One enduring facet of ministry is pastoral care—listening, supporting, encouraging and befriending those who seek our presence. This cornerstone of ministry touches everything we do from a simple conversation, to home and hospital visitations, to formal counseling and prayer. Being present during the joyful and challenging times of another’s spiritual journey is one of our greatest opportunities in ministry. Four spiritual communities, of various sizes, share with us about what their pastoral care programs include and how this important area fits into the mission of their community.
Associate Minister at Unity Village Chapel, Unity Village, Missouri
The Pastoral Services Ministry of Unity Village Chapel provides an opportunity to be a part of the healing, caring, sharing facet of the greater Unity Village Chapel Ministry. We hold a vision of life in all of its expressions and circumstances as sacred and we speak and minister to the expression of the Christ that each person truly is.
The current mission statement is: “Unity Village Chapel inspires spiritual growth and abundant living.” Our core values include love, compassion and integrity. It is the intention of the pastoral ministry teams to ensure that each person who enters the doors of our church feels and sees himself or herself as beloved of God. We are here to be of compassionate support to those experiencing a need or personal crisis with prayer, and presence, and to serve as reminders to others of the divine strength, wisdom and power within them while they heal in body, mind and emotions.
Everything in the Pastoral Services Ministry begins with prayer. All of our team members have completed the prayer/pastoral training and are able to pray with another person. Our pastoral teams include a Prayer Call team which makes telephone calls to our members on a regular basis, a Prayer Circle which prays for each individual who has requested prayer, and a Sunday Morning Prayer Team which is available after the Sunday service to pray with anyone who would like prayer support. Letters of prayer support are sent out quarterly to members of Unity Village Chapel. We also provide home, hospital and nursing home visitations.
Our pastoral service ministry holds the vision that this is a spiritual community where no one falls through the cracks, a community where people feel spiritually fed, unconditionally loved and accepted and know that they will find support as they move through their life experiences.
Senior Minister at Renaissance Unity, Bedford Heights, Ohio
Pastoral care keeps our ministry personal and alive. It keeps us connected to Spirit through close authentic relationships. It is a foundation stone of Renaissance Unity’s mission: “Transforming lives through a consciousness of love.” What more transforming gift can we give than to see one another, hear one another, accept one another and pray together?
A congregant recently wrote to me asking, “Where is God, anyway?” I believe we all ask this question or make this plea, at various times throughout our human journey. Jesus, our Way Shower, may have asked as much from the cross, “…why have you forsaken me?” On those days when I’m wondering where God is, the answer often comes within a spiritual counseling session. I invite my “guest” into the office, not knowing the issues which brought him or her. I listen to a personal, often intimate, story. I feel the import of his or her need. And I realize I don’t know what to say, to ask, or to suggest. Then Spirit shows up. Spirit always shows up with the transformative words, questions and tools. And I know—God is right here.
In addition to ministerial pastoral counseling, our six prayer chaplains and four chaplain trainees offer individual prayer support after services, by telephone, email, and during home and hospital visitations.
Pastoral Care Minister at Unity of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona
The overall mission for Unity of Phoenix is “to inspire a greater experience of God in ourselves and each other.” Without care, there can be no inspiration, so for Unity of Phoenix, the process of inspiration begins with caring. To that end, every department is in the business of pastoral care. Each and every staff member is responsible for the spiritual care of the people who attend church, are employed by the church and/or who volunteer or serve in any capacity for the church, as well as people who visit our campus. The Pastoral Care Minister works in collaboration with the various departments to ensure that “care” remains a top priority.
In addition, weddings, funerals, memorial services, christenings, house and business blessings and commitment ceremonies are all facilitated through the Pastoral Care Department. The church prayer team and prayer chaplain program are also overseen by the Pastoral Care Department. The prayer team comprises 49 people whose sole mission is to hold the ministry in prayer. Prayer chaplains pray with people individually, by phone and by email, and also visit congregants in their homes, at the hospital, at convalescent care facilities or in hospice.
The Pastoral Care department also creates and oversees our Small Group Ministry, and provides spiritual counseling, certified grief counseling and counseling referrals for certain specific counseling needs. Our motto: We Care.