women sitting at a table look towards the front of the room

Kate Maxwell from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, and Helen Hansen from St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis help to lead pastoral care efforts at their respective faith communities.

While both women were accustomed to more formal and traditional models of providing pastoral care, the closer they looked, the more they discovered that people in their faith communities who had pastoral care needs were finding care and support without the intervention of the front office or the formal pastoral care team.

The people of the church were ‘ministering from the pews.’ They were providing support, listening to and showing up for each other in the most difficult situations of life. And they needed to start getting support, training and spiritual grounding to continue to put their gifts into practice.

In looking for a formation model, both Kate and Helen have turned to Community of Hope International (COHI) as a framework of pastoral care that encourages care in context.  As Helen put it ‘we’re not preparing for a role.  We’re preparing for a way of being in Christian community.’

COHI offers resources and the cost is fairly low compared with other models.  Training happens in small cohorts over several weeks, with flexibility to make the training work for the people who need it. Each group recruits trainers to present on each training module.  Says Kate,  “St. John’s used people from our own faith community when possible, and reached out to ECMN to collaborate with others to find connections as well.”

COHI is an invitation to take a deep dive to explore your own spiritual growth in community – learning more about how you want to respond to God’s call, with the end goal of becoming more fully present to family, friends and fellow members of your faith community.

This has revolutionized the lives of these faith communities. They have now unleashed cohorts of individuals, trained to practice the art of listening, who are able to provide pastoral presences to one another in context.  Whether that’s in youth ministry, providing hospitality, in their family systems or at their work.

As Kate says “COHI gives ordinary people an opportunity to extend this ministry in their lives. In community, between friends and in families.  To go beyond the church walls in a way that’s personal, relational and one on one.”  People are identifying and forming their gifts in order to meet the needs of the world.

Click here to learn more about Community of Hope International.