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17 August 2017

Caring for everyone: an update about Pastoral Care

Sally Campbell (LT pics 2016) Sally Campbell Head of Pastoral Care
Group chatting at Café Church

The Pastoral Care at Above Bar Church is headed up by Sally Campbell, assisted one day per week by Caitlin Wederell and a Pastoral Care Team (PCT) of 16 volunteers.

But pastoral care is not just done by these people! The organisation PCUK (the pastoral care branch of the Association of Christian Counsellors) talks about pastoral care in church being done by the all, the some, and the few.

The all means that all of us are involved in caring for one another at some level, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and mourning with those who mourn (Romans 12).

The some, who might be more involved in pastoral issues, are people like home group leaders or ministry leaders.

And the few would be the Pastoral Care Team and Leadership Team and any other specialists. Our home groups are hubs of pastoral care, which would probably count as both the all and the some.

Bible in open hand

Pastoral Care also has different facets, and under our umbrella we have:

  • visiting,
  • bereavement support,
  • one-to-one support and
  • marriage / relationship ministry.

These subgroups of the PCT are headed up by Cheryl Cheshire, Pauline Foo and Steve and Kathy Neal.

Here are three key developments that have happened recently in Pastoral Care:

  • We’ve started using an online system called CareNotebook to keep written records of who is giving and receiving pastoral care. This gives us oversight and strengthens our care structures, while still maintaining people’s confidentiality.
  • We’ve recently run our second Restored Lives course, for people who are separated or divorced.
  • A month ago, we had our second Journey to Wholeness retreat weekend, enabling people to go deeper in their relationship with God.

It’s always encouraging to receive feedback from people who have appreciated the care in the church - from the all, the some or the few! – and here’s a selection of recent quotes:

Following a bereavement: “I would like to say a very warm thank you for the prayers, good wishes, cards and flowers from so many folk in the church family. I feel very loved and supported ... and through it all God has continued to show His love and faithfulness.”

On one-to-one support: “Meeting up with someone from the pastoral care team has really helped me in many ways. It has helped me to experience authentic community through being honest and having someone stand with me, and has helped me grow in self-awareness.”

On marriage preparation: “We were so glad to receive such great marriage prep from a couple from church. They helped us to understand our own behaviours and expectations and to communicate them to one another. Our time was filled with lots of valuable practical advice and encouragements. Oh and cake!”

On the value of home groups: “Being part of a home group has been invaluable for me while going through recent relationship difficulties. Having the opportunity to share my worries and troubles, and receive prayer when we are together is such a blessing. Knowing that home group members are actively praying for me during the week, and receiving messages suggesting meeting up, leaves me feeling supported and wrapped in Christian love during the tough times.”

Our prayer is that we would increasingly be an authentic community of God’s people, who care for one another, reflecting something of the love and care God shows to us.

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