Depending on the nature of an individual’s concern or issue, either that individual may request or the pastoral care committee may decide that the formation of a pastoral care assistance committee could be helpful. The role of this committee is to assist the Friend with whatever stands in the way of living in the Spirit, such as temporary financial distress or job loss, the loss of a loved one through estrangement or death, the development of a physical incapacity, behavior problems associated with illness or trauma, or inappropriate behavior in meeting for worship or other meeting activities. It is important that the pastoral care committee be able to recognize when the issue at hand lies outside the competence of its members; in that case the pastoral care committee will support the individual in seeking professional help.
The following queries may help those who serve on a pastoral care assistance committee:
- Am I able to respect and be present to the person in need without imposing my own judgment?
- Can I listen with compassion to the Friend’s account of the situation and the Friend’s deepest concerns? Douglas Steere suggests that, “To ‘listen’ another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.”
- Am I ready to help the person in need turn the situation over to Spirit without expectation but in the hope that “way will open” for a solution to be found?
- Am I prepared to assist the person in finding professional help, if this seems to be required?
Those who have the experience of serving on a pastoral care assistance committee may discover that it has been an opportunity to deepen their own spiritual understanding as well as to become better acquainted with another member or attender of the meeting.