Rector's letter for June

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14

During the season of Easter, we were thinking about Jesus as the good shepherd. Jesus knows and loves his sheep, and his sheep know and follow him. One of the things which distinguishes a shepherd is the crook he carries – a long stick with a hook on the end. Presumably, originally a shepherd would use this to rescue a sheep which had fallen in a ditch. We see our bishops today carry a crook when they are performing their public duties, particularly in church services.  One of the roles of a bishop is of a pastor – one who looks after the people in his or her diocese. He or she leads and guides, cares, prays for and loves his or her flock.

Clergy and lay people share in this ministry of pastoral care. It is not confined to bishops and clergy, but something which we are all called to do for one another, in our churches and in our communities. Christians are called to love one another and care for one another as Christ loves and cares for us. You do not need to be ordained to do that!

Over the last few months, a group of people from our Benefice and neighbouring parishes have got together to look at pastoral ministry in a bit more depth. These people have volunteered and, we believe, are called to share in this ministry of pastoral care in our parishes. Over eight weeks we have looked at such subjects as a theology of pastoral care, listening skills, visiting the sick, families, the bereaved and the practicalities of a visit. The course has been led by myself, Julia and the the new Rector at West Monkton, Mary Styles. We have gelled well together as group, we have learnt a lot, we have had fun together and got to know each other, and we shall soon be ready to develop and use our new skills.

At a service on 4 June they shall be commissioned by our Rural Dean. He will present each one of them with a letter of commissioning from the Bishop, showing that they are sharing in the ministry of pastoral care with their Incumbent and with him. I believe this is an important moment, as we recognise and celebrate the ministry of these lay people.  More details will be made known about how this ministry will work in practice, but I hope you will come to this special service and give our new Lay Pastoral Assistants your full support. And if one comes knocking on your door, for whate ver reason, I hope you will recognise that they come in the name of the church and with our blessing and support. We hope it will mean that more people mayreceive the love, care and support they need at particular times in their lives.

With every blessing


Rebecca Harris


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