The 'In Touch' scheme

Pastoral CarePastoral Care at Muswell Hill Methodist Church, North London

The 'In Touch' scheme

In the autumn of 1998 we introduced a new system of pastoral care at Muswell Hill Methodist Church. Prior to that date the church operated the traditional system of pastoral visitors. In practice this meant a small group of visitors (12) with long lists of people to visit. However, patterns of life have changed so many people are not home during the day to be visited or to visit.

Questionnaires were sent out to everyone in the church, inviting them either to become a 'Pastoral Link' and/or to request pastoral care for themselves. People were asked how they would like to be kept in touch with the church and were offered options - being contacted by phone, letter, e-mail, birthday card etc, a home visit, or chatting after church.

There was a very encouraging response and between fifty and sixty people became Pastoral Links, most of whom are 'In Touch' with up to three people. The Pastoral Links are supported by training and a pastoral team, who meet regularly.

The pastoral team

The pastoral team consists of the minister, the pastoral secretary/coordinator, the First Steps secretary, and five team leaders. Each of the team leaders is responsible for about twelve Pastoral Links and is the first port of call for any concerns, which can then be taken to the pastoral secretary or minister if appropriate.

Training

Training has played an important role in the development of the 'In Touch' scheme and is well received (often with 40+ attendance). For us the most popular time for such training sessions is Saturday morning, 10.00 till 12.00.

Initially, these sessions were held quarterly but for the future, we envisage running them twice a year. On occasion, we have opened the sessions to other people in the church who are interested. Themes covered in training have included an Introduction to the scheme; confidentiality; listening skills; Safeguarding and Healing.

Maintenance of the scheme

The Pastoral Team meets regularly to review how the scheme is operating, allocate new people to Pastoral Links, arrange training sessions and discuss any matters of concern. A leaflet in the church's welcome pack tells people about the scheme and invites them to join it. Periodically we find other ways to remind people of the scheme, at worship, in the church newsletter, etc.

Terminology

The titles 'In Touch Scheme' and 'Pastoral Links' came out of people's suggestions in response to the initial questionnaire.

For any further information please contact Liz Gamble, 37 Twyford Avenue, London N2 9NU
Tel: 020 8883 3027. E-mail: lizgamble@btinternet.com

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