Staff and Students

Portrait of Bonnie Ballard

Bonnie Ballard, Administrative Associate, joined the Pastoral Care Department in January, 2009. Prior to joining the Pastoral Care Team, she worked in the Registration Department for almost two years. Before coming to Covenant HealthCare, Bonnie worked as a customer service representative/supervisor for many years. She received her Associates Degree in business from Delta College and became a certified professional secretary in 1985. Bonnie is a member/past president of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Bonnie can be reached at 989.583.6042 or

Portrait of Kathy Bonn

Kathy Bonn, Director of the Pastoral Care Department, is a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She brought a variety of experiences to the role of director in July 2007, including being a high school math teacher, college professor, and Hospice volunteer. During her chaplaincy training, Kathy did her CPE internship at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center (in La Crosse, WI) and her CPE residency at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center (in Toledo, OH). For her Master of Arts in Diaconal Ministry she specialized in hospital chaplaincy, and her Ph.D. is in Curriculum & Instruction. Kathy can be reached at 989.583.6037.

Portrait of Ron Cooper

Ron Cooper, CPE Program Manager, Department Pastoral Care & Education, is an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene. He retired as an Active Duty Army Chaplain (Colonel) in 2022 and held hospital chaplain positions at every level of Army Medicine concluding his career as command chaplain to the U.S. Army Medical Command and Army Surgeon General. His CPE Residency was at Madigan Army Medical Center, his ACPE Certification Education Training at Brooke Army Medical Center where he was the CPE Program Manager and Director of Ministry and Pastoral Care. Ron earned his Bachelor of Arts, Religion from Asbury College, Master of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry from Erskine Theological Seminary. Ron is passionate about Practical Theology and ACPE Clinical Pastoral Education. He can be reached at 989.583.4279.

Portrait of Dale Emery

Dale Emery, has a BA in Church Music and Christian Education (1984), and is finishing an MM in a Chaplain track from Asbury Theological Seminary (2022). As well as a chaplain intern at Covenant HealthCare, Dale is a Worship and Small Groups pastor at Mayfair Bible Church in Flushing where he has served for the last 20 years. He is also a chaplain with Marketplace Ministries where he serves as a Care Partner with Gordon Foods. Dale has been married to his wife Melissa for 38 years, has a married daughter in Chicago and a son in law school at George Washington. Dale and his wife welcomed their first grandchild (Owen) in October 2021. Dale can be reached at

Portrait of Ruth Estell

Ruth Estell, a staff chaplain, has continued serving at Covenant HealthCare after completing a CPE residency here from 2018-2019.  She completed a previous unit of CPE at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Grand Rapids, MI.  Ruth is an ordained minister with the Reformed Church in America.  Prior to that, she served on the mission field in Taiwan and China.  She has an MDiv from Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI) and both an MA in Intercultural Studies and TESL and a BA in Christian Education from Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL).  She is delighted and honored to be a member of the Pastoral Care team at Covenant HealthCare.  She can be reached at

Portrait of Forest Fisher

Forest Fisher completed a B.S in Christian Counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. He then got accepted into the Air Force where he completed Commissioned Officers Training and the Chaplain Candidate Intensive Internship as well as 35 days of Active Duty Training. From there he did his first unit of CPE in Lynchburg, Virginia serving Centra Hospital. Forest completed his 2019-2020 Residency here at Covenant HealthCare and feels blessed and honored to continue serving as a Staff Chaplain. He completed a Master’s in Divinity from Liberty University and is ordained by the National Association of Christian Ministers. He is endorsed through Liberty Baptist Fellowship. Forest can be reached at

Portrait of Elsie Marvin

Elsie Marvin feels honored and blessed to serve as an occasional chaplain at Covenant HealthCare after completing her four units of CPE residency in August 2021. She has brought a variety of experiences from her diverse pastoral background. As a pastor's daughter, Elsie has served in outreach programs across rural southern India and serves as a volunteer hospice chaplain. She spent 18 years in the quality engineering industry before being called into full-time vocational ministry. Elsie completed her BA in Ministries and BS in Community Development from Central Michigan University. She is continuing her education in Christian Leadership and Church Ministries. Elsie is ordained by the FRC/IAC chaplain’s network. Elsie completed her previous CPE unit from the Spiritual Living Center for Education and Training. She is passionate about people and caring for others in need. Elsie enjoys spending time with her daughter Sheena, her dog Missy, and two cats, Max and Jack. Elsie can be reached at

