News from Region Five
Region 5 includes:
     Northern Great Lakes


 Michelle Knapp              Carol DeSchepper, Executive Director                             
Chicago, IL                                   Lake Park, Iowa                           

From Michelle:  I was born and raised in Chicago.  I always wanted to be a nurse like my Aunt Cora, who left her home in Stoughton, WI and went to the big city Chicago to become a nurse at the Deaconess Hospital ,graduating in 1939.  At the beginning of my nursing career I worked on pediatrics at Evanston Hospital where I received my nursing education. My nursing career moved on from there and I worked for four local pediatricians.  In the mid 1980’s. I was fortunate to hear Rev. Granger Westberg, the founding father of parish nursing, speak a Lutheran Church Women gathering in Chicago about the his dream of a new ministry – “nurses in churches”- parish nursing.

In 1985 Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge began hiring parish nurses. Those first nurses were primarily in the suburbs. A couple of years later Rev. Westberg approached some of the Chicago churches about hiring a parish nurse and he came to my home church Immanuel Lutheran to spread the story of parish nursing. I attended some of meetings at the church and met Rev. Westberg who encouraged me to interview for the position. And I was interviewed and was welcomed into the ministry of Parish Nursing.

In 1989 I became the parish nurse, full time and paid, at Immanuel Lutheran and the sister church Ebenezer Lutheran. And I was also an employee of Advocate Health Care. What an amazing journey it was and a blessing to be part of the parish nurse ministry for 28 years! I retired in December 2016 and my churches hired another parish nurse to continue the ministry! I stay active in the parish nurse movement by serving here on the ELPNA Board. Oh, and my Aunt Cora was a member of the church’s Health Cabinet as we began the ministry at Immanuel! 

I am one of the parish nurses on the video listed here on the ELPNA website "The Spirit of Healing...." produced by Advocate Health Care.


From Carol:  I graduated from Augustana University in Sioux Falls with a Bachelor’s in Nursing.  In 1978 I received a Master’s in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX.  Then in 1986 I received a Master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of MN. 

My entire career was with Avera in Sioux Falls, retiring in July 2014.  I worked as a staff nurse, educator, clinical nurse specialist, Nurse Executive, Nurse consultant to the Health System, Vice President of Quality Integration and Director of the Avera Parish Nurse Center.  I also have served as primary faculty for the Augustana College Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course for many years. 

I attended the Concordia Parish Nurse Course in 1998 and while I’ve not served as a Faith Community Nurse in a congregation, I have served as a FCN coordinator for 20 years.  In my role as Director of the Parish Nurse Center at Avera I assisted congregations in starting faith community nursing, offered networking opportunities or FCNs, and otherwise supported them in their ministry. I am also trained as a Spiritual Director/companion.

Currently, I am the ELPNA Executive Director and am an active volunteer at my church, First Lutheran Church in Milford, IA.  While we don’t have a formal faith community nurse program in our congregation, other nurses and I continue to plant seeds and seek to demonstrate the value of a faith community nursing ministry.  We trust that God will lead the congregation in knowing when and if a formal ministry should be launched.  I also am a leader for the First Lutheran Stephen Ministry and lead other small group ministries.  

It brings be great joy to serve God in my church, in spiritual direction, and through this organization.  



COVID Resources for Illinois
The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation, or The Center, was formed to transform the health of our communities through faith-rooted, collaborative action. We work to create health equity by building community, nurturing leaders and connecting with the unique spirit power of faith communities to promote social justice and abundant life for all.

Advocate Faith Community Nurse Program

Advocate Aurora Health Faith and Health Partnerships Newsletter

To sign up for the monthly newsletter providing updates on resources and events to support the well-being of people in your congregation and community, click on this link:



Greetings from the Evangelical Lutheran Parish Nurse Association (ELPNA)
 We have an exciting opportunity for Lutheran congregations. Members of the ELPNA have long been supportive of new parish nurse ministry start-ups and are acutely aware of the challenging financial situations of congregations. In response to this need, the ELPNA will annually provide funds for start-up or development of a new focus in an existing parish nursing ministry, for a minimum of two (2) Lutheran congregations. Congregations can request up to $750.00 in grant funding.

 A comment from a congregation that has a parish nursing ministry: 

 Pastor Cheryl Mathison – St. Philip the Deacon

We are so grateful to have our parish nurse at St. Philip the Deacon.  Her creative energy, passion for health and deep faith help us to reach out to more people in new ways.  We are so thankful for the grant, which has helped us to meet the needs of this large faith community.

We are asking for your assistance in publicizing the information to Lutheran congregations. Grant applications are due by May 1st, 2021 via an electronic submission process. The awards will be announced within a month of the deadline with funds issued within the 30 days of approval of the grant.  Application forms are available on the website.   

We are pleased to be able to award these grants to promote and support parish nurse ministry.
The ELPNA Scholarship & Grants Committee

Click here for the application form

A Note from your Region 5 Representative:

With the help of the list of churches in Region 5 on the ELCA website, I've been looking for the parish nurses in our region by looking at church websites.  If you know of parish nurses, please let me know so I might reach out to them.   
Please send me news about what's going on in your area of Region 5 so we can publicize the events for you here on the website.  Is there anyone out there who would like to help organize a gathering for faith community nurses in our region?  Let me know.
Also I'd like to share our stories here on the website about how we became parish nurses and what our ministry is like at our church.  If you like to participate, email me.
Blessings to you and your ministry!

Michelle Knapp RN    -     retired (after 28 years)! but still active in Parish Nurse Ministry!
Advocate Health Care Faith Community Nurse                                     
                                           Ebenezer Lutheran Church & Immanuel Lutheran Church                               
                                           Chicago, Illinois
                                                   cell (773) 936-4751

Resources and Education

You can find helpful resources for your church here on ELPNA website and at the Church Health Center's website -  If you are looking for a Foundations of FCN course, you can find information about the ones coming up there too!  

Updated 4/21