A Word from Our Pastor 2012 April Introducing Our congregational Care Ministry

Introducing Our Congregational Care Ministry

The past season of Lent we have been focusing on “What Can I Do?/What Can We Do?” in a variety of contexts. During these past 5 weeks, we have heard about local poverty, and collected food for the Alameda Food Bank; our Missions Committee encouraged us to prepare and serve food at St. Mary’s Church in Oakland; the Youth Group did the same at the Newman Center on April 7, and we assembled some kits to go to disaster areas.

We also learned about autism, and how we as a community can be more welcoming and supportive to people with this condition; we heard from a Palestinian American about the challenges they face when stereotypes about them abound in the U.S., and they are not able to return home (in his case, to Jerusalem) easily to see family, or even to live in the family home. And finally, we heard about what five people in our congregation are doing to help care for our members as we commissioned our new “Congregational Care Ministers” (CCMs).

Five persons traveled to Kansas City in icy cold February to attend a two-day training session to become Congregational Care Ministers. Congregational Care Ministry is part of the Membership Committee.

Their responsibilities are to:
1.Assist at serving communion
2.Pray daily for the prayer requests that are made on Sunday morning
3.Visit and pray for BMUC members and friends at home, in hospitals and rehab/convalescent homes; provide communion and anointing, if requested
4.Funeral support follow up for bereaved families (in conjunction with Lindsay Hiratzka)
5.Stephen Ministry Counseling (special training required)
6.Recruit and mentor prospective CCMs

This program was officially approved by the Church Council at its February meeting, and very soon after, our CCMs were “on the job.” In the past month, they have made telephone calls and visits to hospitals and homes, along with attending regular meetings. This is what you may expect from BMUC’s Congregational Care Ministry:

For people who are at home and not able to come to church, CCMs will visit once per month, and bring communion along with them.

For people in hospital or convalescent homes, CCMs will visit to provide prayer as needed, depending on the situation.

For the bereaved, the CCMs will follow up with contact approximately 4 times in the first year after the death.

One member of the CCM team will pray daily for the prayer concerns that were mentioned on the previous Sunday.

PLEASE NOTE that the CCMs do not replace what your pastor does. I will continue to visit, in the same way as I have always done. The CCMs will ADD to the spiritual care that you receive from your pastor.

The purpose of this program is to provide SPIRITUAL COMFORT and GUIDANCE to our friends and members. They are acting on Jesus’ behalf – to offer the comfort and support that Jesus demonstrated. In order to be able to do this, the CCMs underwent the intensive training described above. In addition, they are committed to ongoing worship attendance, prayer, study and reflection. This includes a weekly study group and monthly additional training. There may also be extended times for retreat or continuing education events. At present, this commitment is requiring at 3-5 hours per week from each CCM.

Our Congregational Care Ministers are: Jean Hart, Lee Marrs, Flora Ninomiya, Carolyn Soto, and Naty Uno. Jean Hayes continues to volunteer as a Stephen Minister. I know they will be a blessing to our community, and a source of inspiration and support for many.

–Rev. Naomi