Local pastors - Loughborough
Loughborough Methodist Circuit continues to use a Local Pastor scheme which began in 2010. It was a means of support during a minister's sabbatical to provide continuity of care. Since then seven volunteers have taken on the role.
In 2017 there are four local pastors working to support the smaller churches. They are all members of larger churches and are local preachers in the circuit, though this is not a prerequisite.
Churches and pastors are matched according to needs and skills. A church requesting a pastor has to have a clear understanding of their reasons for such a request and how they will work together rather than expect the pastor to do everything. Similarly pastors need to be self-aware, recognise where their gifts lie and be prepared to say 'no' rather than find themselves in difficulty.
Our local pastors are voluntary, receiving expenses and have a contract with the circuit. Each contract has been worked out with the individual church and they undertake a variety of tasks according to the needs of the church including pastoral visiting, school assemblies, leading small groups, chairing planning meetings, involvement with funerals, and making links between the local church and groups that use it. They are present at church councils and in some cases have begun to have a real presence in the community, representing the Methodist Church.
A recent review of the scheme saw the churches come together to look at the advantages of having a local pastor. Those churches that had a pastor recognised the benefits, appreciating the support and guidance they received. Following the review one local pastor has moved churches in order to offer support elsewhere and another church has been brought into the scheme.
The pastors' appointments are for three years and are reviewed annually. They meet with the circuit ministers monthly for support, encouragement and reflection.