Exploring pastoral care

“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2
I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:36

The Exploring Pastoral Care course provides a basic practical pastoral care course for deaneries, parishes and benefices. It trains people for visiting, listening and supporting people in the church and community.

Who is Exploring Pastoral Care for?

If you are:

  • a prayerful person of faith
  • good at listening
  • easy to talk to
  • good at not judging others
  • compassionate
  • confidential

then this might be the course for you. The course does not commit you to offering pastoral care but it does include a practical element in which you can try compassionate listening to others in a safe environment. You will also need to be willing to let others listen to you.

Pastoral care is a ministry on behalf of the church, so you will operate under the guidance of the incumbent. You will need to be willing  to care for all members of the community rather than just those who might form part of your own networks.

What will I learn?

The Exploring Pastoral Care course consists of eight sessions. It starts with six core sessions, followed by 2 specific sessions chosen by the leaders as relevant to the group.

  • The Foundations of Christian Pastoral Care
  • Called to care. Who am I and what do I bring to pastoral care?
  • Essential Listening Skills
  • Further Listening Skills and Self-Awareness
  • Pastoral care across the life stages
  • Visiting – why and when?

Each session is two and a half hours long and your deanery tutors will decide on sessional arrangements. Those who complete all eight sessions get a Certificate of Completion.

The two specific sessions are chosen by the tutors and might cover subjects like:

  • Bereavement
  • Visiting the sick
  • Mental wellbeing
  • The elderly and dementia care
  • Hospital visiting
  • Supporting schools (Delivered by the Go Team)
  • Prayer and healing ministry
  • Spiritual care before and after death (Delivered by the Spiritual care co-ordinator from st Margaret’s Hospice Somerset)

How does Exploring Pastoral Care work?

The course is provided by the diocesan office and run by deaneries. It may be lead by clergy or Readers with the assistance of experienced Lay Pastoral Assistants. If you are interested in the course, talk with your clergy or Readers to see if course can be delivered in your deanery.

Each student receives course material and there is some preparation work. You will need up to an hour or two per week.

You will need the permission of your incumbent or minister in charge to attend this course.

The course provides part of the training for Lay Pastoral Assistants but is open to all. Parishes are also welcome to use individual sessions from the course, such as ‘Listening Skills’ as stand-alone sessions. If you feel called to become a Lay Pastoral Assistant after the course, there is a further session to be held with your minister, an assessment and appropriate safeguarding .

Exploring Pastoral Care replaces the Lay Pastoral Assistants Course. The name has been changed to allow more people to benefit from the course without necessarily going on to become commended Lay Pastoral Assistants. It is available for deaneries upon request to the Diocesan Office.

Who to contact

Charmain Gilmour, Ministry Training Team Administrator


Becoming a Lay Pastoral Assistant Leaflet

Exploring Pastoral Care Leaflet

Participants Pre-Course Booklet

Exploring Pastoral Care Bibliography

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