Conference Details

Conference Overview

Wisdom is seeing and understanding life as a whole. Wisdom is gained through experience, acquisition of knowledge and honing the ability to apply that knowledge with good judgement. When professions and communities share wisdom, this ideally results in a common vision. That common vision fosters the development of a unified voice. The ministry of creating healthier communities is an ongoing process in which we are continually growing in wisdom. Sharing that wisdom provides the inspiration, guidance and tools to encourage and sustain faith leaders, faith community nurses and lay health ministers in fostering body, mind and spirit health.

Conference Purpose

The purpose of this conference is to is to enable participants to foster a unified voice and work toward improving whole person care within our communities.

Conference Objectives

  • Provide a national forum for faith and health practitioners to gain wisdom concerning innovative and creative methods of enhancing the health of congregations and communities.
  • Learn how physical and psychosocial challenges across the lifespan impact motivation, health-seeking behavior, and the ability of individuals to gain wisdom concerning the integration of faith and health.
  • Explore how the qualities of forgiveness, compassion, resilience, and acceptance contribute to the growth of spiritual wisdom and holistic health in communities.


As a health ministry organization, we want to acknowledge this difficult time and allow conference attendees to focus on staying well, serving others, and recovering from this crisis. With this in mind we have decided to have the 2021 National Conference as Virtual.

The 2021 HMA National Conference will be held virtually over 3 weeks in October, with a session offered 2 days each week:

12pm PDT/MST (Arizona), 1pm MDT, 2pm CDT, 3pm EDT:
Tuesday, October 5 and Thursday, October 7
Tuesday, October 12 and Thursday, October 14
Tuesday, October 19 and Thursday, October 21

HMA Members Awards

Due to COVID-19 the 2020 Conference was cancelled, so the nominations for 2020 will be carried over to 2021, and are ongoing.

Please submit your nomination for the 2020 HMA Members Awards. Take a look at the Member Awards page to see a full description.

Beginning in the spring of 2021, the award winners will be highlighted in HMA Eblasts. Scheduled as part of the conference, all Registered attendees are invited to the HMA annual meeting and recognition of all the 2021 Award winners. Please join us on the last day of the conference, October 21, 2021.

2021 Conference Sponsorship

HMA invites you to showcase your company, program, or honor a colleague at our virtual conference through conference sponsorship. A variety of sponsor package opportunities are available. For more information Download the PDF.

In the pdf you will find the levels of sponsorship, and a Sponsor Application and Commitment Form. You can also call or email the HMA office (toll free) 800-723-4291,

Your support enables HMA’s vision to be realized by assisting a network of faith and health professionals to develop health ministries that bring needed resources to communities throughout the country. Your sponsorship also highlights for conference attendees your organization’s commitment to building healthier communities through collaboration with groups and individuals engaging faith with health. All sponsors will be listed in the conference program and on the website.

Download the brochure with detailed information.

Keynote & Guest Speakers

Please check back for the Conference Schedule to see when each Speaker will be presenting.

Mary Chase-Ziolek
Ph.D., MS, BS, BA, AA

The Wisdom of Stewarding Creation for Healthier Communities: Justice,  Food and Health

Our collective wisdom for promoting healthier communities calls us to consider how we care for creation to ensure health for all. Eating is a daily activity that mutually engages us with creation and others around the world. Recognizing our responsibility as stewards of creation, we will consider how faith and food relate to matters of justice and health for individuals and communities. As a leader in the faith and health movement since 1991, we are thrilled to have Professor Chase Ziolek share “collective wisdom” in relating faith and food and how various faith communities are living out the connection within their faith context.

Mary Chase-Ziolek, PhD, RN has been involved in faith and health ministries since 1991.  Currently she is a Professor of Health Ministries and Nursing at North Park University and North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago.  Previously Dr. Chase-Ziolek was the Coordinator of Geriatric Health Ministry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where she developed an ecumenical, multiethnic network of congregations involved in health promotion. 

She has published and presented widely on health ministry and parish nursing.  Her book Health, Healing and Wholeness: Engaging Congregations in Ministries of Health, was published by Pilgrim Press in 2005. 

Her work in health ministry has included; identifying the unique aspects of giving and receiving nursing care in a congregation; engaging congregations in promoting the health of their communities; spirituality and personal health; seminary wellness, and faith and food. 

Dr. Chase-Ziolek earned her PhD in nursing from Loyola University Chicago; a master’s degree in public health nursing from the University of Illinois Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Rush University.  She is also a spiritual director and an avid gardener.

Rabbi Michael R. Zedek

Folklore and Stories: A Window to the Soul – How ancient wisdom conveys lasting truths

Scholars suggest there are only a certain number of plots~ all else is elaboration. How then do different cultures and groups tell the “same” story? What does the way such stories are told reveal about the values and dreams of different communities? Why do stories fascinate us so, cause us to remember, and help us grow? As an internationally known, seasoned, and very engaging story-teller, Rabbi Zedek will challenge us to appreciate how ancient stories resonate in today’s world.

