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From time to time the pastoral team will update you on relevant pastoral matters relating to our Christian lives.
We begin with ‘Last Prayers’ – traditionally known as ‘Last Rites’.
Death, especially our own, is a sensitive topic. Following mention of a parishioner recently receiving ‘Last Prayers’ it has become clear to the team that not all are aware special prayers (Ministry at the Time of Death – Common Worship: Pastoral Services) are always possible, whether in hospital, hospice or at home, either alone with a minister or with family members and friends present. In the Anglican tradition they are said by an ordained member of clergy from your own parish or by the hospital/hospice chaplain. They may include an act of penitence/reconciliation/absolution, laying on of hands, anointing with holy oil, Holy Communion, and/or commendation to Almighty God and blessing.
It is the most beautiful, reassuring and comforting act of worship and may be requested either by the person or by a family member or friend. When they are ordained, clergy vow to care for the dying - this is indeed a very special way to serve you.
We started this section on ‘final prayers’. On the same theme, a number of people decide they would like to be involved with organising their own funeral. It’s true that for a great deal of people, they do not want to think about death and dying at all, however sometimes families left behind struggle with music choices, how people should dress for the occasion, amongst other things. Once again it is not a subject people want to think about, let alone talk about. At St Mary Oatlands we have discussed a number of funeral services with individuals and their families and it can be such a relief for the loved ones who feel they now have what their relative wants at the service.
This extract is taken from reports (by Ros Binns and Muriel Agbaje) to the recent Annual Parochial Church Meeting:
This year will mark 40 years of training for Pastoral Assistants in the Diocese of Guildford - a role which has undoubtedly helped to transform Christian witness and service in our communities. This anniversary will be celebrated in Guildford Cathedral on 8th July. Pastoral Assistants are people from all walks of life who are trained to walk alongside others and keep them company when people are in need. As Christians with a certain amount of life experience, a mature faith, and good listening skills, Pastoral Assistants are trained by the diocese over a year and authorised in their ministry by the bishop.
Each year pastoral assistants from across the diocese come together for an annual training day, which in 2014 was entitled ‘Pressure Points for Christians living and working in Guildford Diocese’. We looked at possible areas of pressure in ministry and considered them both practically and theologically. We also have a deanery training evening, which was a talk by Social Services making us aware of what services they provide to the community, which will help us direct people with specific needs to the appropriate help.
St Mary has four PAs: Muriel Agbaje, Rosalind Binns, Kim Groom and Francie Mcllwraith. In addition, two new Pastoral Visitors have joined the team this year - Barbara Martin and Doreen Clements. They have started visiting members of St Mary’s congregation in Sunrise and are greatly appreciated.
We severally support families and children in First Steppers, Sunday Juniors, Family Praise and ALIVE at 10 and at Baptism services. Some of us also take part in Open the Book assembly once a month at Cleves school.
We conduct communion services in residential homes and occasionally on Thursdays in the chapel using the Reserved Sacrament. We take communion to the housebound and visit those in hospital or ill at home and support those who are bereaved (all these increased significantly in 2014). Francie runs a meditation group at Sutton Lodge and a caring and Sharing Group at St Mary. On a rota we conduct a service of worship for dementia residents at Sunrise. We are members of the PCC and are sidesmen, communion assistants, servers, readers, and intercessors.
Although this list of activities is extensive, members of the Pastoral Team at St Mary Oatlands feel privileged to support our diocese and community in this ministry. Training at Foundation Level starts in September (Mondays & Fridays).
If this is something you would like to talk about please do not hesitate to talk to one of the Pastoral Assistants.