“Hope and Help” is the theme for the 24th annual Concordia University Wisconsin Conference for Parish Nurse and Congregational Health Ministries, May 25-26.
Sixteen presenters and four keynote speakers will come to the university’s campus in Mequon from as far away as Colorado, Idaho and Kansas, addressing topics such as “The Ins and Outs of Mental Health and Illness in Youth,” “The Parish Nurse’s Impact After Trauma and Disaster,” “Sugar: Sweet But Silent Killer,” and “A Military Family’s Sacrifice: The Need for Support Before, During, and After Deployment.” Twenty individuals will speak over two days for the 93 parish nurses and LCMS pastors from 17 states who are attending.
“Dr. Carol Lueders Bolwerk’s passion for the parish nurse conference is phenomenal,” noted Dr. Sharon Chappy, Dean of Concordia’s School of Nursing. “She gets involved first-hand with all of the people attending.” Chappy went on to call this conference one of Concordia’s best mission fits. “The network of parish nurses is growing and becoming more widely known. What used to be a regional event is now expanding across the country,” Chappy added.
Bolwerk, who has overseen this conference since its inception in 1993, said this year’s theme of “Hope and Help” frames our ministries as clergy and faith community nurses. Since 2011, nearly 450 handmade prayer shawls have been distributed throughout the country, and over the years more than 10,000 greeting cards have been sent to individuals in correctional institutions. “This has turned into a national event,” Bolwerk noted, who praised a generous $20,000 grant from The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod that enabled first-time attending registered nurses serving LCMS churches as well as all LCMS clergy to come.
These conferences have introduced over 4,000 nurses, clergy and others to Christian caregiving, according to Bolwerk, as well as strategies to implement a wholistic, congregational health and parish nurse ministry. “As society becomes increasingly older and health care concerns rise, parish nurses will be making an even bigger difference and provide a support system to parishioners who they see on a weekly basis,” Chappy noted.
Bolwerk has already begun planning for the silver anniversary of the conference, “O Give Thanks,” May 24-25, 2017, which will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in October.