Caring for one another is at the heart of the Christian message: "Everyone will recognise that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other" (John 13:35). We see this loving care in action on a daily basis in a multitude of ways.
Each member of our church families is allocated a named Pastoral Visitor; however, much of our Pastoral Care is exercised without this particular label. This might include visiting, friendship, praying for each other – either in each others’ company or in our own private devotions. It might include giving lifts to hospital or doctor’s appointments. Much of our Pastoral Care is given without fuss, or identifying it as such. As a Circuit, we can celebrate the wide variety of Pastoral Care that takes place within our churches. Indeed, it is often through Pastoral Care that those on the fringe or outside the church are brought to faith and into our worshipping communities.
We recognised at an early stage that with such a large number of churches the Ministry Team would be challenged to meet all the Circuit's pastoral needs. A number of our Pastoral Visitors have responded to God's call and are using their training and gifts to offer extended communion to those who are housebound. This is Communion where the gifts of Bread and Wine have been consecrated by a Presbyter, either in church on Sunday or at some other time, and then lay people can take it out to those who are ill or unable to worship in church on Sundays.
A key element of Pastoral Care is the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. All our Pastoral Visitors and those working with young children are required to complete the Methodist Church's Creating Safer Space training and undertake Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
"There is a growing understanding that protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults is at the core of our faith. Safeguarding is about creating churches that are a safe space for everyone; a space where children can flourish and adults can live up to their potential. It is about enabling everyone to come to Jesus without stumbling blocks of abuse, ignorance, fear, compassion fatigue or the failure to recognise the experiences that so many carry within our communities."
Elizabeth Hall, Safeguarding Advisor, Methodist Church in Britain.
An important area of our mission and ministry with elderly people involves taking them out of their homes and enabling them to meet different people. Our Pastoral Visitor Co-ordinator plays an important role in co-ordinating the Circuit's annual Holiday at Home which brings those who are lonely or housebound together for a week of friendship with varied activities. It wouldn't happen without the many volunteers who contribute to its success. If you would like to join the next Holiday at Home, either as a guest or a volunteer, please contact us.