As Unitarian Universalists, our most significant resources in pastoral care are grounded in the context of our religious community. In our religious community, we give and receive care through all of life’s joys and challenges. Pastor John Patton in his book Pastoral Care in Context writes that pastoral care is “hearing and remembering in relationship.” Understood in this way, our practices of caring: compassionate witness, deep listening, prayer and spiritual direction can help a person discover a greater sense of well-being, or wholeness. We can discover in community a sense of belonging that can create opportunities for healing and personal transformation. It is a gift to be offered the opportunity to care for others, to witness to another person in their moments of deep gladness and and celebration. So too, it is a blessing to be invited into moments of crisis, suffering and pain. I believe all are called to the caring ministry of the congregation. With programs like Lay Pastoral Associates and Caring Teams, congregations can develop a culture of caring where our members and friends grow the capacity to give care as well as receive.
REV. LISSA'S PRACTICES FOR PASTORAL CARE
HOSPITALITY- Pastoral care welcomes all into the church community with love, compassion and generosity regardless of their life experience or identity, including age, ability, sexuality and gender expression, race, class, or education.
WITNESS- Pastoral care is about bearing witness to the lives of others, in their joy and their struggles.
COMPANIONSHIP- Pastoral care is about accompaniment and companionship, offering your self as a partner in the journey.
LISTENING- Practicing deep and open listening—listening more than talking, truly receiving more than advice giving.
THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION- "Theological reflection is to allow the thoughts, feelings, images and insights that arise from the concrete events of our lives to be in genuine conversation with the wisdom and values of our religious community and the resources of our faith heritage and tradition. " The Art of Theological Reflection Patricia O’Connell Killen and John deBeer
PRESENT MOMENT- Pastoral care is relational, but it is in the moment and of the moment, it is not an ongoing practice of therapy or counseling. It is flexible and responsive to the present needs without regard for future solutions.
CONNECTION – Connecting to groups, practices, opportunities within the church and within the community. Connection to resources.
PLAY- Particularly with children, but with youth and adults too, pastoral care is about offering opportunities for play, wonder, awe, and creativity. Sometimes, the best way to be present to a difficult moment is to offer humor and joy.
RITES OF PASSAGE- Pastoral care recognizes, memorializes and celebrates rites of passage. Birth or adoption of a child, maturation (Coming of Age, High School graduation), marriage, illness and death.
SYSTEMS—Pastoral care recognizes that individuals are a part of a family system, and families are a part of a community and church system. Each person’s needs are contextual to that system.
CULTURALLY COMPETENT and CULTURALLY CURIOUS: Pastoral care recognizes that each person’s needs are contextual to a certain culture, whether that be race, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity, faith background or life experience. We must enter into a pastoral relationship with sensitivity, curiosity, suspending judgments and learning about these needs. We serve all.
ACCOUNTABLE TO COMMUNITY OF MINISTRY: Pastoral care-givers do not serve alone. Pastoral care is done in the context of a church community. Be clear about your own skills and strengths and your own limitations. Make referrals. Avoid triangulation and gossip. Always be aware of confidentiality.