Odds are that many of you are only dimly aware of the existence of the Pastoral Care Team, so when I tell you that they are undergoing some changes, that news may be even more mysterious! But hopefully interesting.
The Pastoral Care Team assists me in providing care and counseling to congregants in times of struggle and crisis. Though I would dearly love to always provide such care directly, that is impossible to do in a congregation of Chalice’s size.
In the past, the Pastoral Care Team has been the group that sends flowers or cards when congregants are sick or in the hospital, arranges for food when there’s been an illness or death, finds transportation for people needing a ride, visits ailing congregants in the hospital, and visits congregants who are not able to get to church very often.
Going forward, these responsibilities will be divided between two different groups. Cards, flowers, meals, and transportation will be overseen by the newly dubbed Care Team.
The people who provide home and hospital visits will now be called Lay Chaplains. The word “chaplain” comes from a French word meaning “cloak” (as does the word “chapel”). Chaplains are those who provide comfort and care, as a cloak provides shelter from the elements. “The laity” refers to all who are not ordained.
In coming months, our Lay Chaplains will also begin to be available Sunday mornings, after each worship service, to be a listening presence for anyone who needs to share. (This won’t happen right away, but hopefully by May you’ll start to hear about Lay Chaplains available on Sundays.)
To provide this level of care and service, our Lay Chaplains train with me each month, working on listening skills, learning about grief issues, talking about the challenges of health and life crises. Your conversation with a Lay Chaplain is a confidential one, unless that Lay Chaplain deems it necessary to share or consult with me.
We currently have five Lay Chaplains. We will be inviting a few more people to take on this role and to begin training in the next month or so.
Please know that it is important to me to know when you are ill, when you are in the hospital, when you are undergoing surgery, when you are in crisis, when you are having a hard time, even when you are just feeling a little blue! I am easily available by telephone, by email, and during my office hours.
But hopefully it is also a comfort to know that there is a wider community of love and care also available to provide support.