Looking out and caring for one another are an important part of what it means to be a member of St. Mary’s. We are being challenged to see care as a vocational calling of the whole people of God, so that Pastoral Care becomes the responsibility of all of us, not just the Church leaders.
Pastoral Care is the term that we broadly apply to a ministry of compassion, encouragement and transformation within our shared Christian lives. We recognise that Jesus came to bring a fullness of life for all people (John 10:10) and our goal is to help people on that journey, to encourage and support them to live in the strength of the Holy Spirit and according to the example of Jesus.
It is about taking the focus off ourselves, and looking outwards to the needs of individuals in the community. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
We continue to pray, discuss and work towards how we might be more effective in seeking to offer pastoral care to one another, and out into the wider community, as we serve, walk alongside, draw near, support and build community in real and practical ways.
This originally focussed on two key areas, with Scriptural teaching for the whole fellowship, linked to the formation of a new Pastoral Care Team.
A preaching series looked at aspects of Caring, Serving and Pastoring Well, teaching us about how and why we should all care for one another, and the attitudes we should demonstrate, in particular the Agape, self-giving, unconditional love of God that we receive ourselves, and which unmerited we should pass on to others.
We continue to listen, respond, pray, accept, share, encourage and provide practical, caring support to each other. Part of our teaching focussed on the 9 different aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
In addition to learning about our own responsibilities as individuals, we formed a new Pastoral Care Team. This is made up of some people already experienced over many years in aspects of care, as well as people who have had little experience but have a heart for learning and growing in this ministry.
Reverend Phil Dykes, the Winchester Diocesan Adult Discipleship Adviser, offered much practical and spiritual guidance in helping us with the formation of the team, including leading a Training Day. This helped us clarify what it is we believe the Lord is calling us to do, as well as identifying what ongoing training and resources we need on the journey. We ended the day with a helpful period of reflection, before moving forward with a clearer sense of the way ahead.
The Pastoral Care Team has now been operational since Autumn 2013, offering support and help to anyone who would like to receive care as they face the varying circumstances that life can bring. In addition we give ongoing care, particularly to those who are not in Home Groups as the members in
the group can normally offer care for one another. We seek to show the love of Jesus to those who are in need at any particular time
Three of the current team members attended the Association of Christian Counsellors Pastoral Care Course, which proved to be very informative and helpful. Any members of St. Mary’s Church who feel that they have a listening ear and would like to be part of the team, should speak to Diane in the office.
Communion at Home
In addition many team members take Holy Communion to Residential Homes within the parish and to individuals in their homes who are no longer able to come to church. Tim heads up this part of the ministry. If anyone in the parish would like to know more or would like to receive Holy Communion at home please speak with Tim via the Church Office.
We also follow up those in the parish who have lost loved ones and whose funerals have taken place at St. Mary’s.
A card is sent to the bereaved expressing our sympathy and offering a visit.
We also let them know the date of the All Souls’ Service each year when they can come and share a special time of remembrance. Heather looks after this part of the Pastoral Care Ministry so if we are made aware of anyone who would welcome a visit because of bereavement, Heather is the person to contact.
Healing & Wholeness Ministry
During January 2018 we followed a sermon series around the area of Healing and Wholeness, addressing ‘Healing and Wholeness,’ ‘What is Healing?’ ‘Who can be Healed?’ and ‘The Significance of Faith.’
A group of us then completed an exciting new short course entitled ‘Growing a Healing Ministry.’ The subjects covered were:
Seeds of Faith (Breadth of God’s healing, including today)
Rich Soil for Growth (Respectful, Inclusive, Communal, Holistic)
Leaves for Healing (Different ways of offering healing)
Growing a Healing Church (Becoming a healing community)
On Sunday 29th April 2018 we held out first Healing & Wholeness Service, and we have had regular services approximately every two months since then. We are excited about how God is continuing to lead and develop these fruitful and valued aspects of pastoral ministry here, as we work towards this one strand of God’s Vision to SERVE one another. May He continue to guide and bless us for His glory.