A weekly Rector’s Notes Article, November 11, 2019
This year, our vestry set two goals for us to accomplish together as a parish. The first goal we have met and exceeded with great passion and enthusiasm: strengthening and growing our ministries to those on the margins, especially the homeless.
We have continued our youth severe weather shelter, which saw two young women in early October come to us and from that connection point, each attain permanent housing opportunities. We have brought the Wednesday serving of Radical Love under our roof, which has expanded to include a “Radical Love Closet” full of essential items for our most weather-vulnerable neighbors. Fr. Nic has been involved in community efforts to establish an adult severe weather shelter that is safer, more secure, better funded and fully staffed. We even opened our doors in the most recent severe weather event at the end of October to fill a gap as local groups were not ready to open that first night. Not to mention our FISH program, which has built a whole new facility within Baird House and is serving more of our neighbors than ever before. We have definitely met and exceeded this goal in every way and we continue to seek more of what we can do.
Our second goal however has not been as successful, at least not yet.
That second goal is: establish a pastoral care ministry.
When I arrived last year, it quickly became clear that there was no formal pastoral care ministry outside of Eucharistic Visitors and the rector making hospital visits (and even then, I often found out people had been in the hospital well after they had been released!). Together, with the vestry, we realized that in our understanding of stewardship as being care takers, we needed to do more for our whole community by established a formalized pastoral care ministry.
The first step has been to form a Pastoral Care Committee that features individuals who are experts (either professionals or many years of parish-based service) in aspects of Pastoral Care ministry, and together we could formulate a plan to connect the wider parish with what it means to do pastoral care.
This is when we realized (after a couple failed attempts at generating interest in specific ministries) that our congregation does not know what it means to offer pastoral care because we haven’t offered it in so long!
So, we are offering to teach any and all about “Pastoral Care 101.”
There are two options: the first is to attend classes on two back-to-back Sundays this Advent (December 8 & 15) or one night class that will do the full session on Wednesday December 11. The first half of the class (or first Sunday), will focus on the what of pastoral care: what do we mean by these words and what does it look like in practice? The second half of the class (second Sunday) will be focused on the how of pastoral care, including formal training for some of the ministries we are hoping to offer in the new year.
My hope is that everyone in the parish will attend either of the two training options (Two Sundays or One Wednesday) because Pastoral Care ministry is not only about serving the sick or dying, it is about serving every single person in our community when life gets in the way of connecting, to God, to our church family, to yourself. Together, as stewards of this place, we engage in the practice of care taking for one another, and Pastoral Care allows us to have tools to take this practice deeper.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Fr. Nic.