Pastoral care of parishioners and those in our circle of care is of special concern at this time.
The following articles and information, drawn from the PCC’s Employee Assistance Program and other expert sources, provide ministry leaders support and guidance on how to care for yourself as well as those close to you, and part of your faith community during these difficult times.
Elders, visitors and all pastoral care workers should give special attention to those who are elderly, ill, unable to get out and around easily and who have limited resources. Remember to take all necessary precautions in personal hygiene before and after pastoral visits in hospitals and homes.
- Click here for a compilation of resources, prepared by the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network , to help you navigate ministry with older adults who are part of your faith communities.
Give special thought to reassuring and educating children and those who might be especially anxious at this time. Help them understand how to think about what they hear and see, and assure them of God’s presence and love.
The following resources provide information and advice on helping children and teens cope with any anxiety they may feel about the present situation:
- A Registered Psychologist on How to Talk to Children About Coronavirus – Sun Life
- Talking with Your Children About COVID-19 – Synod of CNOB (Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda)
- Helping Children with Scary News – Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Look for the Gifts: Praying with Children During a Pandemic – Christine V. Hides, Director of Christian Education, Kenilworth Union Church, Illinois
- Faith-Based Conversations to Have with Children and Youth About COVID-19 – Ministries Across Generations, Disciples Home Missions
- Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19 – Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Webinars: Ministry with Children and Youth During the Pandemic – The United Church of Canada
Update your church website and/or social media pages to show the latest information about services and contact information.
Communicate clearly, calmly and factually.
Remain in contact with those who may be vulnerable or quarantined to ensure that they have their spiritual, social and physical needs attended to. While electronic communication is useful for disseminating information at once to a large group, the telephone is still the best way to keep in touch with people pastorally who may be feeling isolated. Ensuring that those who are sick or isolated for any reason have the things that they need is also an important act of pastoral care.
Generate a weekly prayer call for anyone to call in and share prayer and God’s word for a few minutes during the week. For instance, conference calls and online meetings can be ways of continuing to worship and pray together.
- Staff members of The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s national office can provide guidance on how to set up and host your own online meetings or can set up and host meetings on your behalf. Click here to learn how to request online meeting assistance and support.
- You can also check out this video tutorial on how to host Zoom online meetings.
Look out for your neighbours and encourage congregation members to do the same. One way to do so is by creating small groups that can check in on each other by phone and email and that deliver things to each other.
Donations to food banks, churches and other relief efforts can often be made online.
Continue to address the needs of those who rely on community meals by offering alternate forms of support when outreach programs are cancelled (e.g., distributing take-away sandwiches and gift cards).
As we learn to live differently in this time of social distancing, churches have a unique opportunity to help people remain connected and supported. At this time, we are called to be attentive to the needs around us, invite God to show us how we can serve and respond with creativity and adaptability.
To get you thinking about what might be helpful in your community at this time, we have compiled a list of communication tips and ideas.
Click here for creative and helpful ideas for offering connection and support in:
- Social Media & Online Communication
- Traditional Communication
- Innovative Communication
- General Community Care
Centre for Missional Leadership Pastoral Leaders Online Forum
When: Every Monday at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern) / 1:00 p.m. (Pacific)
CML Director Ross Lockhart and CML Associate Andrea Perrett lead a time of devotion and prayer, along with breakout rooms for pastoral leaders (Teaching and Ruling Elders) to talk with one another about how they are responding to the COVID-19 challenges in ministry. In addition, every week we have a guest speaker who offers a teaching time of 15 minutes on a specific aspect of equipping that is needed for ministry in this new environment. Topics include self-care, dealing with stress and anxiety, what it means to be a “sent” people when stuck at home, pastoral care as missional witness, preaching in a COVID-19 world, and best practices for online worship.
Participants can register by emailing Andrea Perrett. Once on the list, participants will receive an email every Monday morning with details on how to log in for that day’s call.
The Centre for Missional Leadership is a ministry of St. Andrew’s Hall with a mission to equip missional leaders for Christ’s church of tomorrow, today. Please join us for these Monday equipping sessions for pastoral leaders, as we all engage in a significant time of adaptive leadership for The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Cyclical PCC One-Day Online Conference
This is a free event.
Cyclical PCC is a support initiative that assists leaders in discerning calls and taking first steps towards starting new worshipping communities.
This one-day online event will feature dynamic teaching on starting new worshipping communities and conversations about where the church might be heading post-COVID-19. The day will also include breakout discussions, storytelling panels with innovators and discerners, and creative engagement.
The strength of Cyclical PCC’s approach is in the bringing together of leaders for conversation and mutual learning, and this event will be no different.
Using Zoom , we will provide space for conversation, reflection, and connection with others interested in starting new worshipping communities across the PCC.
This is not a conversation about how your church will “survive” or “return to normal” after the pandemic. It is an event for leaders who wish to learn about shifts in ecclesial innovation and starting new worshipping communities, and how those shifts might encourage them in their ministry in the months and years to come.
