A Look Into the FUMC Pastoral Care Team

A Look Into the FUMC Pastoral Care Team By Anne Bullard

The Pastoral Care Team is a trained group of FUMC staff and lay persons who meet the needs of our Foothills family who find themselves in the hospital, dealing with grief or other family emergencies.  The Team makes hospital visits, follow-up calls and works with grieving families.

The Pastoral Care Group was created about two years ago to fill a specific need. At that time, the economic downturn had forced Foothills to cut its pastoral resources. We went from having three busy pastors to having Pastor John full time, and Pastor Christian half time (it was at this same moment that Pastor Christian received the grant to start work on Foundry UMC). At the same time, Foothills membership continued to grow as it had been for the previous ten or so years.

Hospital visits, bereavement, grief-work and follow-ups are typical pastoral responsibilities. The many needs of our large congregation became too overwhelming for one pastor to handle alone. So the Pastoral Care Group was formed. Headed by Church staff Rev. John Farley and Jeanette Ham, nine church members came together to form a vital support group for the Church. They began meeting as a small group to study a Pastoral Care text-book over many weeks. They learned methodologies, definitions, and theological reflections on the role of support-caregivers. Over time, the group continues to receive in-service training. In addition to a Masters Degree in Divinity, Rev. Farley also holds a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy!

But the work of this group is not that of therapists. Rather, the care this group provides a microcosm of the care the general foothills family provides to each other. It broadens the spectrum of connection and deepens the actual time of pastoral care. Four times as much care is possible following this model, starting with a hospital visit or phone call, follow-up, and additional care such as meals organized as needed. The team meets once per month to review pastoral care requests received. They discuss approaches to help people, how to better listen, and how to best support our congregation. As emergencies arise, members of the team are contacted by Church staff so needs can be met quickly.

Members of the Pastoral Care Team are connected to several different areas of the Congregation. The volunteer lay members are Rev. Martha Kogle (ret.), Steve Hable, Michele Chabot, Rita Folsom, Rev. Diana Wright  (ret.), Kathy Cueva, and Eric Naslund. They receive additional help coordinating meals from Mary Moreau.

Unless someone notifies the Church there is no way for the Team to help. There are four ways to notify the Church of a need in your family. 1)prayer concerns submitted online, 2) an email to a staff person with the information, 3) a prayer request from the Sunday bulletin, or 4) a phone call to the Church office. Remember, doctors offices and hospitals do not notify churches, neither can a Pastor get information by calling the provider. The Church relies on family members to make sure that information is provided.  Once the Church is notified of a need, prayer groups can be contacted.

The Pastoral Care Team has become an integral part of the Foothills United Methodist Church community. Not only as a resource for our general Church family, they also provide vital spiritual support for Pastor John. As anyone who has cared for a loved-one knows, acting as a caregiver is emotionally draining work.  We are so fortunate to have such high level of care in our Church Community!

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