Taking up the pastoral care torch in a pandemic

By Gordon Lambie
Taking up the pastoral care torch in a pandemic
Scott Patton at his home in Huntingville (Photo : Gordon Lambie)

There comes a time, after any new job is created, for a passing of the torch. The individual or individuals who worked to get the ball rolling step aside so that others can come in to carry on the work and adapt it to new needs and new situations.

As Scott Patton is learning, though, that process is a little more complicated when the job in question involves working with seniors and there is a global pandemic.

In January, Patton took on the role of Pastoral Support Minister in the Richmond area from Wayne Beamer, who held the position since it was created in the fall of 2018. The job was created to focus on outreach to and support for local seniors regardless of their church affiliation and according to Charlotte Griffith, a member of the Richmond United Church who has helped to coordinate the work, Beamer was able to overcome some of the challenges that came alongside the arrival of COVID-19 because of the relationships he had already built in the community.

“It was not so hard with Wayne because he had already started. He had already made all his connections so he could call people and they already knew who he was,” she said, noting that although there were still plenty of hurdles to overcome when it came to pastoral support in the time of Covid, the foundation built up before was a big help. “Scott started in January and everything was closed down,” she added, pointing out that the result is much more of a struggle when it comes to making introductions and getting to know people.

“It’s a little slow getting off the ground,” Patton said, “but any minister coming to a new ministry knows that it takes a while to get cemented and understood as the minister. It takes a while for that relationship to emerge.”
The minister, who was serving a church in Lachine until this past June, shared that the job in the Richmond area is a bit of a pre-retirement project for him, but that it appealed because he has always been drawn to the caring parts of his profession more than the preaching.
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