Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pastoral Care - Did You Know???

“God the one who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble.  We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

One of the jobs of your pastoral staff (Blake and myself) is to provide meaningful and appropriate care to all in our church fellowship who have pastoral needs.  This includes situations such as births, deaths, serious illnesses, hospitalizations, and other crises.  To help meet these needs, you need to know that we as a church currently have the following practices and services in place:
● Blake and I make Hospital Visits each week to hospitalized members and friends.  Generally, Blake visits on Mondays-Tuesdays, I visit on Wednesdays-Thursdays, and the “Pastor On Call” (see below) on Fridays-Sundays, but whoever visits shares information with the other so we are both always “in the loop” about major pastor issues.  Both of us also make emergency pastoral crisis visits as needed.  Please contact the church office or use the Emergency Pastoral Care number (below) to let us know about such needs.  Do not assume we already know -- we would rather receive several messages about a pastoral need than to miss one altogether!
● Blake or I usually call to pray with persons by phone the night before scheduled surgeries if we have been made aware of those.
● On nights and weekends (whenever the office is closed), one of us is always available via our NEW Pastor On Call”/Emergency Pastoral Care System (888-456-1203). Even though one of us is “on-call” one month and the other is “on-call” the next month, all information is shared between us confidentially.
● Both of us are available for Basic Pastoral Counseling to all who desire spiritual direction, mentoring, support, prayer, and general guidance.  All discussions are kept strictly confidential.  While we can at times accommodate “drop ins,” it is usually best to make an appointment with us through the church office (  If it is determined after an initial session that either ongoing or specialized care is needed, be aware that we will usually refer persons to faith-based specialists who we trust and know, as pastors are not equipped to be long-term individual counselors.
● In addition, I am available to serve Holy Communion to our Homebound or other members when requested, and to perform Weddings and Baptisms after meeting for wedding or baptism counseling.  Blake will also be available for these services after his commissioning in June.  Again, contact the office or pastors directly for any of these. Please note: Our wedding policies state that the use of an outside pastor for a wedding in our church (i.e., besides the two of us) requires the approval of the Senior Pastor.
● Our Community Care Fund provides church members and others with short-term assistance and resources as available.  Blake and I are able to access this fund in conversation with Rick Free and our Community Care Team leaders for emergency pastoral care needs.

As you can see, there are many services that we as your pastoral staff provide in the area of pastoral care.  However, we need YOUR assistance: If you have or learn about pastoral needs within our church fellowship (such as upcoming hospitalizations, births, deaths, or other crises), please inform the church office as soon as possible (706-884-4635) so that we may appropriately follow up.  After office hours or on weekends, please call our new Emergency Pastoral Care system (888-456-1203).   Your help and consideration is much appreciated!  Remember that God loves you and both Blake and I do, too!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Who Are You? and Who Are We?

“Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.” (Isaiah 43:4)

Who are you?  It’s an important question in a world of over 6 billion people, each struggling to discover our own unique identity and self-worth.  And if we don’t know who we are, then for good or bad, the world we live in will tell us.

That’s why it’s so important for us to be clear about our own identity as children of God -- each special, each unique and valuable to Him.  In Luke 12:6-7 Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Mother Teresa put it this way: “In our efforts to listen to God's words to us, we often neglect what might be called his ‘first word’ to us.  This is the gift of ourselves to ourselves:  our existence, our nature, our personal history, our uniqueness, our identity.  All that we have, and indeed, our very existence, is one of the unique and never‑to‑be‑repeated ways God has chosen to express himself in space and time.  Each of us, because we are made in God's image and likeness, is yet another promise that he has made to the universe that he will continue to love it and care for it.” 
                                     [--Mother Teresa, Leadership,magazine Vol. 10, No. 4]

Who are you?  You are a child of God... precious, honored, and loved in His eyes.  Never forget that you have a great identity as a member of God’s family! Who are you?  You are a child of God... precious, honored, and loved in His eyes.  Never forget that you have a great identity as a member of God’s family!  

And related to that thought, I pray that you will join me beginning February 14 as Blake and I begin a new series series based on the stories of Abraham exploring who we are (our identity) as God’s people here at LaGrange First UMC. And always remember, God loves you and I do, too!