The Pastoral Care Team members are caring friends in times of need, including bereavement, job stress or loss, illness, difficult family decisions or difficulties, substance abuse, emotional instability, abusive relationships, grief, distress, phobias, burnout, separation or divorce, peer pressures or simply a need for confidential conversation. Members with a pastoral care concern are encouraged to contact one of the ministers.
The following passage from the Book of Micah (6:8) neatly summarizes what God expects of us as faithful followers.
…what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?
Jesus echoed this when he said: love God and your neighbour. Sounds simple doesn’t it? And yet, we often struggle with it—especially the part about loving our neighbour. What does it mean to “love kindness?” Who is our “neighbour?”
I like to think that it means, at least in part, to care for and about others, to want the best for them and to reach out to them when they are hurting. In both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, the image of the “good shepherd” is often used to express this. It is from that “pastoral” image that we get the term “pastoral care.” Often, the term is capitalized—Pastoral Care—and thus acquires a formal connotation that implies special calling or training. And, indeed, some kinds of pastoral care do benefit from professional training—but by no means all.
At Woodroffe, pastoral care occurs on a daily basis and in a variety of ways. At one end of the continuum is what happens every Sunday (though not only then) when members of the congregation reach out to each other in caring and supportive ways, be it a cheerful “good morning” as we arrive or a quiet chat in the pew before or after the service. The weekly bulletin reminds us of this when it notes that “we are all called to ministry.” At the other end, is the care provided usually by the ministerial staff to those in situations of acute need—typically surrounding a death or serious illness. In between are those circumstances which call for an ongoing commitment—long or short-term—by a member of the congregation to take on responsibility for caring for another. One example is members who are largely confined to their homes and are unable to attend church regularly. A group of regular visitors ensures that these members of our family remain connected in a very personal way. In other cases, from time to time, members find themselves in a particularly difficult or crisis situation that may call for someone with special skills or training to assist or augment the support provided by the Ministers. This is where the Pastoral Care Team comes in.
Woodroffe’s team is currently composed of ten lay members (Judy Chaplin, Wes Dearham, Lynn Hampton, Mary-Lynne Harvey, Deb Lester, Jeannette Montgomery, John Patton, Cathy Seaborn, Gregg Smith and David Watson), all of whom have completed a ten-week training program to develop their listening skills and their ability to respond pastorally and confidentially when a crisis arises. These skills are maintained and enhanced through continuing education programs provided by the Pastoral Care Training Program and community agencies. The team meets monthly from September to June for mutual support, sharing and learning and, each fall, covenants with the congregation to care for one another.
If you have or are aware of a pastoral care need or would like more information about the work of the Pastoral Care Team, please contact Rev. Kathryn Peate, Rev. Alan Edwards, John Patton or any member of the team. All such communication is kept strictly confidential.