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Family: A basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.
–Random House Dictionary
There are many different kinds of families, and, while none of them are perfect, it seems that almost everyone would agree on how families should treat one another: Families support, encourage, and serve one another. They share each other’s struggles and celebrations. Above all, families care for each other and provide love.
Jesus gave us a new understanding of family – the family of God and the family of faith. According to Jesus, neither the nuclear family nor the household was the primary unit of God’s creation. Rather, one’s faith commitment and faith family were central to God’s purpose.
We often speak of our “family” here at St. Peter’s. We may not all have the same last name, but our relationship comes from being a family in the body of Christ. In our church family, Jesus Christ is our head, our Father. He is the authority. We as individuals in the church are His children and siblings to one another.
As part of God’s family, we are called to care for each other. Having a heart that cares shows that we are seeking to be like Jesus. Jesus’ compassion for others was evident throughout the Gospels. Going from place to place and from town to town, he met both the spiritual and physical needs of the people: healing the sick, comforting the poor, and feeding the hungry.
These two ministries wonderfully illustrate how we, as part of St. Peter’s family and as sons and daughters of Jesus Christ, carry out His mission for us to care for each other: The In Touch Ministry and The Nightingales.
In Touch Ministry
Formed in October 2013, the In Touch team was created from an idea from the Transition Team to increase contact with congregational members without further burdening our staff. The primary mission of the In Touch ministry is to reach out to church members who are recovering at home, facing an illness or personal struggle, or have lost a loved one.
There are two groups within this ministry – one that makes personal phone calls, and the other that sends cards and letters.
As a fairly new ministry to St. Peter’s, volunteers began with a training session with Pastor Cleckley from Luther Acres and Pastor Ross, who discussed basic pastoral care strategies, active listening skills, gentle exploration of needs, confidentiality and validation of feelings.
Typically, call needs are identified and channeled through Pastor Ross to the In Touch call coordinator. Occasionally the group will receive phone calls from members directly asking if they could make a call to someone they know who is in need. They currently average about four calls per week.
The card ministry side of the In Touch team is currently comprised of two people: Ann Lerrick and Movita Groff. When her husband had been injured, Ann saw first-hand the genuine impact and meaning the cards had for him during his recovery. This, along with her card making skills and the desire to make a positive, caring difference, prompted her to join the In Touch team. She quickly recruited Movita who also had an interest in making cards and making a difference.
Together, they personally create and send out handcrafted cards to those church members in need. The majority of the cards fall into the following categories: “Thinking of You”, “Sympathy”, “Birth”, and “Get Well”. Ann has had numerous people who received cards approach her personally to thank her for this outreach.
They would love to have any church members join them in creating the cards, or, if they would prefer, to donate cardstock, envelopes, or other needed card making supplies. Any of these would be greatly appreciated! Contact the church office if you can help.
St. Peter’s hospital visitation group, known as “The Nightingales”, was formed in September of 2004 under the direction of Pastor Ross. The purpose of this ministry is to provide weekend and mid-week visits to our hospitalized church members, and also give some relief of this duty to our clergy.
While some of the Nightingales are nurses, this is not a requirement. Florence Nightingale, a pioneer of modern medicine and nursing reform, was known as “The Lady with the Lamp”, a ministering angel of Christian divine calling. According to Sally Price, “While we can’t fit into that marvelous mold, every person in the group is lending their own light through their visits which give support, encouragement, and prayer”.
The Nightingales find out about visitation needs by calling the local hospitals (Lancaster General, Lancaster Regional, and Heart of Lancaster) on their scheduled visitation days to see if any of our parishioners are in. They also contact Pastor Ross and the church office for any updated information. Nightingale volunteers visit on either a Saturday or Sunday, and mid-week on Wednesdays. Each volunteer is given the flexibility of determining the timing of their visits so that it suits both their schedule and the recipient. Often, there is no other family member present during these visits and, depending on the time/situation, (ex. the patient is resting), they will offer quiet prayer. Typically visits are kept brief with light conversation, expression of well-wishes from everyone at St. Peter’s, and to see if there is anything that is needed when the patient returns home (ex. meals, home visits, etc.).
Their general rules for visitation are: volunteers should not visit in bad weather or if they are ill, or if a patient is in isolation or the Intensive Care Unit. They should visit only if they are comfortable with procedures. Volunteers are counseled to keep visits brief, allowing the patient to express his/her own feelings – not their own. They also must keep all information confidential. Nightingales are not required to visit on holidays, although many still do by their own choice.
Training for the Nightingales team is informal. They will review the rules, provide support to visits when a volunteer is first starting and as needed. Sometimes another member will accompany a new member if support is needed.