Caring for One Another

Caring for One Another

Pastoral Care

  • The first priority for the trained pastoral staff at Fort Garry United Church relates to congregants finding themselves in emergency situations – where life, health, sanity or liberty are at risk.

    Whether it is at a hospital emergency room, psychiatric ward, remand centre, minimum, medium or maximum security prison, funeral home, risk-of-suicide vigil, addiction treatment facility, deportation hearing, etc., a pastoral care giver can provide invaluable reassurance, experience, and support as you and yours face some of the 3rd degree challenges of life.  They may also be able to introduce you to another congregant, who has had similar experience, who can walk your journey with you.

    When in need – contact the church at 204-475-1586

  • The second priority for the Pastoral Staff relates to the death of loved ones, whether expected or sudden.  The relational and spiritual issues families and friends face when a loved one is dying, or has passed on, can be made easier, and indeed, holier, by the presence and guidance of one of your ministers.  Again, do not overlook the neighbour in the pews who has grief and healing experience.

    Please consider the advance planning materials available on our funeral/memorial page.

    When in need – contact the church at 204-475-1586

  • “A problem shared is a problem halved.”  Almost any problem benefits by discussion with a capable and caring listener. Whether it is an issue of a broken heart, an upset soul, an unsupportive body, a disturbance of mind, or a frictional relationship, you may begin to explore your concerns in a confidential environment with the church’s pastoral staff. 

    Generally speaking, the pastoral staff may be preliminary helpers to assist you to begin to find the assistance you need.  Many issues of this kind develop over long periods before coming to a head. Therefore, please note a couple of realities:

    • Though painful, some concerns may not be considered emergencies that demand instant response from your pastors. You may expect a caring reply to your immediate circumstance, but be asked to wait for the next available appointment;
    • Substantial periods of time may be needed to untangle the knot, or change circumstances.  Counselling support from Pastoral leaders is limited to two or three visits.  Referrals to other, long-term support options, within or beyond the church, should be expected;
    • Expert counselling resources specific to your situation may be required; Again, please be prepared for a referral to other capable helpers, either in, or beyond, the congregation.

    When in need – contact the church at 204-475-1586

Pastoral Care

What is pastoral care? What does pastoral care mean to you? Who do you believe holds the responsibility to provide pastoral care?

Historically, pastoral care centred around God and sin until about the mid 1800’s. Thus, customary solutions developed by religious leaders for ailing, grieving and troubled individuals revolved around religion. Clergy were seen as the main givers of pastoral care because he was revered in the community. Then, in the 19th century there was a shift toward a ministry in which pastoral care no longer focused solely on religion and sin but included spirituality. With this movement away from the traditional view of pastoral care, church members were encouraged to be involved as a support within their community.
Parishioners visited new families in the neighbourhood and families who welcomed a new baby into their home. They often brought a welcome basket befitting the occasion. These gestures of kindness and caring were not really recognized as pastoral care but more of an extension of friendship and support to individuals and families in need.

In the later part of the 20th century the idea of pastoral care evolved into much more than home visitations and counseling from the long-established clerical position. It was no longer considered just one person’s job. Congregants visiting shut-ins, elderly and hospitalized folks started to be recognized as pastoral care workers. As pastoral care workers they formed intentional and purposeful friendships as the carer, walking with one who is suffering, offering understanding and empathy. In essence both the recipient and the giver are on a spiritual journey in which there is a transformation for both as they gain a deeper understanding of themselves.
Pastoral care now takes on a holistic approach because we look at the context in which the receiver is living. For example, is he/she having a hard time with relationships? What is affecting family life? Is there a job loss, substance abuse, death of a family member or close relative? What is happening in society, world, workplace and/or schools? Extending pastoral care to a recipient is not just a one-time event. There is recognition and acknowledgement that effective pastoral care requires follow up with the recipient.

With this continuous evolution of pastoral care, can we properly define it? It does mean relationship building both within the Church and the outside community. In the words of our minister, Min Goo, the essence of pastoral care is treating others with respect and that comes from treating ourselves with respect. “First, we have to speak the truth in love. Listening, in most cases, is the most important thing we can do in pastoral care. Although, sometimes we have to help each other understand what’s really going on in our lives. We have to face the truth about ourselves. It is what is in our hearts that counts.”

“Second, we have to open ourselves to receive. Pastoral care can’t be done if the receiver is not open. We can only know how to receive with open hearts, when we willingly become vulnerable to others. Pastoral care is a journey of transformation and such a journey always begins with our vulnerability and willingness to embrace the truth about ourselves.”

Everything we do in connection with Fort Garry United Church (FGUC) is pastoral care; from Sunday morning volunteers greeting at the door, providing coffee and refreshments before and after worship. Similarly, our monthly lunches may be expressed as fellowship but it is still pastoral care because we are also looking after each other.  A group of our church ladies formed the “lunch bunch” with our elderly parishioners. We have a caring card making group who ensures the congregants living through sorrowful or joyful times receive a card on behalf of our Church members to show our concern and support for their well-being. Every year, volunteers organize and facilitate a cookie run which is not just about funding-raising, but also is an opportunity for volunteers to deliver cookies to shut-ins and elderly members unable to attend regular church services.  We also have a group of ladies who meet in our Church’s loft to do custom quilting.  Check out our Getting Involved webpage for these and other activities that would interest you and we invite you to join a team. 

Min-Goo is continuously giving pastoral care in everything he does during worship and in daily responsibilities directly or indirectly relating to the well-being of our congregants. He may be the designated pastoral care giver for individuals and families whose loved one may be suffering from a terminal illness, death of a close family member or a church member experiencing incredible turmoil in his or her life such as a divorce or job loss. Equally as important, Min-Goo forms relationships within the wider community of our Church by connecting with community groups, conducting worship services and bible study sessions with parishioners in an independent living residence.

At Fort Garry United Church, we embrace pastoral care and all that it means when it comes to looking after each other in Church and the community.