Heading into the third and final year of my three year commitment to do pastoral care as a volunteer visitation minister with you at Zion, I feel the need to share what I’ve experienced so far and my hopes for the future.
First of all I’d really like to thank those of you who have been a part of the Congregational Care Team to date. With your help and compassion we are able to bring communion monthly and visit with about 20 members of our congregation who would otherwise not be connected to Zion. Every month our members living in care centers, those with limited mobility, and people who might need a boost receive a card of encouragement from Zion. We are supporting those who have recently experienced the death of a loved one and lifting them up with a card ministry as well. Just this fall we have begun to offer support to those in a caregiver role and, while many have not been able to attend formal meetings, we’ll continue to seek ways to connect people to the supports and faces they need. Twice a year the Congregational Care Team also hosts a Service of Healing and Prayer that has brought comfort and hope to members in time of need. The Congregational Care Team also hosts the annual All Saints Day worship service.
With that said, let me share with you my greatest hope for this coming year: to ensure that everyone who is in our member records, especially our older members, knows that they are cared for by the folks at Zion Lutheran Church. That sounds ambitious, but let me explain. At this time in the life of our church, none of the pastors on staff has more than a 10 year tie to the congregation. We don’t have the luxury of readily knowing family connections that former pastors who were rooted in the community for 30+ years learned over time. And that’s okay. Time changes situations. Our church has grown in membership exponentially. Today it requires more people to be in relationship with our larger church population. All good.
Beginning with our oldest member in the congregation, over this next year, we will reach out and try to connect. We’ll try to connect so that we can discover how people are doing and where they are at in life. Has there been a move we don’t know about? A change in family structure? Have there been changes in health? All the real issues that happen in life but we, as the church, don’t always hear. And, if someone has connected to another faith community that is okay too. It is my hope that people know, regardless of their situation, that Jesus has always remained a constant, loving, guiding presence in their life and that we will do what we can from our end to help people feel connected to the love of Christ that we share and experience at Zion.
So, if you personally know of someone who might have drifted away from Zion’s caring community, please pass their name along. Caring for one another takes all of us, and every week I either witness or hear amazing stories of how you care for each other in this place as the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s wonderful to be a part of and I look forward with anticipation to seeing and hearing in new ways how God might use all of us to further express His grace, mercy, and unending love at Zion.