Evangelical Lutheran Parish Nurse Association

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ELPNA History

The Evangelical Lutheran Parish Nurse Association (ELPNA) is a nonprofit, 501c3 membership organization.  It is comprised of registered nurses who are parish nurses affiliated with an ELCA or other Lutheran congregation or as an ELCA/other Lutheran congregational member serving another denomination.  The organization was founded in 2004, with the first membership list of 65 parish nurses in the Minneapolis and St. Paul Area Synods of Minnesota. The organizational committee consisted of:  Sandy Connell, Sue Ann Glusenkamp, Carolyn Torp, Barbara Zell, Wanda Alexander, Tammy Devine, Brenda Hawkinson, Valborg Tollefsrud, Annette Langdon, Mary Nordtvedt and Diane Waarvik. Bishop Craig Johnson was very supportive during this process.  In 2008 the ELPNA expanded to a National organization under the leadership of Annette Langdon.  Since then a National Board of Directors has provided leadership with representatives from 8 of the 9 ELCA Regions.  There is a listing of the regions on this website and what synods they represent.  (See Regions)

The website was originally started in Region 3 and has now come under the management of the national board and the ELPNA Communications Committee. Each region welcomes input from ELPNA members. Check with your regional director who will help make the necessary arrangements to add the content to the website.

During the course of development this organization has worked with the ELCA Churchwide office and came under their 501c3 auspices in 2010.  ELPNA is considered an Independent Lutheran Organization recognized by churchwide in their annual yearbook.  ELPNA has worked very hard to have a presence at many the churchwide gatherings since Minneapolis in 2009. The organization sets up an area by the paramedics with lounge chairs and a restful environment or offers other amenities that give opportunity for interaction with attendees. Discussion about parish nursing takes place, minor nursing care is provided and prayer is offered to all who enter the area. The organization has also been at national WELCA (Women of the ELCA) triennial gatherings, Men in Mission conferences and National Youth Gatherings.  ELPNA has also had a presence at the Westberg Symposium.

Luther Seminary in St Paul, MN has provided much support to ELPNA with meeting and retreat space as well as a wealth of educational speakers.  The campus had a parish nurse that worked to help develop classes for parish nursing at the seminary level.  

Growing a national organization is a significant undertaking. ELPNA is an entirely volunteer effort.  The board welcomes input from all Lutheran parish nurses across the country.  The main communication is through the website and thanks to Phyllis Bruce (Minneapolis) and the work of the National Communications Committee, it has continued to expand and grow to meet many needs.  It is hopeful that special events and gatherings of the ELPNA can be live streamed throughout the USA.

The national ELPNA organization consists of up to three directors from each of the 9 ELCA regions.  An election is held by the membership every fall.  The Executive Committee consists of a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.  The board meets monthly via Zoom to conduct business. Minutes are available on the website. Dues for the organization are $40 for one year, $60 for two years, and $300 for a lifetime membership.  Out of this fee, 50% of the amount goes to the regional account where the member works or lives and  50% goes to the national treasury. 

The membership is open to Registered Nurses who have completed a Parish Nurse Preparation course and are paid, unpaid, or retired parish nurse staff.  They may work within an ELCA or other Lutheran congregation or be a member of a Lutheran congregation and work in a church of another denomination.

Your membership and input is vital to our growth and presence at the ELCA gatherings.  Please consider joining us and supporting this vital network of parish nurses.  Questions and information can be directed to your regional representatives or to any of the other board members.

Blessings to each of you as your ministering to so many continues to fill your hearts.

June Sand RN, BSN
Faith Community Nurse
Region 3 member, former Treasurer

In Honor of Valborg Tollefsrud, RN   

By Ann Rabie, St. Paul, MN, Region 3

I first met Valborg in 1958 at Fairview Hospital, where she was teaching Nursing.  She was very helpful and supportive of us as the first class of the St. Olaf College Nursing program.

She went on to earn both her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Education in Nursing at the University of MN and became a Professor at St. Olaf.  She was excellent in that position and took groups of Nursing Students to Vellore, India for courses in the “Provision of Health Care in a 3rd World Setting”.  After 11 such educational trips St. Olaf chose to prohibit full semesters for off campus senior students.   Valborg immediately re-organized that program to fit in the J term and so in January, 1993, she and 11 students, including myself and a friend (also a student of Valborg ) had an amazing learning experience!

Valborg has amazing stamina!   In India, the students called her the “Blue Streak”.  None of us could keep up with her (and she wore blue clothing most days so we could see her up ahead). 

Valborg influenced my life in many ways. We both served on the Global Health Ministry Board.  She was also one of the first Board Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Parish Nurse Association (ELPNA).   She was the inspiration for me to take the Parish Nurse course at Luther Seminary as soon as I retired from my Nurse Midwife position in 2001.

Valborg became the first Parish Nurse at Redeemer Lutheran Church and served there until 2005 when the church was sold.  She continued caring for 31 members of that congregation and she still today serves the remaining 8 of those members with telephone calls as needed every week.

She has served on several boards including, but not limited to the Education Board of the Faith Community Nurse Network of the Twin Cities (FCNN) and on ELPNA committees such as Outreach/Mission. 

ELPNA is grateful for the inspiration that Valborg has provided to students, alumni, parish nurses and our organization.  She consistently and resolutely instills the values of professionalism and excellence.  She is a role model and leader that will inspire and strengthen our future as an organization that serves Lutheranism.    

In Valborg’s honor, the St. Olaf alumni, class of 1965 made a gift to ELPNA in 2015.  The exact use of these funds is still being finalized, but the focus will be on furthering the specialty of Parish Nursing.  To God be the glory for all that Valborg has done to nurture hearts and lives and to deepen our collective commitment to serving God’s people.  

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PO Box 8117
St. Paul, MN 55108

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