Last fall when the Care Committee finished their work the Deacons thanked them for their years of service and proceeded to make arrangements for a new set of programs to create ways that volunteers could serve as caring arms and listening ears. In the process they created a new ministry, called Open Hands Ministry.
Modeled on the Stephen’s Ministry Program so popular in hundreds of churches across our nation in many mainline Protestant denominations, Open Hands Ministry is our way of meeting the needs in the congregation to provide Transportation, Personal Friendship and Support in times of grief. The program as we have designed it has three components.
Transportation: These are volunteers who have signed up to offer rides to people who cannot get to worship.
Friend to Friend : These are volunteers who will visit people in the congregation who are home bound or in a nursing facility.
Memorial Receptions: These are volunteers who have offered to assist at receptions following a funeral or memorial service.
We have held two training sessions in the last 5 weeks, in which we talked for 2 hours each time about issues of confidentiality, good listening skills and how best to help offer support when you visit another parishioner on behalf of the church. Fourteen volunteers attended one or both of these sessions.
This week we began to match people with the folks who will be visited. People who are homebound or in a nursing facility will receive a visit from one of these volunteers approximately once a month. When someone is in a crisis, they can expect a visit from a volunteer on a more regular basis, if that is their wish.
The receptions after funerals and memorial services have continued with volunteers in a very smooth transition. We also have a strong list of potential drivers who have offered to give rides to anyone who cannot get to worship.
What are the next steps?
More training sessions: If you are interested in working on one of these ministry teams and have not attended one of the training sessions, please speak to me so that I can be sure to set up some more times for trainings.
If you would like to have a volunteer visitor come to see you but are not currently homebound or living in a nursing facility, please let me know.
If you need a ride to church please call Matt in the church office and we will find a volunteer to bring you on Sundays.
This was a good team effort for the last six months. I want to express publicly my special appreciation to our volunteers who have felt called to serve in this way, and to our Deacons who have monitored this transition and helped to make it so smooth.
Blessings Rev. Susan
Next Wednesday - Our speaker at the Lenten series will be Rod MacDonald a retired minister from Brewster who is working on a group that supports refugees in Massachusetts and helped with some families who visited Cape Cod last summer. He will be coming to tells us what they did and why it matters so much. Potluck starts at 5 p.m. We finish promptly at 7 p.m. All are welcome. Bring a friend.