Pastoral Care in this time of Transition at MUC

Pastoral Care in this time of Transition at MUC

What do we mean when we talk about Pastoral Care??

Wikipedia says.

Pastoral Care is an ancient model of emotional, social and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions. The term is considered inclusive of distinctly non-religious forms of support as well as those from religious communities.”

OR The simple definition that says “Pastoral Care happens when each member of the Manningham Uniting Church cares for each other.”

Hopefully, during this challenging time, we have all been experiencing spiritual and pastoral care.

Many of our groups have organised phone calls to their members and friends and some are just calling people to get to know them better. There is an organised phone tree and mail-out for those without internet and those in care. Our worship is online  and of course the wonderful Zoom is being used by many in our community. The Sunday morning Cuppa call has become an important meeting for those interested in exploring the ‘reflection’ together, not to mention seeing each other and enjoying the comments and questions. Claire is the host of these sessions and facilitates the discussion.

Zoom Bingo was on offer which provided an opportunity for some fun and connection with our MUC family. Our portfolios continue to meet by Zoom which is saving a lot of travel time and keeping us warm during the winter months. Many families are also keeping in touch by Zoom. We also understand that Zoom is out of reach and exclusive of many of our people. We are thankful for those who make all of the above possible. 

The mail-out began with the realisation that there were many of our MUC family who did not have access to our online resources. Wanting to keep this group feeling connected and part of the MUC community became a priority when the COVID-19 restrictions prevented Sunday morning worship on site and no pastoral visiting. A monthly mail out was created including worship and prayer material with reflection points provided by the worship leader (usually Claire) Stories from members of our congregation on a specific theme, meditations in a variety of forms, photographs, a pondering page, word find, and poetry. I am hopeful that everyone should have received a prayer mat made by members of the patchwork group.

There have been many positive comments and feedback about the mail out. Some have mentioned specific parts as being their favourite while others have commented on the prayer mat and how they have used them. Some have talked of the package being a life saver and Moses has fielded many calls at The Hub from people saying thank you. For one with “sore eyes” the reading is slow but she persists page by page and is grateful for the gift that the reading brings her.

Another speaks of “the lift the substance in print brings, and provides a place in which to dwell. Crossword puzzles have their place and challenge, walking is restorative; but the church mail out    is a conduit of care.” Many have reflected on the importance of the written word.

While it’s nice to know that so many of our people have been thankful for the mail out, phone calls and cards, where to from here?

We obviously have no idea when we will be together again.

Over these next weeks and probably months what does our comunity think are our continuing needs?

How do you see these needs being met?

In ‘normal’ life pre COVID-19, we did not have such a clear view of who was providing pastoral care to whom. How can we maintain such a level of accountability?

The new Pastoral Care Portfolio is in the process of being formed, and we will hear more about that over time.

Transition to the new building is also within our sights. What changes will that bring?

It seems that the simple definition that says ‘Pastoral Care happens when each member of our church community cares for one another’ is currently being achieved.

In the meantime, the normal or usual rhythm of life continues. While COVID-19 is in the forefront of our minds, babies continue to be born and we congratulate those families. We are thankful for the lives and influence of those who are no longer with us. Hospital visits and funerals have been a challenge and different ways of providing pastoral care and support discovered. I welcome your comments and feedback and wish you God’s blessing during this challenging time.

Megan Coote

Seniors’ Ministry Coordinator