Thought for the Week – Pastoral care at St James’s

Petra Griffiths, Pastoral Care Coordinator, talks about our pastoral concern for one another as part of the St James’s community.

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Petra Griffiths

On Trinity Sunday we often hear sermons about how hard it is to fathom the inter-relatedness of the three persons of the Trinity. The famous Rublev icon illustrates that sense of relatedness. Through our pastoral concern for one another as part of the St James’s community – which all are welcome to join – we give expression to this essential inter-relatedness at the heart of life.

My experience has been that community members at St James’s are consistently concerned about how someone going through a difficult time can best be supported. We are now in a period of change in how we look at pastoral care, and are linking it more closely with the developing work on safeguarding – which is also a concern of our whole community rather than just of Safeguarding personnel.

What we have found is that when someone is ill or otherwise in need of some support, it is those people who they already know who they want visits and phone calls from, in addition to members of our clergy. Ayla is now staying in touch with individuals in need of regular support. My role as pastoral care coordinator mainly involves acting as a community catalyst, enabling support to happen. What this means is that, where requested,  we get in touch with individuals known to the person, or with members of groups and other activities that the person has been involved with, and let them know what help is needed and how this can be done (e.g. details of any hospital that someone is in and the visiting arrangements). People then decide for themselves how often to visit and whether to go on their own or in a pair. Sometimes we call on community members who have particular knowledge to give us advice or help with the practical things that are needed, such as access to benefits, grants or equipment at home. We also know that help from Local Authorities or voluntary bodies can be a vital element of care.

We want to thank those pastoral volunteers who are still providing invaluable support to members of our community, for example people who can’t leave their home or are in insolation.

Mutual support also happens in a natural way through groups and courses where people meet in groups of 6-10.  We are committed to organising a range of such opportunities, including the Camino course from February and Camino Companions from May. Already people find the Sunday Forum an invaluable network, for which they regularly give thanks.

You are welcome to be in touch with Ayla or any of the clergy, or to email me at about any pastoral concerns you have.