Why am I Here?
That question can come from a desire for introspection: What is my purpose in life? It can come from annoyance: Why am I stuck in this work meeting that has nothing to do with my position? Or it can come from an opportunity to explain why you do what you do: I’m here because there are needs that need to be met.
Why Is Pastor Dave Serving as an Interim Pastor at Zion?
The answer to that question is complex, but at its base, the answer is that pastoral care is an important part of the mission and ministry of this community of faith. Presently Zion has a number of members with issues of limited mobility, meaning attending weekly worship is difficult. There are more who are residents of care centers in Buffalo and the surrounding area. And then there are those events that arise in life that interrupt the status quo—an accident, a needed surgery, a sudden illness, a loss of job, home, relationship, loved one—the list is long.
Even though responding to these events and issues has long been called “pastoral” care, this ministry is not reserved for ordained clergy. Zion has a Congregational Care Team made up of those who visit members who are homebound or in care centers and bring Holy Communion. Cards of caring and condolences are sent out each month to those known to be dealing with grief or other difficulties. Sunday morning greeters pay attention to who might need a call or other contact. The work of the team reminds us of Martin Luther’s concept of “the priesthood of all believers,” not just clergy. It is vitally important that those who consider Zion their church home feel loved and connected to the congregation, though they may not be able to attend regularly.
The pastors certainly have a role, however. When a month has five Sundays, worship includes an invitation to come forward for individual prayer. All three pastors are available for short-term personal counseling sessions, usually limited to five sessions before further referral might be made. And all three of us visit people in hospitals and in homes, make phone calls, and send notes and e-mails to those in difficult times.
But in a community as large as Zion, it would be easy for the other demands of daily church life to overwhelm the pastors if there wasn’t one person whose focus was specifically on ministering to those in need. For this interim time, that’s me. It is still possible that a pastoral care issue might be missed, but my position is to try to reduce the likelihood as much as humanly feasible.
Some of that depends on each person in the Zion community. I think I can speak for Pastor Ted and Pastor Suzi when I say that mind-reading was not offered in school. If we don’t know about an issue, we can’t respond to it. So if you or someone you know is going through a trying time, or having surgery, or has any other kind of life event that might benefit from someone reaching out, please let us know. We’d rather hear about it seventy times than not at all.