"Pastoral Care" means how we connect to and support and care for one another in the church community. Here at First Parish Church we have several levels of Pastoral Care: Joys and Sorrows, Caring Connections, Lay Ministers, and our Minister. Here's more about what is available at each.
Joys and Sorrows
Almost every week except special occasions we have a section in our service called "Joys and Sorrows." Joys and Sorrows is a time for members and friends to share with the gathered community those things that are on their hearts and minds. While our staff and Lay Ministers try to take note of issues raised that it might be good for us to reach out to the person sharing about, the primary purpose of Joys and Sorrows isn't to invoke pastoral care from our leaders as much as to bring the whole community together in caring for each other. We encourage members to reach out to people who have shared sorrows in particular, and offer individual caring at a friendship level. We now offer people the option of emailing their joy and sorrow if they can't be at the service or don't feel comfortable personally sharing. That can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Lay Ministers coordinate a community-wide caring effort in times of need. By calling or emailing them individually at their person emails or emailing email@example.com, we can arrange to support you through hard times. Some examples of what our team has been able to coordinate the past are:
- Meals at times of illnesses, deaths, and other hardships
- Transportation to medical appointments and other needs
- Respite support for caregivers and parents
- Requests for cards from the larger community
- Help connecting to community services
- Requests for regular visits from the larger community
Our Lay Ministers are Ann Sadler, Ingrid Holcomb, Ann Wickham, Kate Hart, and Hector Constantzos.
Lay Ministers are available for our members and friends to reach out to, as well. Lay Ministers can hold individual support sessions, and are happy to meet with you regularly for a set period of time, as well, to talk about issues in your life, at a non-professional level. Even though not professionals in caring professions, our Lay Ministers have been helpful in assisting through various sorts of crises in our community. If the issue is beyond their knowledge level, they'll refer it to the minister. Likewise, if the minister is unavailable, she may pass something to the Lay Ministers to respond to. They can all be reached by phone or their individual emails (available through our membership directory), or by emailing the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Lay Ministers are still going through training, and the support they can offer is at a non-professional level, although some of the original Lay Ministers went through an initial training several years ago. The team meets monthly with the minister to talk through what we know are the issues going on in the FPC community and then the team reaches out to our members and friends. The Lay Minister have the following Covenant:
We gather together to support our work in caring for each other and members of our FPC community, while recognizing the limitations of our service.
We acknowledge the importance of maintaining compassion, helping one another with the complexities of confidentiality, seeking one another’s counsel, and upholding the values of our ministry.
Ministerial Pastoral Support
Our Minister, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum (Cindy) is also available for pastoral support. The Lay Ministers can help you make an appointment with her, or you can book one directly through this link: https://calendly.com/minister-fpc. Please also feel free to call her or text her (her cell number is in our directory and on her church office voicemail), particularly in times of emergency.
Ministers are available to talk about navigating illness and death, particularly when death is imminent, how to handle conflicts in your life, and how to wrestle with theological and philosphical crises, among other issues. Ministerial Pastoral Care is also appropriate if you're struggling with the church in some way. Ministerial Pastoral Care is often the first reach-out in times of change or crisis, and a way to find out what other support is availble through the church and the larger communities we're part of. Ministerial pastoral care has its limitations, in that (most) ministers are not trained counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists, but ministers are trained in how to refer you to those resources if needed, and can be a "first stop" on the journey to help.
To get a joy and sorrow shared, ask for caring support like meals or rides, or talk to a lay minister, all of these can be done by emailing email@example.com. Writing this address can also be used to schedule an appointment with the minister, which can also be done at https://calendly.com/minister-fpc.