The ministry of pastoral care provides leadership in sustaining a caring and loving meeting community.
While pastoral care may be the special responsibility of members serving on meeting Care Committees, it is a ministry carried out by all Friends in a spirit of affectionate concern and unity with others.
Helping Friends find their appropriate role as nurturers of others and supporting efforts to foster harmony in the life of the meeting is the call of this work.
Care Committee Responsibilities
Care Committee members acquaint themselves with meeting members, visiting them in their homes, if possible, maintaining regular contact with all members and attenders in a spirit of loving interest and concern.
The Care Committee is aware of and fosters influences that develop the religious life of the children and young people, whether members or non-members of meeting. It assists in giving them an understanding of the principles and practices of the Society of Friends.
Strengthening the work of the Committee on Religious Education of Children and other committees seeking similar ends, Care Committee members strive to enable young people to have a creative part in the life of the meeting recognizing the important contribution they make to the spirit of the meeting community.
At times members often move outside the orbit of the meeting. Pastoral care becomes difficult whenever members live at too great a distance to participate in the life of the meeting. Regardless of the practical difficulties of caring for these long-distance members, the Care Committee can offer care to them.
Letters, including email, etc., can be written for those who are non-resident to give them news of the meeting and its activities and to let them know that the meeting is interested in their spiritual well-being and personal welfare.
When appropriate, members at a distance should be urged to consider the advantages of transferring their membership closer to their residences.
Care Committees pay special attention to new members, making them feel welcome, introducing them to other Friends in meeting and offering them opportunities to deepen their knowledge of Friends beliefs and practices. This special attention is encouraged to continue for months or years, if necessary.
The Care Committee sees to it that the meeting responds in good order to requests to be married under its care taking the lead in bringing into the fellowship of the meeting the partners of members.
When a couple within the meeting is considering divorce, the Care Committee may explore the possibility of reconciliation. Members encourage an equitable, non-adversarial separation and seek to maintain the meeting’s connection with both parties.
The Care Committee, or a specially appointed group in meeting, seeks to provide for those members in need of material assistance.
Friends are advised to be open-hearted and liberal in providing funds while exercising tactful watch in ascertaining and meeting financial needs.
Visiting the sick and extending sympathy and assistance to families in times of serious illness, bereavement or other troubles are important ways to express the meeting’s love and concern for its members and attenders.
Care Committee members see to it that a memorial meeting is held upon the death of a member and may offer to do so upon the death of a non-member. Some meetings have a separate Memorial/Funeral Committee of members specially gifted in these matters.