Serving those in later life

Rural Ministries has been supporting a group of 14 parish churches in Somerset, to help them develop lay ministries. Several of these new roles focus on serving people who are in later life in the churches and communities.

On 9th June 2019, Bishop Ruth came to one of these churches for a commissioning service of some new lay ministries raised as a result of this initiative. Judith Dufour was commissioned by Bishop Ruth as a Pastoral Chaplain.

Judith offers pastoral care to the church community from St John’s Church, Wellington, wherever they may be – at home, in hospital or in care.

Judith explains:

I was born, brought up and have lived in Wellington all my life.  I have been a member of St John’s, from Baptism to Confirmation and have held a variety of roles.  I was pastoral co-ordinator for many years, but just over a year ago I sensed a call of God to become a chaplain.  It became clear that God was calling me to deepen my commitment.  The new learning community, supported by Rural Ministries, enabled me to explore my vocation and has helped me through my chaplaincy training.

I believe God is blessing this ministry, enabling me to walk alongside and support through prayer, visiting, listening and being available to those who have a need.  I am involved with home communions and the prayer healing team.  St John’s church has a lot of elderly people in the congregation.   My role is to make sure none are forgotten, and all are included.  This is an evolving ministry and I work alongside others to explore ways of ensuring those who are lonely and whose failing health leaves them vulnerable, are identified and cared for.

One exciting development recently is an invitation for me to help support the new primary school pupil chaplaincy programme that started this September. Eight pupil chaplains from St John’s Primary school have been commissioned and they will serve their local community in the coming year through supporting the Archie project – a local project for elderly people with dementia. It is particularly special for me, as this is the school I attended as a child. It is lovely to be able to make links across the generations.

This is the prayer Judith wrote for her commissioning:

Dear God, we believe that you created and that you sustain the universe.  Through your loving care, we believe that everyone is your beloved child, valued, whoever they are, wherever they are, whether they know it or not. So teach us that it is not a waste to care, not a waste to love.  Teach us to give time to the needs of those we love. Amen.

Judith Dufour
St John’s, Wellington

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