Portrait of Janet Myers

Janet Myers, Staff Chaplain, is an Elder in the United Methodist Church and is endorsed as a chaplain by The United Methodist Endorsing Agency. She brings several different areas of experience with her. Janet has earned ten units of accredited clinical pastoral education with a specialized focus in adult behavioral health. She served the local church for seventeen years as a pastor, six years as a Life & Safety Officer at Wichita State University, two- and one-half years at the Department of Corrections and seven years in The United States Air Force. While serving in the military she had the opportunity to live overseas in Japan and South Korea. Janet earned her Master of Divinity at St. Paul School of Theology and BA from Southwestern College, Kansas. She grew up in Indiana and lived in Kansas for several years after serving in the military. She enjoys spending time with family, fishing, gardening, and her toy poodle, Teddy. Janet can be reached at

Portrait of Don O'Brien

Don O’Brien is serving as an occasional chaplain at Covenant. He completed his Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship in July of 2020. Don received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saginaw Valley State University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has worked in the legal and insurance fields for more than thirty years. For the last ten years, Don has also been a staff writer for a large, international Christian ministry where he writes articles and answers Bible questions weekly. He has written extensively on many subjects and has taught classes on the book of Genesis. Don enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family. He is married to Deb and has two grown sons. He is excited to be a part of the pastoral care team at Covenant and can be reached at

Portrait of Mark Oswald

Mark Oswald is serving as an occasional employee at Covenant. He completed his Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship in August of 2016. He is a Lay Minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2008 and has been trained in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. Mark was also a licensed nursing home administrator and has 19 years of experience in firefighting and rescue. He is the leader of the St. John Jail Ministry Team and is married with 3 grown children. Mark can be reached at

Portrait of Shadrack Owuor

Shadrack Owuor is a 2021-2022 Clinical Pastoral Education Resident Chaplain. He is an ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Butere. He has a Bachelor of Divinity (BD) from Uganda Christian University (UCU) in Uganda and a Master of Sacred Theology from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at the same institution. Before coming to the United States, he served in various pastoral and teaching roles in East Africa. These include pastoring congregations in his home diocese, teaching at Uganda Martyrs Seminary in Uganda, teaching at Carlile College in Nairobi, a training center of Church Army Africa, where he also served as the college chaplain. He also served as Director of the African Institute for Contemporary Mission and Research (AICMAR), a foundational and continuing ministerial training institute in Western Kenya, from where he came to the United States for further studies. He has served for over 13 years in pastoral and training ministry. He is married to Acclyne, and they are trusting God for the blessing of children. Shadrack can be reached at

Portrait of Brian Poe

Brian Poe, a 2021-2022 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) resident chaplain, is married to Jesse, and is the father of two boys, Caleb and Benjamin. Brian wanted to serve in ministry right out of high school. He started in 2014 preaching full-time at the Church of Christ in the small town of Bad Axe. Over the next seven years, Brian would serve as the preacher at the Northeast Church of Christ and the last three years were spent at the Dexter Church of Christ. Brian earned his Masters of Ministry, and soon after, his Masters of Divinity from Heritage Christian University. He is the author of a book he published January 2021, “Who Do You Say I Am?: A Practical and Relevant Reflection of the Life of Christ.” If you ask Brian what denomination he is, he will tell you, “I am a Christian.” Brian can be reached at

Portrait of Corey Pritchett

Corey Pritchett serves as a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Resident Chaplain at Covenant. He has brought a multifaceted array of experiences from his human services-social activist-ministerial background. Corey is a dual graduate of Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA) obtaining his Bachelor of Science with specializations in Psychology, Social Science & Christian Counseling (2012) and a Master of Arts in Human Services with a specialization in Marriage & Family (2014). Since the age of 25 he has passionately and consistently served the community of Saginaw through prayer/purpose via serving youth & families. Within the Christ-Centered Faith community he has been licensed and ordained as an Evangelist (November of 2020). His ministerial niche is victims of violence and those impacted by the “street life.” Corey can be reached at

