Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up.
James 5: 13-15a
Ministry of Care
In our parish, caring for one another is core to our life together. We begin with prayer. Every Sunday in the church and early every Wednesday morning in our chapel, we gather to pray. Included in our formal prayers are intercessions for all in particular need of prayer - illness, life transitions, losses, great galumphing positive changes; all of these are times when prayer is especially needed. In addition it is our custom one Sunday a month to offer individual prayers with anointing following communion.
Prayer happens elsewhere; Servants through prayer carry out the discipline of daily prayer for all on our prayer list including those who do not wish their names on a public list. In the event of emergency needs, the servants are alerted and they immediately turn to prayer for that person. Servants through prayer meet quarterly to renew their commitment and engage in prayer and reflection on their ministry.
Prayer sometimes has feet; Parish Visitors are trained lay and clergy who go out to call on those not able to attend church, in hospital or otherwise recuperating from one of life’s challenges. These visitors make their visits as part of the extension of the parish, and have been trained and commissioned. They meet quarterly for mutual support and further education.
Other trained pairs of parishioners carry communion to those wishing to receive but unable to join the Sunday assembly at church. They too meet quarterly, are trained and commissioned and meet one another in support. We find regular meals, transportation to appointments and to church itself can be crucial to restoring someone to full health, and several volunteer their skills in this way.
All those engaged in the ministry of care for others have met the diocesan requirement of Keeping God’s People Safe, a curriculum designed to strengthen our ability to keep a parish and its ministries safe from abuse of any kind.
All these groups serve to extend the ministry of prayerful care of one another far beyond what one priest can do. And in serving others we find the Spirit strengthens our own faith and ability to receive as well as give care.