coursework will develop a Christian understanding of tools needed to develop or work in a parish nurse program, including how to:

  • Foster a relationship with your church’s leadership team.
  • Utilize health assessment skills to evaluate and address your parish’s health care and nursing needs.
  • Prepare for and understand the process of Faith Community Nursing Certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

The fee for the course is $600, but WELS Nurses Association is offering ten scholarships of $200. This will be awarded if the nurse contributes $200 and the congregation contributes $200, which ensures that both the nurse and the congregation are invested in a future parish nurse ministry.

Register by May 15 at:

Questions about the course may be directed to:
Professor Lisa LeBlanc, MSN, RN, CNL



Unexpected blessings

Sometimes, blessings come that are totally unexpected. Mid-December I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am told this was caught early, is low grade, and my prognosis very good. Thank the Lord! That being said, I still need to get through all the tests, a lumpectomy, and a re-excision, radiation, and anti-estrogen therapy.

What has come as an unexpected blessing is the care of the staff attending me, from the office clerk asking if this was my first time in the cancer center and with a tender smile reassuring me that I would be alright, to the doctors and nurses who really listen to my questions, answer them no matter how silly, and follow-up when they see me next.

I am also blessed by our children, neighbors, and church family who tirelessly send cards, call or stop in just to talk, offer their time when my husband can’t get away to take me to the endless doctors’ appointments and bring food!

Another unexpected blessing came to my door from the UPS delivery man. A rather large box arrived and in it was a beautiful handmade quilt and journal from the WELS Comforter Ministry! I had been referred by a dear friend to Su Hanson, from Manitowish Waters, Wis., who founded the Comforter Ministry in 2005. Their mission is one of comfort and compassion, reaching out to women with cancer with God’s Word through journals and quilts. I cherish my beautiful quilt as it gently reminds me of God’s love and compassion for me.

The reason why I share this with you? To encourage you, as the Lord provides opportunity, to show compassion and comfort to someone in need. I didn’t realize how much these things meant until I was on the receiving end.

Want to learn more about the Comforter Ministry? E-mail or go to You could pray for the ministry, help financially, make and donate a comforter according to criteria already set up, help promote this ministry in your congregation, and request a comforter/journal be sent to a special woman diagnosed with cancer!

Shout for joy, O heavens; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:13

Your sister in Christ,
Sue Bolha



WELS Lutherans for Life Associated Pregnancy Services—New Initiative!

“The process of converting WELS Lutherans for Life’s pregnancy center to a medical clinic is underway and we would like to present an exciting opportunity to WELS RNs who might like to be involved with pregnant mothers seeking all variations of services. The clinic is staffed with client advocates who have been trained and educated in our pro-life efforts and they will be responsible for meeting with the clients to assist them in whatever way possible. The RNs in the clinic will operate in a professional capacity by overseeing and directing all medical aspects of our work, such as the pregnancy testing, medical history and assessment, possible STI/STD testing, and medical education of the client. Those RNs who are interested in becoming proficient in obstetrical ultrasound may also have the opportunity to train for such a skill.

We are hoping to staff a variety of shifts (weekdays and one evening) averaging four hours at a time.  Our schedule is flexible in the hours offered to serve the needs of our clients without making any demands on our volunteers.

If you are interested, I would love to have a conversation with you about this exciting opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the women who walk through our doors. I am happy to answer any questions you may have and to explore this option further. Obstetrical experience is not a requirement but a current Wisconsin state license is. Please feel to free to call me on my personal phone (262-442-8961) at any time or leave a message at the center so that I may return your call. Thank you for considering this wonderful opportunity to help us in our mission to save the lives of babies!”

Written by Pam Manske BSN RN, nurse manager— Associated Pregnancy Services




News and notes: Spring 2017

Parish Nurse: Online Course Summer 2017- open for enrollment, closes May 15. See the Announcement Section of for more details.

Spring Conference is ready for registration!  The conference will be held on Fri., April 21 (evening gathering) and Sat., April 22 all day, at the Center for Mission and Ministry, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Dr., Waukesha, Wis. Our theme for this year is “Christian Nurses Ministering to Those Who Struggle” and our guiding Bible verse is: Mathew 26:41 “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptations. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Please know that there is an attendance option for joining us remotely. We will be live-streaming the sessions.

