Pastoral and Spiritual Care

Pastoral care is unique to the Christian religion. The word pastor is Latin for shepherd.

Pastoral care is rooted in the care a shepherd provides his flock. When we think of a shepherd, the 23rd Psalm comes to mind. The shepherd brings the flock to green pastures, ensuring that there are no poisonous plants. He leads them beside still waters, where they can drink clean water. A Pastor attends to the spiritual feeding of their congregation. The shepherd uses his rod and staff to defend the flock against wild animals. The Pastor looks out for threats to their congregation. The shepherd anoints sheep that are wounded with oil; oil is used for healing. The Pastor helps members of the congregation heal their wounds.

Often a person has a relationship with a church for their whole life. The care a church provides assists a person on their journey as they go through stages in life, baptism, wedding, and finally care as their journey draws to an end. Sometimes things happen that wound a person, and the church can provide care to help a person heal.

The care a church provides helps a person to have a healthier life. According to a study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, July 12, 2022, “they noted that for healthy people, spiritual community participation–as exemplified by religious service attendance – is associated with healthier lives, including greater longevity, less depression and suicide, and less substance use.”

The care a church provides is multi-faceted: what goes on within a person spiritually during worship, the teaching offered through the scripture readings, homily and liturgy, intercessory prayer, the sacraments: bread and wine, the support from fellow worshipers, the clergy with whom you have conversations with, and the practical help such as an offer of snow shovelling or a casserole delivered at the front door when someone has died. God is working through all these things.

A cautionary comment, clergy are not qualified as counsellors unless they have received specialized training. However, clergy are often good listeners, can offer spiritual guidance and direction, and can pray with a person. Some problems can be solved with having someone who will just listen.

At St. Stephen’s, the Pastor, the Rev’d Canon Ed Swayze, leads the Pastoral and Spiritual Care team, which includes our Deacon Associate, the Rev’d Barbara Fugelsang, and a Shepherd, Arlene H..

A Shepherd provides pastoral care, maintains contact with parishioners, lets them know that the church cares for them, and makes the Pastor aware of any special situations. A Shepherd may visit new families and shut-ins. If you are interested in becoming a Shepherd, please contact the Pastor.

Pastoral and Spiritual Care happens through participating in worship. Intercessory prayer may be offered to address specific concerns. Pastoral and Spiritual Care needs may also be addressed through Spiritual Formation and Community Building activities. Specific Pastoral and Spiritual Care activities that a church offers are described below.

Parish Visit, Private Communion or In Hospital?

If you would like the clergy or a Shepherd to visit, or if someone is sick, in hospital or shut-in and would like a visit or communion, contact the Pastor.

When you are admitted to hospital, please note on your admitting form that you are Anglican and your parish is St. Stephen’s, and contact the clergy or church office. Hospitals adhere to strict confidentiality rules and deny access otherwise.

House Blessings/Renewal of Wedding Vows

Please contact the Pastor.

Prayer Shawl

The Prayer Shawl Ministry is designed to bring together people willing to knit, crochet or quilt shawls that are then blessed during a Eucharist. These shawls are then given to people in need – for reasons of illness or distress of any kind. Contact the Pastor if you would like to participate in this ministry or if you know someone who could benefit by receiving a prayer shawl.

Marriage Counselling

The Pastor has an inventory that helps a couple assess their relationship. Questions cover marriage expectations, personality issues, communication, conflict resolution, financial management, leisure activities, sexual expectations, children and parenting, family and friends, role relationship and spiritual beliefs.