“I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.”
What are Lay Pastoral Assistants?
Lay Pastoral Assistants (LPAs) play an important part in their communities by visiting and caring for those in need. All Christians (we hope) show that care for others informally, but Lay Pastoral Assistants have a specific ministry to do so on behalf of the Church. They are identified, trained and commended to share in the pastoral ministry of the Church. An LPA role can vary widely, but they can be found working alongside the elderly, the housebound, children, the recently bereaved, the newly baptised and the sick. They offer a listening ear and a friendly face to many.
Lay Pastoral Assistants fulfil this role under the guidance of their incumbent or minister.
The unique gifts and experiences of an individual shape and identify how their role will work. Training to become a Lay Pastoral Assistant is a way of affirming and endorsing a person’s gifts in the work they are already doing to live and tell the story of Jesus.
LPAs are pastoral by nature and enjoy thinking creatively about the different ways in which they can serve and build relationships with people in their community. They make a difference to people’s lives by ensuring they are not lonely or isolated in difficult times. They do this as a practical sign of God’s love for everyone.
“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to a problem, but we all know that the vicar can’t provide pastoral care to everybody and so it’s right that we take people with those pastoral gifts and release them into a ministry where they can provide that on-going care in a way that vicars can’t.”
Revd Jonathan Philpott
Priest In Charge in the Benefice of Berrow and Brean
Listen to Jonathan’s talk: An Introduction to LPA Ministry
Meet a Lay Pastoral Assistant
About 15 years ago, we set up a small group to support those in need for whatever reason in our community. It was really a pastoral care group but I don’t think we called it that!
I had always felt that in my retirement I wanted to deepen my faith and understanding of God and the Bible. So when I retired a few years ago, extending my role in the pastoral care group was a way of then using that deepened faith.
After mentioning the idea of some training to my incumbent, I did the LPA course. To do the training was very helpful: it gave me more confidence and validated my role, but more importantly it gave me the confidence to feel that I was able to serve my community and to serve God through the work I was doing.
Liz from Taunton Deanery
Julia Gaunt talks about her LPA ministry on this YouTube video.