PASTORAL CARE

From the 2020 Ministry Narrative

Pastoral Care takes on a variety of expressions unique to every parish and context. For most communities, parishioners and staff take care of each other in times of need. In ordinary times, All Saints clergy and Eucharistic Visitors make themselves available for home communion or hospital visitations.

During the 8 months without a rector, All Saints formed a Pastoral Care Committee. This included Eucharistic Visitors, the prayer chain, people willing to make hospital visits or offer rides, as well as 6 retired clergy who were available for any pastoral emergencies that might arise. The All Saints family has always done a great job of taking care of each other and during those months was no exception. On Sundays our supply priests sent forth Eucharistic Visitors to take communion to our brothers and sisters in Christ at the Vets Home and Beehive in Columbia Falls, as well as do home communions for parishioners who were unable to attend church in-person.

Parishioners know that at any time, all they need to do is pick up the phone or send an email or text to be connected with the prayer chain or any other type of support. As a church, we are not only able to do that, but we are eager to do what we can to help each other out when times are tough. Prior to the pandemic the vestry hosted a Back to School BBQ and intergenerational game nights to keep us connected as a family. During the pandemic, we’ve bought each other groceries, taken each other to the doctor, written notes, and made phone calls “just to check in”. Our youngest parishioners made dozens and dozens of cards to make sure that our elders do not feel forgotten.

Since Fr. Charlie started his time at All Saints during quarantine, the drive of this community to take care of its own has been a blessing. But since making introductions and building trust has been complicated by social distancing, the Rector has been hosting 4 online office hours during the week so that parishioners can “drop by”, virtually, and say hello. To meet social needs during this time of isolation, All Saints started a virtual Friday Happy Hour and Sunday Morning Coffee Hour. Even though attendance began to taper off as we reached Phase Two of the governor’s plan for reopening the state, these unstructured chats not only allowed us to see old friends, but welcome several Montana Episcopalians looking for fellowship in areas of the state no longer served by a church.

The Dogs and Donuts fellowship began midsummer at the Hugh Rogers WAG park in Whitefish. This weekly gathering has provided fellowship and support (and baked goods!) for several in our community with no church home.

Finally, the Church provides considerable pastoral care to many we only know through stories. The wider mission of the church, again supported by our diocesan assessment, provides extensive pastoral care for those in the dawn of life, the children, and to those in the twilight of life, the elderly. Our pledges and our gifts support ministries which provide not only direct services, but also training to lay and ordained ministers throughout our country and the world.