Pastoral care is a fundamental part of being a Christian and Jesus gave many examples of responding where people had need. John 13 v34-5 reminds us of Jesus’ new command “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples”.
Being part of the pastoral team is a great privilege as we glimpse a small part of how the amazing family of All Saints Marlow draws alongside one another during times of need. We are blessed to be part of a caring loving community where people want to support each other. Much of this care happens without fanfare and under the radar.
Sometimes we are contacted directly by someone in need or a concerned friend or relative, but it may be that someone notices that a particular person is missing from their usual seat in church, appears distressed or withdrawn, or the alarm is raised when someone misses their small group. Support may be practical such as providing food rotas or babysitting for those going through a tough time or having just had a baby, visiting someone in hospital, helping with lifts, providing a listening ear or company to the lonely, praying with or for those in difficulties, delivering home communion to the housebound, bereavement support or if necessary signposting to other agencies.
We are very grateful to Gabrielle Smith who has led the pastoral care for many years within the Parish and has now stepped down from this role. As a consequence we have recently formalised a new structure of pastoral care within All Saints Marlow with the aim of making it easier for people to know who to contact and where to go with concerns. Sue Glyn-Woods is now the Pastoral Co-ordinator with nominated pastoral leaders for each church, service and specific activities. The names of these people can be found in the pastoral care leaflet or within our pastoral care page.
The pastoral care team work alongside the clergy, and we are grateful for the variety of skills, experience and personalities of all those who volunteer their time to serve in this way. The team are all DBS checked and attend Safeguarding training. We recently had some fantastic training on Listening based on material from the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation. Being well listened to can be a powerful healing experience and whilst not all of us are natural born listeners, the good news is that everyone can learn! We are excited to have been invited to join a comprehensive pastoral training course in Beaconsfield in Spring 2020. Further information about this will be released soon.
Every one of us has a responsibility for pastoral care of the members of our church family. We are all needed to listen to the needs of others and to be prepared to support them. Pastoral leaders are there to be consulted and made aware of any concerns you may have regarding others or indeed yourself. We must all play our part as disciples ‘loving one another’.
This article, written by Ruth Scott, featured in the Advent 2019 edition of The Bridge – the magazine for All Saints’ Church in Marlow. Pick up your free copy in church or download it here.