Lay Pastoral Care Associates
In December, 14 members of 1U dedicated themselves to training to become our first team of Lay Pastoral Care Associates. The team will be formally introduced to the congregation during worship on February 10. Meanwhile, here is a description of the program.
What Is Lay Pastoral Care?
Lay Pastoral Care is a minister-extending program to provide a confidential, caring presence to congregants undergoing stressful life challenges such as illness, death of a loved one, marriage, divorce or separation, job loss, retirement, hospital or nursing home stays, loss of income, and/or relocation. People can call upon a Lay Pastoral Care Associate when they are in pain, sick, lonely, or struggling with changes. It can be comforting to know you're not alone, and it helps to have someone from your faith community listen, care, and offer support.
Who Are the Lay Pastoral Care Associates?
Lay Pastoral Care Associates are effective and accepting listeners and supportive friends. Through ongoing training they put the Unitarian Universalist principles to work assisting people in need within an ethical framework of confidentiality and a focus on working for the benefit of the person being served. Lay Pastoral Care Associates are selected and trained by the minister.
What Do Lay Pastoral Care Associates Do?
• Lay Pastoral Care Associates offer a 'ministry of presence' - listening and support - to people in times of transition.
• They develop confidential relationship ranging from one or two phone conversations to regularly scheduled visits over many months.
• They consult with the minister, and offer access to other resources - including the resources of the Caring Circle.
The 1U Care Team - The Congregation Working Together
Our Caring Circle continues to be the 'doing' arm of the team. They provide practical, short-term logistical services - transportation, meals, shopping, companionship, etc. They alert the minister and/or the Lay Pastoral Care Associate Coordinator of persons who may need the longer-term, confidential listening services of a Lay Pastoral Care Associate.
The Lay Pastoral Care Associates are the "being present" arm of the team. In the course of their confidential relationship they may become aware of a logistical need of their care receiver and will alert the minister and/or the Caring Circle Chair/s of the situation.
The minister meets monthly with the Lay Pastoral Care Associates and is in regular contact with the LPCA Coordinator and Caring Committee Chair/s to offer support and guidance and to intervene in situations where a minister's presence is appropriate.
The congregation is the body of the team. As members interact with each other at church activities either formally or informally they listen for signs that someone might be facing challenges that might be more easily met by having a caring listener. Members of the congregation may suggest an Associate to their friend, to the minister, or to the LPCA Coordinator.
What else do I need to know?
Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the Lay Pastoral Care Associates program. The Associates undergo extensive training in maintaining confidentiality, and the only people who know of your participation in the program are your Lay Pastoral Care Associate, the LPCA Coordinator, the minister, and whomever you choose to tell. No names are mentioned during the monthly meetings.
Your Lay Pastoral Care Associates are listed on the insert of a brochure. They have undergone initial training in active listening, boundary setting, and confidentiality and are eager to be of service.
If you or someone you know would benefit from having a non-judgmental, supportive listener, please contact Harriett Smithson, the Coordinator for our Lay Pastoral Care Associates at