Bethany Lutheran College in Minnesota will be starting the first cohort of nursing students this Fall 2017 Semester. How wonderful for them to have reached this point in their initiative. We will continue to pray for their success and strength of character as they lead these future nurses through the education process.

ELECTIONS! The WELSNA Council is asking that each of you prayerfully consider joining our group in the role of communications coordinator or treasurer. Both positions are open for nominations this year and voting will begin in April both electronically and at the Spring Conference. Please see our WELSNA homepage for more details.

Coming in next newsletter: Interviews with our Spring Conference Speakers.




Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain

Contentment is defined as being pleased and satisfied; as not needing more. When looking back on September, contentment has been a theme at the Central Africa Medical Mission—feeling content and the lack thereof.

At clinic this month, we changed our transport system. Our staff were paying their own bus fare to a central drop off point and our ambulance was picking them up. We were reimbursing them as a perk of working for us; it is common for facilities do that for their staff here in Malawi. Now we have a privately hired bus to collect and drop them closer to their homes. It provides many benefits to clinic. It saves wear and tear on the ambulance; it saves on the cost of diesel; and it saves money in the reimbursement of the staff. While Alison and I are satisfied with the new program, the staff is less than pleased.

Since I’ve been here, we have instituted some changes.  All of them have been met with resistance. It seems Malawians dislike change as much as the rest of us. After time, they generally come around or, even better, they think the new program is great and are pleased we have instituted it. One of the best examples is the savings program we encourage our employees to participate in. Thanks to Alison’s great initiative, our staff members have savings goals and are more financially responsible. We hope that soon the staff will also see the wonderful benefits of our new transport program and be content.

I’ve been reading and meditating on St. Paul’s letters to Timothy lately. “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
In Malawi, it’s funny the things that make me content—things I took for granted in the U.S. A regular and uninterrupted water and power supply tops my list.  It is a good day when I come home after being at clinic and have electricity to make lunch. It’s an even better day when I can come home and rinse away the dust and sweat I accumulated while at clinic! As Paul writes, I have food and clothing, I need to be content with that—all the rest is just a bonus! St. Paul also reminds us to “put our hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment…to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Timothy 6: 17-18) God has certainly richly blessed me with much for my enjoyment, especially while I have been here in Malawi—good friends and Malawian “family,” great adventures and travel, a job I love, and the opportunity to serve him.

At Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM), specifically the Lutheran Mobile Clinic (LMC) here in Malawi, we have much to be grateful for. We have generous supporters who are willing to share with us, to help us to do good, to be rich in good deeds. We have great employees who are able to share the gospel with the people we are serving in Chichewa. And we have the abilities to care for them physically—to cure their malaria, to help them manage their pain, to provide them extra portions of food. I pray the Lord continues to richly bless you and that we remain content with the earthly gifts bestowed upon us. I pray that we use those earthly gifts to serve him to the best of our abilities and that through us he is glorified.

Written by Amanda Oswalt, Nurse in Charge, CAMM




Why Does He Do That?

I recently attended a presentation titled “Understanding Domestic Abuse,” by Pastor Nathan Ericson of Martin Luther of Oshkosh, also the Special Ministries coordinator of the WELS Northern Wisconsin District. I attended because a member of my extended family is abusive, and while I personally am largely removed from the situation due to distance, I am still concerned for that family’s wellbeing and safety. I keep them in prayer. Perhaps you know someone too?

Lundy Bancroft, a leading expert in dealing with abusive men, wrote in “Why Does He Do That?” that two to four million women are assaulted by their partners per year in the United States. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared that attacks by male partners are the number one cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. The American Medical Association reports that one woman out of three will be a victim of violence by a husband or boyfriend at some point in her life. I would imagine that my family is not the only one within WELS impacted by domestic violence.

Pastor Ericson shared that abuse is not . . . a psychological problem or an alcohol problem or an anger control problem, although they all can make abuse worse. All these characterizations are ways we minimize the reality of abuse. Abuse is not a sixth commandment “marriage problem.” Abuse is a violence problem that involves attitudes of contempt and entitlement, a fifth commandment lack of respect for health and life.

