Pastoral care

Pastoral Care can help “restore our soul” (Psalm 23) in times of need so that we may continue on life’s journey, following Jesus our Good Shepherd. This care is provided in many ways by all Christians for each other, neighbor serving neighbor. At times, you might seek specific care from the pastor.

When to call the pastor:
• When someone is near death or has died.
• When someone is ill or hospitalized.
• When someone is distressed and needs pastoral care.
• When someone is in need of prayer.
• When someone wants to discuss spiritual or theological matters.
• When someone has reason to celebrate or to share a thanksgiving (birth, engagement, etc.).
• When you would like to talk or pray about a difficult decision.
• When someone just wants to talk to a clergy person.

During regular office hours, the pastor can be contacted through the office at (724) 588-8870. In times of pastoral crisis or emergency call (814) 881-8959 at any hour of the day or night, seven days a week. Such calls are a top priority for the pastor, who will respond as quickly as possible. Please do not assume that the pastor is “too busy” for such calls, or that they will be notified in some other way.

Hospital Visits
The pastor regularly visits those who are hospitalized. In the case of an extended hospital stay, the pastor or a Eucharistic minister will bring communion. Since hospitals do not notify us when members are admitted, it is important to inform the church directly so that a visit can be planned.

Prayer List
A prayer list is published in the Sunday liturgy bulletin insert. Only names of people who have approved that their names be publicly listed can be placed on the list. Please let the church office know if you wish to have a name added to the list. It will remain on the list for four weeks, unless you specifically ask that it remain on the list for a longer period. You are also welcome to ask the pastor to pray about matters that you prefer remain private and confidential.

Home Visits and Communion
When illness or other circumstances leave people homebound and unable to attend worship, the pastor and trained Lay Eucharistic Ministers are glad to bring Holy Communion from the Sunday worship service immediately after worship or other times. Please contact the office to arrange for this ministry.

God’s will is for wholeness in our living and dying. Healing comes in many forms and in many ways, from the medical professions to prayer. Pastors can provide the rite of Laying on of Hands and Anointing. Such spiritual healing can have an impact on the body, mind, and emotions, bringing comfort to those in need of it and to those who care for them. This form of healing can be received at many points throughout life and at the time of death. The pastor offers this ministry upon request.

House Blessings
A House Blessing may be as simple as a general blessing for a new residence, or it may include moving from room to room to offer appropriate blessings for each space. Guests may be invited, refreshments provided and the Holy Eucharist celebrated in the home. Contact the pastor to plan this joyful service. (While house blessings can occur at any time, the Epiphany season is an especially appropriate time to bless a home, remembering the gifts brought to the infant Savior.)

Private Confession
While a congregational Confession and Absolution is a regular part of most principal liturgies in the Lutheran church, there are times when someone wishes to make a private confession in the presence of a pastor, seeking counsel and absolution. In our tradition, such a confession is a pastoral matter focused on those things which are troubling the conscience. Some will seek this ministry for urgent need, others as a matter of spiritual practice. In all cases, the confidentiality of confession is an absolute for the pastor.

Confidentiality in Pastoral Conversation
Confidentiality is practiced in pastoral conversations, though the pastor may seek the counsel of colleagues or supervisors in order to provide better care. In Pennsylvania, clergy are mandated reporters in matters of suspected abuse. However, the confidentiality of private confession is absolute.