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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 12

24 June, 2012

This week's musings are taken from the vicar's monthly report to vestry.

"For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." (1 John 3:11)

Pastoral care is one of the cornerstones of parish ministry. If we genuinely care for one another — not just our friends — if we look after the sick and needy, if we welcome the newcomer, if we nurture our children and young people, if we offer warm hospitality, we will grow as a faith community. And when I say "grow" I mean growing in God's love just as much as growing in numbers. Pastoral care is clearly something your vicar must model, and I strive to do that, but it is a ministry that every member of vestry, indeed every member of the congregation needs to engage in. We need to take an all-hands-on-deck approach if we are going to flourish as a faith community. Pastoral care is not optional for Christians and if we are not up to the mark it is painfully obvious for all to see.

On Monday we said farewell to Jack Baldwin, a faithful member of St Peter's for many years. Before I was even inducted as vicar one of the congregation had told me about Jack's illness, and I was then blessed with a few precious conversations and sharing communions with him and June before anointing him on the eve of his death. The Memorial Service and Requiem Mass was a moving occasion. From sweeping up leaves to arranging flowers and serving in the sanctuary many members of our community pitched in. I am sure that in the coming days and months we will continue to support June as she adjusts to life without Jack. This was and is pastoral care in action.

Each week Sr Avrill, Fr Philip Gill, Fr Philip Bewley, Fr Tom and Bp Graeme meet with me to discuss pastoral care in the parish. We make sure that those on the sick list are being visited, we arrange home communions, we note "who's missing" and "who's new" on Sunday and arrange follow up phone calls and visits. The priests also prepare couples for marriage and families or adults for baptism. I am very grateful to the pastoral care team and to other pastoral care leaders in the parish who head up groups such as the cell of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Sixty-Plus Group. Again, pastoral care in action.

We do pastorally care for one another at St Peter's but there are gaps; we can do better. Sometimes new members or visitors feel ignored or not welcome as we talk with friends over a cuppa after the service. Someone who is sick at home or in hospital may not be visited, or a parishioner may feel hurt by a word or action that came across as unkind or insensitive. The mundane jobs of parish life, such as helping out with morning-tea and mowing lawns or raking up leaves, are also essential elements of caring for one another, but they sometimes don't get done or the stalwarts are taken for granted. We are not a perfect community; we all know that. There is work still to be done to improve our pastoral care.

A new pastoral care initiative that vestry member Trent Losonn-Wilkins has put forward is the formation of a social events committee. He and I have been looking at ideas such as: new members afternoon tea, film night, Sunday lunch in a local café, a parish revue. Another vestry initiative has been the recent "meet the vicar on your patch" gatherings. The first of these, hosted by Anne Wuttke, Sue Skillington and Helen Drummond, have been well attended and most worthwhile. A number of those who came said "we should do this again". Keep the ideas coming, and please do continue to support all our new and existing pastoral care initiatives.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

Illustration for Ordinary Sunday 12 Musings

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