Pastoral Care

The coronavirus pandemic is generating understandable anxiety in the population at large and we are not immune from this.  Coupled with this, those who are self-isolating, may feel particularly isolated and concerned right now and the impact on those with fragile mental health is likely to be significant.  How can churches help minimise this sense of isolation without contravening the guidelines suggested by the Baptist Union?

 

Advice on pastoral visiting for Ministers during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/569084/Coronavirus_advice_for.aspx and must be followed.

 

Some ideas:-

 

  • Keep in contact with others regularly; by text, email, WhatsApp but especially in more personal ways which avoid physical contact such as phone/Skype/Facetime calls.

 

  • Go retro! Many churches have previously used ‘Prayer Chains’ where one church member phones another with prayer requests, who then phones another, and so on. Such a system typically led to short but meaningful conversations with all those in the Prayer Chain in a relatively short period of time.  Note that permission to share phone numbers must be gained from all those who will form a prayer chain.

 

  • Appoint suitable and trustworthy people (e.g. selected from the church pastoral care team) to make an agreed number of phone calls to isolated people each day/week. On the initial call, recipients can be asked whether they would like to receive regular calls and if so at what frequency.  It would be helpful to appoint a co-ordinator to whom any specific concerns can be reported by those making the calls.

 

  • Establish a daily rhythm of prayer. Praying in this way can create a positive sense of connectedness which serves to remind us that we are an active part of a community even though we are not physically together. This is an ancient and reliable method of community life developed by dispersed communities.  Many resources are available, for example the Northumbria Community Daily Office here https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/how-to-use-daily-office/

 

  • Create a telephone hotline for church members which could be staffed between set hours of the day.