In July of 2004, Rabbi Michael R. Zedek began service as the Senior Rabbi of Emanuel Congregation of Chicago. He became Rabbi Emeritus in July of 2016, and currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Previously, he served for 26 years as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jehudah in Kansas City, Missouri, where he also holds the title of Rabbi Emeritus. Ordained in June of 1974, Zedek was chosen to be alumnus-in-residence at the Cincinnati and Los Angeles campuses of Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR). Rabbi Zedek is the youngest person to receive this honor. He is a recipient of the Danforth Graduate Fellowship for outstanding teaching, a Fulbright-Hays Grant for advanced study in the United Kingdom and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.

He has also had numerous teaching and speaking appointments around the world on a wide range of topics, especially focusing on spirituality and folklore. He has taught and lectured in South Africa, Russia, China, the former Yugoslavia, Israel and in many other venues.

Reverend John Kartje

Finding – and Keeping – the Faith in a Science-Driven Culture

As the rare academic who has doctoral degrees in both science and sacred theology, Father John Kartje, rector/president of University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary brings decades of experience exploring faith and science and the ways each can inform the other, and how Christians can study our faith through a scientific lens. In quoting Father John, “for me what really is the connecting tie (between science and faith) is the encounter with mystery.” “Every day a scientist is at the boundary of what we know… Mystery is staring them in the face and they are staring it in the face. You try to plumb those depths.” This presentation will offer an extraordinary perspective from an internationally known astrophysicist, Roman Catholic priest, and a biblical scholar!

Father John was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2002. He has served in parish and campus ministry in both Chicago and Washington, DC, as well as Mundelein Seminary where he has taught scripture since 2009. He was appointed the rector at Mundelein Seminary in 2015. Father John holds doctorate degrees in scripture (Catholic University of America) and in astrophysics (University of Chicago).

Reverend Meredith Onion

Unified Vision: The Congregational Mission as a Catalyst for Collaborative Health Partnerships in the Community; A Pastor’s Perspective

Too often we forget the key to a successful health ministry depends on the passion of the key stakeholder within the faith community~ the faith community leadership team. The development of a sustainable health ministry relies upon the mission and values of the faith community, leadership, and outreach beyond the walls of the faith community. Join our Guest Speaker in exploring a pastor’s perspective in supporting a unified vision for developing and sustaining healthy community partnerships.

After 20 years of working in business, Meredith heard the call to ministry. She received her Masters of Divinity in 2013 from Loyola University Chicago, Institute of Pastoral Studies and was ordained in the United Church of Christ. She is currently the Associate Minister of Pastoral Care with the First Congregational Church of Western Springs. Meredith’s ministry focuses on pastoral care and small group leadership, including being the staff liaison for two women’s’ book studies, a Moms of Teens support group, their Mission and Outreach board, the Diaconate.

She served as the lead staff liaison to the churches Strategic Visioning process in 2017. She has co-facilitated a Caregiver Support Group and Grief Support Group with Deb Stankiewicz, RN. Involvement in the community is important to Meredith – she serves as the President of the Board of Directors of NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) – Metro Suburban; Community Memorial Foundation (CMF) Regional Health & Human Services Implementation Council; and the CMF 25th Anniversary Committee. She formerly served on the Board of BEDS Plus, an agency striving to prevent homelessness, and served on the Advisory Board of Loyola University of Chicago Institute of Pastoral Studies. Meredith and her husband Dave are proud parents of three adult children and a new grand-puppy.

Alyson Breisch

Once and Again: Wisdom Revealed Through Shared Narratives

Narratives and sacred stories are an integral aspect of many faith traditions. Every person has a story – something that ultimately and uniquely defines who they were, who they are, and who they are continuing to become. Sharing our life stories encourages community. We can discover the meaning of our life by sharing our stories, listening to another’s story, and connecting with God’s word revealed through metaphors and story. Reframing life events – including those of hardship and tragedy – into stories of resilience, discovery, and growth can foster personal agency, faithfulness, and healing. Our speaker will share practical tips gained from her 15-years’ experience of incorporating individual and group shared narratives in health ministries and faith community nursing.

Alyson is a nationally recognized faith community nursing and health ministries consultant. She was employed as a faith community nurse for 19 years and is a retired commissioned minister for congregational health in the United Church of Christ denomination.  

Alyson’s advanced practice included CNS and NP positions at Duke Heart Center and adjunct faculty at Duke University School of Nursing and Duke Divinity School.  Alyson directed the Duke Health and Nursing Ministries graduate degree program for 8 years and developed a faith community nursing curriculum she continues to teach nationally.  

Alyson established the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) Faith Community Nursing (FCN) Council.  In 2015, she was awarded the NCNA Nursing Impacting Society award.  She achieved ANCC certification by portfolio in faith community nursing in 2015.  In 2017, she received HMA’s Wilkerson-Droege Award in recognition of her vision, creativity, and faithfulness to the faith and health movement.  Alyson was selected by The American Nurses Credentialing Center to receive the 2019 Certified Nurse Award in Faith Community Nursing.

Alyson has an extensive background in the use of narratives and expressive writing in health ministries.  She has led national workshops and retreats on journaling, life review, and spiritual renewal.  She was lead editor for revision of Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, 2nd edition, and 3rd edition.   She has served as an advisor to two Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students; most recently advising a DNP student on use of spiritual reminiscence in persons with dementia. 

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Conference Sponsors

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