pastoral care

A weekly Rector’s Notes article, July 8, 2019

One of the important components of being a community of people who not only come together to worship in one space, but truly come together to be a part of each other’s lives, to lift up and support one another throughout every stage and event of life, is the necessary work of pastoral care. Often, pastoral care is thought of as the Priest coming and visiting you in the hospital during a major illness or surgery. While this is one of the important pieces of pastoral care, it is not the only component, but at St. Stephen’s we have not put a lot of focus into the other areas of pastoral care.

That changes this year.

Through the direction of the Vestry, I have pulled together a small group of folks to form a Pastoral Care Committee. These individuals have professional and church-based experience in many different facets of Pastoral Care, and working with them we have identified three key areas of Pastoral Care work that we want to establish working ministries in:

  1. Pastoral Care in Emergency Situations
  2. Pastoral Care with Seniors and Home-bound, Extended Hospital Stays
  3. General Health and Wellness of the Parish

Pastoral Care in Emergency Situations:

  • This area of focus does ultimately fall upon the Priest, as these are the type of situations where the most flexibility and access are required in order to meet the immediate needs in a timely manner. However, we have realized that we do not have a great system in funneling information to the Priest unless the person needing care (or their family) directly contacts Fr. Nic. We are exploring different tools that would enable us to better track this type of care and provide avenues for folks to communicate need in a more immediate manner.

Pastoral Care with Seniors and Home-bound, Extended Hospital Stays

  • This area of focus relies heavily on volunteers in order to ensure that care is provided on an ongoing basis, and that information regarding needs is communicated to the Priest and whoever else may need to know.

We are seeking volunteers for this ministry.

  • We will provide training at upcoming dates in how to offer this type of presence-based ministry. This will include Eucharistic Visitor training, and Eucharistic Visitor companion training (due to diocesan policy we must send 2 people on any “formal” church visit). If you are interested in this ministry, please contact Fr. Nic and plan on attending one of the upcoming Safeguard Trainings (August 10, September 14, October 5).

General Health and Wellness of the Parish

  • This area of pastoral care ministry is probably the most over-looked but vital piece of pastoral care for the majority of our church community. The general health and wellness of our collective whole is what enables us to do the work we are called to do. Through focusing on this piece of our shared life, we can help foster an even stronger community of engaged and energized people to do the work that is before us. This focus point will also enable us to recognize when regulars are unexpectedly absent for extended periods of time, enabling us to initiate contact and provide care if needed.

As you can see, we are at the beginning of this re-imagining of what care looks like in this current iteration of our community and the needs that we have identified. We have already identified the need for volunteers who are willing and able to visit with folks that don’t have the ability to be with us on a regular basis for whatever reason. If you feel so called please contact Fr. Nic or the office and we will put you on the list for future notices regarding training. If you know a great care approach in any of these areas of focus and want to share, please do! The only way we will have a strong pastoral care culture is if we are all hands on deck, and we all do the work of caring for one another.

I’m excited to see how this focus will unfold in new ministries, the strengthening of existing ministries, and the opportunity for many more people to serve. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know!

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