Cyclical PCC is extending an invitation to all leaders within the church to participate in this one-day conference. Please refer to the conference page for the full event schedule.
Ministers continue to press forward in serving their congregations, all while they themselves are trying to cope and grapple with this unfamiliar reality. Here are a few thoughts on how to carry on from the Rev. Tim Purvis
Don’t take it personally. This is a global crisis, events beyond your control will affect your congregation. Ignore the dangerous little voice at the back of your mind trying to persuade you that, “whatever happens here, it’s your fault.” Be gentle with yourself.
You don’t have to do it all. Focus on what you can do. Do those things well. Set priorities. Ask God for the gift of guilt-free simplicity.
Keep your sense of humour. Maintain perspective. Laugh daily.
Trust your people. You’re not alone—you have elders and members with remarkable gifts. Let them shine.
Tend to your significant relationships. Make time to connect with your spouse, partner, family and friends. Ministry can be isolating enough without physical distancing compounding it.
“Know thyself.” If you’re an introvert, you may be in your glory. If you’re an extrovert, you may be climbing the walls. Develop self-care strategies appropriate to your personality type.
Look after yourself physically. Eat properly. Exercise. Get enough sleep.
Nourish your own spiritual life. Intentionally seek God’s presence. Pray. Read the Scriptures and reflect. Engage in spiritual disciplines that feed your soul.
Connect with your colleagues in ministry for mutual support. Share your joys and struggles. Offer suggestions on how you’re accomplishing the tasks of ministry in the current circumstances.
Remember none of this is especially profound. Most of it is common sense. In the end, perhaps it comes down to living one day at a time in the wonderfully present grace and love of God.
None of us can escape the stress of daily living, but we can learn to manage it better and become better stress managers. Try the following tips to protect your physical and mental health from the strain of stress:
Try some deep breathing. Take a slow deep breath—hold it for five seconds—then slowly exhale.
Learn and practice meditation. Create peaceful mental images.
Take a mental health break. Make some time each day to devote to yourself—sometimes even 10 to 30 minutes really can help.
Strive for balance in your life. Make time for activities you enjoy.
Use your support system. Share your feelings with a caring friend or family member.
Just say no. Remember that it’s OK to say no to requests that push you beyond your limits.
Take one thing at a time. Focus on the task at hand and do it well.
Don’t demand perfection. Ease up on yourself and those around you.
Take care of yourself. Be sure to exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet and get enough rest.
Plan ahead. Factor in time for traffic or other delays so that you’re more relaxed when you get to work or to your appointments.
Develop a positive attitude. Try to view negative situations in a positive way.
Remove the clutter in your life. Clean your house, garage or workspace regularly.
Laughter is the best medicine. Find what makes you laugh. When you’re laughing, you don’t have time to be stressed out. And, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Curb Caffeine. Stimulants such as tobacco and caffeine can rev up your nervous system, which increases stress.
Seek help. At times, you may feel that your stress is difficult to cope with or is interfering with your daily life. If the stress in your life becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from your EAP.
You may also find helpful…
Take a Relaxation Break Exercise – Sun Life
COVID-19 Anxiety & Stress Management Resources – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
To feel your best, it is important to take care of yourself, especially when your job demands so much from you emotionally. Maintaining emotional resilience requires eating well, exercising, keeping work and home life balanced and maintaining good relationships. But there are times when even these things can’t prevent stress and anxiety from creeping in.
That’s why self-care is so important. Taking a small amount of time out of your busy schedule just for yourself is key to handling all your duties while getting the most out of life. Try these tips to give yourself the attention you need to be your best.
Deep Breathing. Deep breathing focuses on using the diaphragm (the spot just under your rib cage) to draw slow, deep breaths into the lungs and to release them slowly. Take a couple of minutes every hour to practice some deep breathing.
Stretching. Stretching exercises can relieve tension, make your body more flexible and produce a calming effect. Even just shrugging your shoulders, stretching your arms and rolling your neck a few times a day can have positive effects.
Meditation and Visualization. Meditation involves “quieting the mind” by blocking out sensory input and distraction, while visualization involves using the brain’s creative capacity to create a stress-free experience, much like daydreaming. Try to carve out 15 minutes daily to quiet you mind and body.
Muscle Relaxation. Progressive muscle-relaxation techniques involve systematically tensing, relaxing and visualizing each major muscle group. It is best to practice these techniques when you have about 20 minutes and are able to find a quiet place where you can lie down without being disturbed.
Calming Thoughts. Our thought patterns often cause or contribute to the stress that we are feeling. The next time you encounter a stressful situation, take a moment to tune into your thoughts and feelings. Write these thoughts down and then write down a more positive replacement.
You may also find helpful…
A Care Package for Uncertain Times – The On Being Project