We are fast approaching Lent – Easter falling much earlier this year than in many others. I hope that might afford each of us the opportunity to take time and space to reflect on our relationship with God and within the community God has placed us.
Some changes are emerging at FMC – perhaps the one that will affect people most of all is the renaming of our Pastoral Visitors/Class Leaders as Pastoral Friends. Why the change you might ask? Each Church member is appointed a Pastoral Visitor – someone who undertakes to offer pastoral support, care and awareness to those on their pastoral list. The problem with the terminology is that very often Pastoral Visitors don’t often have the time to regularly visit people that they already see very frequently at church activities or worship. To rename our Pastoral Visitors as Pastoral Friends is to take the pressure off our very busy but dedicated volunteers, and to redefine the expectations that the church and its members places upon them. Some Pastoral Friends have more than 20 people on their list – can you imagine how long it might take for them to arrange regular visits with people?
So, you might not notice much difference to the pastoral care that you receive from FMC – but I would ask you to be aware of the change in title and in thinking. Why? Because we recognise that all the people who offer their time within and outside the church do so willingly and lovingly (and I place on record my sincere thanks to all our Pastoral Friends, old and new), and who want to continue to offer care in the best possible, but also most realistic, way. It doesn’t mean that they will never visit you anymore (asking them to call to see you is very helpful to the Friends so that they can ensure they are there for you as much as possible in times of difficulty or crisis). But it does mean that if they see you at church and know that you’re ok, they are less likely to make an extra effort to call and see you, which gives them space and time perhaps to spend with someone else on their list who needs some additional time and attention for a while.
The pastoral care system at FMC is the best I have ever seen in my life – there is a desire from all involved at FMC to try to be there, and be caring, and to offer support, and to do it well. This change is a recognition of that work, within realistic parameters for those who volunteer for that work. If you are interested in knowing more, please do come and speak to me about it.
God’s blessings to you,
Reverend Denise Harding
Written by the Minister & Members