Pastoral care volunteers connecting with communities

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Throughout 2014 and early 2015 BaptistCare, in partnership with the Association of Baptist Churches, undertook a pilot to train and deploy Volunteer Pastoral Care Visitors into the community. The inaugural team of volunteers recently graduated, with 15 men and women in the Hills district completing the program.
The program sees volunteer pastoral carers visiting BaptistCare Home Services clients in their homes, offering friendship, support and an opportunity to talk and be heard in a genuinely meaningful setting.
“For BaptistCare, providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to clients is paramount. These volunteers are helping seniors and older Australians living in their own homes by arriving on their door step, enjoying a cup of tea and providing a listening ear in a safe and relaxed way,” said Trevor Wight, Senior Chaplain.
“While we often talk about living in communities, the reality is that loneliness is an issue for so many older Australians. Connecting with people is important for our wellbeing, and these volunteers are the link between the community and our clients,” said Ross Low, Chief Executive Officer.
“I am particularly inspired by this group of volunteers, who have decided to humbly devote their time, energy and service to this unique opportunity, which allows us to further fulfil our promise of providing Care you can trust,” said Ross.
The eight week pastoral care course, led by BaptistCare Chaplains, equips people for volunteer ministry in the community, specifically BaptistCare Home Services clients, as well as within and through their local church.
Graduate Margaret summarised what the program has meant to her during the Graduation event: “I didn’t know if I wanted to get out into the big wide world, but God was pushing me and I’m glad He did. To go out there and visit people – I love it,” she said.
Another graduate, Jenny, reflected that “it’s a privilege and joy to be able to visit with folk and in some way be an encouragement to them, listening to them and by being there as a support. I am learning a lot and will continue to do so. I will continue to pray for these dear folk and that I will be a channel of God’s love and care for them.”
The program itself has also proven to be simultaneously beneficial to the volunteers; one of whom said, “…it is a course with a heart. It will inspire you and stir your spirit!”
An integral part of BaptistCare’s volunteer pastoral care visitors program is the partnership between BaptistCare and local Baptist Churches, with the enthusiastic support of the Baptist Association. Ken Clendinning, Director of Ministries, is encouraged team members will be able to “pastorally engage with the people the church might not otherwise have any connection with.”
This partnership with local churches expands the opportunity to actively demonstrate Jesus’ love to people in our community, many of them not even aware of their spiritual need. In places where local churches are struggling to build bridges in the community this is an excellent way to connect.
BaptistCare is now planning to extend this program across a number of Home Service sites, beginning with Wagga Wagga in the Riverina and Macquarie Park in Sydney. Our Chaplain for the Hills District, Ross Wakeley, has taken on a Team Leader role for this program in order to focus on training and supporting the Volunteer Pastoral Care Visitors over the coming two years.
BaptistCare will be contacting Churches in the areas where the training will be implemented to invite involvement from those in their congregations. In the meantime please don’t hesitate to contact Volunteers Community Engagement Manager, Brendan Wood via BWood@BaptistCare.org.au if you have any further questions.

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