With over eight hundred people officially on the membership roles and many more who are still a part of the St. James community, providing pastoral care in times of crises and joy is a daunting task. I am grateful for the trained volunteers who are a part of the Pastoral Care Team and Befrienders Ministry. They make it possible for us, as a church, to visit in homes, hospitals, and care facilities. We pray, share sacrament, and are present for those who need spiritual support. As a pastor, I still make these visits too but couldn't cover all of them and do everything else that ministry requires.
Since June of 2017, I have been the sole provider of pastoral care in cases of emergencies and to be present when someone is dying. This has meant that I've been on call for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The only break in this time was vacation. Having to have a phone on me at all times, knowing that it might ring at any moment is a burden that other emergency care providers know all too well. When a call is received, it must take priority. Providing regular relief to emergency and on-call providers is essential to maintain healthy boundaries, family care, and prevent burnout.
St. James Council and Pastoral Support teams encouraged me to find such coverage. I am happy to share with the congregation the result of my efforts. St. James Lutheran is partnering with Lydia Place in St. Paul. Lydia Place is a mission start that is under the leadership of Pastor Scott Simmons. Currently, it is housed in an Art Gallery on University Ave and takes an innovative approach to ministering to the local neighborhood. A steady stream of students from Luther Seminary connect with Lydia’s Place as part of their formation to be pastors. Pastor Scott will coordinate these students to provide St. James with weekend on-call coverage (from Thursday evening to Sunday morning.) All of these students have undergone Clinical Pastoral Education and have been trained to respond to critical situation.
Should you need pastoral care in an emergency call the Church Office at any time, night or day. 952-890-4534. You will be connected with the on-call pastoral provider. For most of the week, that will still be me. From Thursday night to Sunday morning, it will be a Seminarian. Further, I will follow up on any care that has been given when I’m off-call.
I am grateful for the wisdom of our Council, Pastoral Support Team, and Pastoral Care Team that has recognized the importance of sabbath rest for the sake of long-term ministry. Knowing that St. James’ emergency pastoral needs are being covered, I will be able to rest a little deeper this evening as I enter sabbath rest. This rest allows me to be more fully present to the needs and challenges that will arise.
I look forward to worship with you this Sunday,
In Christ’s Light,