One of the highlights of my seminary experience was an eight-month hospice chaplaincy internship as part of clinical pastoral education. Although I began my internship with the same fear everyone has about not knowing what to say or how to pray with the mostly-Christian patients that I served, weekly visits with patients while shadowing my mentor taught me that pastoral care was all about striving to be a non-anxious, compassionate listening presence. It wasn’t about me or my theology, it was about being present, listening to another’s story in the context of ultimate meanings and concerns in their lives. I eventually made visits on my own and found it to be truly sacred work. And, I recognized its importance in the life of a religious community. We informally care for each other as we engage in the life of the congregation – attending meetings, coffee hour, social justice projects.
The Pastoral Care Ministry is a more formal expression of our care for each other. It engages the generosity of individuals willing to share their skills to provide compassionate listening, spiritual support and hope for members and friends of the congregation during life’s transitions. Ordained ministers often cannot meet the pastoral needs of the congregation alone and rely on trained and supervised pastoral visitors to be an extension of the minister’s pastoral presence. Working with the Pastoral Visitors at UUCA is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work.
One of the goals of our Pastoral Visitors Team this year is to increase the visibility of this important ministry and provide programming that addresses some of the stressors that many of us face throughout our lives. We invite you to participate in this year’s programs and welcome suggestions for future programs. Here is what we have planned so far:
November 28, 7PM Domestic Violence Panel & Discussion.
An opportunity to dispel assumptions about domestic violence and learn how it impacts communities. There will be a separate workshop for youth: “Consent is Everything.”
December 5, 7PM Thinking Differently About the Holidays: Moving from Terrible to Tranquil
December 9, 2PM Blue Christmas Service.
A service for those “feeling blue” during the holiday season intended to create a space for reflection, healing, and hope.
During our meetings, we have been exploring the ways in which a caring community behaves. We invite you to join in the conversation. How can all of us be generous with our time and listening skills to support each other? Please visit the bulletin board in Sandburg Hall and contribute your thoughts on how a caring community behaves. It is a collective effort to build and sustain beloved community. Your input will help us strengthen the shared ministry of pastoral care at UUCA. You can also share feedback with any member of the Pastoral Visitors Team: Karin Eckert, Iris Hardin, Jill Preyer, Ephraim Schecter, Myrtle Staples, and Carol Taylor.
Rev. Claudia Jiménez
Minister of Faith Development
For those experiencing holiday blues, I recommend SWIM, the Southeast UU Winter Institute Midflorida. It’s an inter generational UU camp in Lake Placid, FL. It has the potential to offer those in need something to look forward to – a week in Florida with like minded people, workshops, trips, worship, music. I’d be glad to provide additional information, and recommend checking us out at our website, swimuu .org, or on Facebook.
Mary Ann Somervill