Pastor Ericson talked of the reasons that women don’t easily leave an abusive relationship and the complexity, and even the potential danger, of that decision. He shared some thoughts on divorce and talked of proper counseling. Typical couples counseling can send the wrong message and even put the woman at risk. As a parish nurse my role would be to refer abuse victims to the pastor and trained specialists. Christian Family Solutions or a local women’s shelter will be able to help. Pastor Ericson and Lundy Bancroft both emphasize that the abuser, himself, requires a specific abuser program or counseling specialist.

How can we as God’s people best help the abuse victim? There are three roles that family and friends typically take. The Distancer tends to withdraw and remove themselves emotionally from their abused loved ones. The Rescuer tends to become too involved in relationships. A healthy relationship requires mutual trust and respect. The role of Anchor requires listening and seeking to understand, accepting her as she is. Avoid putting pressure on the victim to take action, but support her in the actions she chooses to take. Good listening skills are critical!

We can encourage the victim with appropriate use of Scripture. Not as a bandage (“You shouldn’t be afraid, because Jesus is with you!” but as an encouragement (“Jesus sees what you are going through. He will help you”). Pray for the victim.

Another good resource, recommended by Pastor Ericson, for your library? “Helping Her get free—A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women” by Susan Brewster, M.S.S.W.

A helpful website,, provides spiritual resources for those who have survived abuse and those helping them.

I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this issue. I pray that I am able to respond to those affected by domestic violence . . . as an anchor, offering a healthy, trusting relationship.

Written by Sue Bolha, PN at David’s Star Lutheran



A Window into the Womb

“Before I formed you in the womb,
I knew you.
Before you were born,
I set you apart”
(Jeremiah 1:5).

Silence? Darkness? What is it like in the womb?  Pressing gently to my abdomen, I can’t feel anything. It must just be a blob of tissue. Yes, I’m sure that’s all it is.  And now the counselor asks if I would like to have an ultrasound.  At least then I would know that the pregnancy is real . . . real what?

These questions swirl through the minds of Associated Pregnancy Services (APS) clients as they face a positive pregnancy test. Even before they come to us, they may have determined that an abortion is their only option and the sooner the better. Our mission is to point them to other options. But first the groundwork must be laid. We must help them see LIFE!

Enter the ultrasound suite. As the transducer passes over my client’s abdomen, the silence is broken. “Whoosh – the sea of amniotic fluid flows gently around the “little one.” A soft, rhythmic “lub” joins the sounds this mother hears. She suddenly realizes this is real. This is LIFE!

Statistical research tells us that 80 percent of abortion-minded pregnant women who view an ultrasound make the decision to carry the baby to term. It is for this reason that being able to provide “a window to the womb” during a woman’s vulnerable decision-making process is such a vital part of helping her to see the child for what it is – a life!

A grant from Focus on the Family in conjunction with a program called The Life Choice Project from The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates has allowed the staff at APS to undertake the task of converting their services to a medical clinic. Such a conversion will allow them to perform limited obstetrical ultrasounds as a part of their work. In the future, the clinic would also like to offer free testing for STI/STD. Many regulations, policies, and procedures must be planned for and followed to make all of this happen. The goal is to have this conversion to a medical clinic completed by May of 2017.

Please watch for further updates on the project. Pro-life work goes on every day by the staff of the APS, located at 8501 W. Lincoln Avenue in West Allis, Wis. “Saving the life of a child, transforming the family from at risk to thriving, and doing it all again tomorrow” has been our mission for many years.

Written by Nurse Manager Pam Manske RN BSN




News and notes: Fall 2016

October 22, “Nurses in WELS: a gathering of professionals” is meeting at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Fond du Lac, Wis. for a day of spiritual encouragement, education, networking and fellowshi. Haven’t registered but wonder if you might join us at the last minute? Call Sue Bolha at 262-677-3485 to let us know that you’re coming. We’ll make sure there is a folder and a spot at the table set just for you. Go to for more information. Not able to join us? We plan to video tape our speakers and post it online for you to watch at your own convenience. We’ll let you know when that is posted.