Portrait of Stephen Scheel

Stephen Scheel, a 2021-22 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) resident chaplain, grew up in Africa. His parents were medical missionaries for 27 years. Stephen came to the States as a teen and graduated from Wheaton College with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a teaching credential. He went on to Trinity E. Divinity School and graduated with a Masters of Divinity Degree. After teaching in Florida for a few years he became ordained and a full-time pastor. In addition to pastoral ministries in rural America (Illinois and North Dakota), he also enjoyed a three-year missionary opportunity in Japan. Now he is joining the team in Saginaw after taking time off from teaching and preaching for the past few years in California. Stephen can be reached at

Portrait of Rob Schmidt

Chaplain Rob Schmidt serves as an occasional employee at Covenant. Rob is an ordained clergy in the ELCA and serves as local pastor. Rob has completed one unit of CPE as part of his seminary education at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH where he earned his Master of Divinity. Prior to ministry Rob earned a masters in counseling education counseling psychology from Western Michigan University and a bachelor’s of science with secondary education teaching endorsement. Rob served in the public school system in the state of Michigan where he taught, coached and served as a counselor prior to pursuing his ministerial credentials. Rob can be reached at

Portrait of Monsena Sheppard

Monsena Sheppard, a 2021-2022 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Resident Chaplain, was born in Muskegon. She moved to Flint with her mother and her siblings as a teenager. In August 1995, as the Lord was dealing with her, she felt the need to go to Lawton, Oklahoma to care for a sick aunt. This is where she accepted her call to missionary work as well as evangelism. She has served as Missionary President in her local church as well as Missionary Auxiliary Director. She also served as Chaplain for the Missionary Auxiliary on the state level as well as Vice President for the Missionary Department on the state level. Chaplain Sheppard went back to school in her 40’s to get her bachelor’s degree in health care administration. She worked many years doing bedside health care as a Certified Nursing Assistant. After working bedside so many years, she went on to complete her master’s degree in religious studies/MDiv Equivalent in Atlanta, GA from Beulah Heights University Bible College. Her desire is to become a board-certified chaplain and move on to the spiritual side of health care. Monsena can be reached at

Portrait of Lafayette Simpson

Lafayette Simpson, an occasional employee, joined Covenant’s Department of Pastoral Care & Education in October 2015. In 2014, he completed a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship and received his CPE Certification from Covenant’s CPE Program. In 2014, Lafayette was installed as the second pastor of the 63-year-old congregation of the historic Bethlehem Baptist Church of Saginaw. Along his journey serving in ministry for 16 years, he has been ordained and appointed as the Chairman of the Deacon Board, licensed and ordained as a minister.  Lafayette gained ministry knowledge by attending Midwest Bible College in Pontiac, Michigan. He can be reached at

Portrait of Rhonda Werda

Rhonda Werda is serving as part of the chaplaincy team at Covenant. Rhonda was born and raised in Michigan. She has been married for 28 years and has three children and five grandchildren. Rhonda has served in pastoral ministry with her husband, Jeff, for over 20 years. She is a certified personality educator. For over two decades she has been invited to speak and teach on some of her favorite topics centering around God and family. Rhonda has a diverse educational background and wealth of experience in leadership and ministry. She is a certified medical missionary evangelist and is currently in the process of completing her first unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Covenant. Rhonda can be reached at

Portrait of Carol Wesolek

Carol Wesolek is serving Covenant as an occasional employee. She has completed 4 units of CPE at Covenant, which included a year residency. She has been a licensed ordained chaplain through the International Fellowship of Chaplains since 1999, with emphasis on trauma, grief and loss. Carol is a member of a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and Management team, having taken training through ICISF (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation) of which she is a member, and the IFOC (International Fellowship of Chaplains). She also attended Mid-Michigan Bible Institute. She can be reached at

Portrait of Betty Zeestraten

Betty Zeestraten serves as part of the Pastoral Care Team after many years of ministering in Saginaw area churches and in children residential foster care facilities and substance abuse recovery programs for adults and teens. Her background includes a BA in Education from the University of Toledo, an MA in Pastoral Studies from Marygrove University and another MA in Counseling from Spring Arbor University. She has additional educational experiences in Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) units through Covenant’s CPE program. Chaplain Betty enjoys ministering to patients, staff and visitors at Covenant with the WE-CARE values. Chaplain Betty can be reached at