/ Wednesday, May 20, 2020
We would like to thank everyone who has participated on our first three surveys. These surveys have explored online worship, online giving, and online pastoral care. If you have not participated in these surveys, you are welcome to do so at your convenience. They are all available on our website: www.outreach.ca
In our third survey we asked about pastoral care. Pastoral care is one of the dimensions of the church that is hard to provide virtually. We are all hearing stories or experiencing creativity as people find ways of having weddings and memorial services online, but as our isolation and personal distancing continues, how does that affect the church’s ability to provide pastoral care for their church members.
We asked leaders, how would you describe your pastoral/congregational care over the past six weeks. This is how they responded.
Sixty-six congregations from seven provinces responded to our survey and indicated that while personal contact has been limited, churches have been using the phone and other virtual tools to stay connected with their parishioners.
We asked what tools pastors have been using to provide pastoral care and learned that phone calls, E-mail and text messages have been replacing face to face care.
We also asked church leaders if the need for pastoral care has gone up during the COVID-19 crisis, stayed the same, or declined. As we expected, 62.1% of the churches indicated that the need for pastoral care has gone up in their church and 30.3% said that it had stayed the same. Only 7.8% of the churches in our survey sample indicated that the need for pastoral care had gone down.
The COVID-19 Virus has had a significant impact on our nation and the world. We asked if anyone in your congregation has been diagnosed infected by the COVID-19 Virus?
Overall we have seen that there has been an increase in the need for pastoral care in our churches. Most churches have been seeking to meet those needs via phone, text message and e-mail. It would be interested to ask our members and parishioners how they feel about the level of pastoral care they are receiving during this crisis. As the restrictions on public gathering continue in Canada. People are growing frustrated and discouraged as they continue to be separated from family, friends, and co-workers.
We have family members on our team who have had wedding and funeral plans affected by the COVID-19 lock-downs and we have observed how it causes stress and reduces our ability to support one another in times of grief and loss. We applaud the churches who continue to reach out to their congregations using creativity and innovation. Pastoral care and personal connection matters a lot in times like this.