The Bethany Lutheran College nursing program was approved by the MN Board of Nursing on Aug. 4, 2016. Congratulations and our continued prayers! They are currently posting for a full-time, nine-month faculty position in the proposed Bachelor of Science in nursing. Bethany is a Christian liberal arts college owned and operated by the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. For more information, contact Dr. Sara Traylor, PhD, RN, CNE, and Director of Nursing at  or 507-344-7754. For a full job description, qualifications and application process, visit:

Considering the possibility of serving in your congregation as a faith community nurse? Wisconsin Lutheran College is putting the final touches on another online Faith Community Nursing Course, designed for both the experienced RN and the novice to be offered during the summer of 2017. The coursework will develop a Christian understanding and the tools needed to develop and volunteer as a faith community nurse. A matching funds grant has been awarded to WELSNA to help the RN and the congregation with the course fee by Christian Aid & Relief. Let us know of your interest. More information is coming soon.

Have you been asked to research health-related or medication administration forms for your church school? As more and more of our schools are going through the accreditation process, our nurses or school secretaries have been asked to look into this, leading them to contact WELSNA. Keeping in mind that not all of our schools will have the same needs with regard to these types of forms and each state may have different regulations for the parochial schools in that state, WELSNA would suggest an internet search of the regulations in your state. Try Googling your state’s parochial school medication administration forms. That being said, we have included several examples of forms used in one of our schools for you to see. They are not an official WELS form to be used by all of our schools. Just something for you to check out and perhaps adapt to meet your needs. Go to under “Parish Nurse Resource Library” to view a medication policy and administration form, a food allergy care plan, and an asthma inhaler administration authorization form. Feel free to edit them to suit your needs.






Parish nursing – doing what is right and good

Written by Sue Bolha RN, Parish Nurse Council Coordinator in collaboration with Linda Golembiewski, RN, BSN and former adjunct at CUW, teaching Legal Aspects of Parish Nursing.

One of our WELS pastors recently asked about the legal ramifications of a parish nurse practice. What might a parish nurse be officially authorized to do? Any nurse, regardless of the setting in which he/she practices is guided by the policies and statutes set forth by the state in which the nurse is licensed. Since the statutes may vary from state to state it is neither necessary nor wise to make an all-inclusive policy for WELS parish nurses. It is, however, wise and necessary to review some guidelines as they apply to the unique nursing opportunities associated with parish nursing.

Liability: The Nurse Practice Act and State Statutes of the state in which the parish nurse is licensed to practice must be followed. A violation of these standards of practice constitutes unprofessional behavior and may result in the suspension, revocation and non-renewal of the nursing license. A congregation must be respectful of the standards by which a parish nurse must operate. It is a good idea to check with the church liability insurance and clarify any issues that arise. It is also a good idea, but not required, for a nurse to carry her own liability insurance.

HIPAA regulations may affect the practice of a parish nurse practice. Good communication with the members of a congregation and good documentation by the nurse will help maintain a proper program.

Types of Service: The underlying philosophy of the parish nurse program supports a non-invasive health & wellness practice, functioning under the roles of health educator, health counselor, community liaison and volunteer coordinator. Examples of a non-invasive practice might include a visitation ministry, health fairs, and health education programs, leading an exercise class, blood pressure screenings or bereavement follow-up.

Delegated Duties: The parish nurse (RN) is accountable for duties of delegation carried out in the parish nursing program guided by a job description.

Staffing: The parish nurse program is directed by a registered nurse currently licensed in the state in which he/ she serves. The parish nurse serves as a reflection of the congregation, and consequently, must serve in a manner that is consistent with the congregation’s overall ministry.
The most effective parish nurse programs include a group of nurses working together. Although not required, the additional nurses provide broader service and expertise to the program. Non-RN’s can serve within the program, but only under the direction and authority of the parish nurse (RN) and within legal guidelines.

This information on the legal issues surrounding parish nursing and more can be found in the Suggested Guidelines for WELS Parish Nursing posted on on the Parish Nurse page. More questions? Contact us at

Why would a congregation benefit from a parish nurse program? A healthier congregation is better able to serve the Lord and his people! And as the parish nurse intentionally cares for both body and soul he/she will find ways to connect them to God’s Word, giving strength to his people.


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