Supporting our parish clergy and lay leaders via the 4 p’s

Reflections

“The PMC Team reached out to parish clergy across our three Regions over the last week to ask what parishioners can do to support them and other parish leaders as they nurture and care for us during this difficult time. Their responses can be summed up simply via 4 p’s – prayer, Parish Direct, participation, and practical assistance,” says Dr Stephen Harrison, Executive Director of Parishes and other Mission Agencies Commission (PMC)

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Supporting our parish clergy and lay leaders via the 4 p's

Over the last week, I have been profoundly moved by the concern parish clergy have expressed for the physical health, emotional wellbeing and spiritual needs of their communities. I have also been inspired by our priests’ willingness to embrace non-gathered approaches to worship and ministry in order to help protect our congregation members, many of who are in high-risk groups due to age or chronic health conditions, or both. The pastoral concern expressed by our clergy has prompted the writing of this reflection, and the development of four key ways, the 4 p’s, parishioners can support their clergy – these being praying for our clergy; paying via Parish Direct; participating in online and other non-gathered ministry activities; and, practically assisting parish clergy with tasks.

The Rev’d Adam Lowe from St Bart’s, Toowoomba is one of many parish priests across the ACSQ who have been implementing alternative approaches to gathered worship to help keep our parishioners connected and our communities safe

We are currently entering into unchartered territory and a period of uncertainty – for both our Church and the broader community. Parish clergy have their work cut out for them as they implement alternative approaches to worship; increasingly engage with their congregations via email, phone and social media; pastorally care for vulnerable, sick and anxious parishioners; manage teams of staff and volunteers; and, care for broader community members who reach out in their time of need.

The depth of our clergy’s vocations is clear in the determination they have to step up and embrace this challenge. Historically, when global or local communities have been in crisis, such as in times of war, drought or natural disasters, both clergy and lay people have answered this missional call by caring for and protecting others. We all want to see our clergy, along with their families, empowered, sustained, encouraged and assisted, as they fulfill their unique vocational call during the months ahead.

Many others, including churchwardens, other parish leaders and some paid employees, are also vital in maintaining the life of our communities and likewise need our support. For our communities to survive and thrive through this time we need to be constant in our support for one another and, as we are able, to maintain the life of our communities.

St Mary’s, Goondiwindi parishioner Alicia Stewart (R) shows The Rev’d Kay Hart (L) an empty paddock that should be waist-high with wheat: The Rev’d Kay has been actively supporting community members during the drought

One of the key ways that we can carry out this mission is to show care and compassion for our clergy, as they minister to us and the broader community. The PMC Team reached out to parish clergy across our three Regions over the last week to ask what parishioners can do to support them as they nurture and care for us during this difficult time. Their responses can be summed up simply via 4 p’s – prayer, Parish Direct, participation, and practical assistance. More specifically, our parish clergy and other parish leaders need us to:

In God’s strength and grace, we can collectively navigate the challenges ahead by supporting parish clergy and other parish leaders and the communities they serve. In the future, let’s look back and be proud of the way we stepped up as a Church in solidarity with our leaders and each other.

*If you have any questions regarding Parish Direct, please email askus@anfin.com.au or call (07) 3835 2355.

Parish clergy across our three Regions need our support in this challenging time, as they support and care for us and our communities: (L-R) The Rev’d Canon Gary Harch from The Parish of Kangaroo Point; The Rev’d Steve McMahon from The Parish of Ipswich; The Rev’d Avriel Green from The Parish of Caboolture; The Rev’d Charlie Lacey from The Parish of Springfield; The Rev’d Stewart Perry from The Parish of Robina; The Rev’d Adam Lowe from The Parish of St Bart’s, Toowoomba; and, Executive Director of PMC Stephen Harrison

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