Yes. Of course. And in so many ways.
Parishes and other church communities care for those who come to them for worship and prayer. Many reach out into the community and offer friendship and support through toddler groups, mid week services, cafes and lunch clubs. Sometimes when I visit places and ask them about the pastoral work they are engaged in, they don't even know they are doing it - "No, there is no pastoral care networks, but we do offer a coffee morning on Wednesday, Bingo on a Thursday and a monthly prayer service for healing." Christian care is part of the DNA of many churches.
Jesus said that we must love others, as we love ourselves. This mandate is so clear and so often heard it is easy to skip over the second part of the sentence which is the key to good care: how we love ourselves. Church communities can only care for others to the extend that they care for themselves. We might know this personally through experiences of burn out or mental health breakdown when the stress of caring for others takes its toil.
I work for the Guild of Health and St Raphael, and we are committed to helping churches become and grow as healthy, healing communities both internally and for the community they seek to serve. On the 20th June, at St Marylebone Parish Church in London, we will bring together a unique mixture of experts to begin to explore this cruicial area of ministry for the church. In this day conference, we seek to explore the theology of what we are doing when we care.
Prof Alison Milbank will begin our day with a theological exploration of the parish, and Dr. David McDonald a consultant psychiatirst and psychotherapist will speak on parish dynamics and the importance of self care. We will also hear from experts who work in commmunity engagement and offer examples of good practice.
Come and join in this crucial conversation, and access first new Guidl resources on this key area.
For more details and booking go to www.gohealth.org.uk