By Peggy Eastman, Poet-in-Residence
The All Saints Visiting Ministry is dedicated to helping all parishioners know how much they are loved and valued by bringing them the hope of Christ. Volunteers from our parish provide meals for those in need and visit those who are sick, homebound, injured, elderly, or in assisted living or retirement homes. They also reach out by telephone, and with letters and lovely cards (designed by parishioner Sandra McFarland) to those in need or who are grieving. At Christmas, volunteers take poinsettias to some parishioners.
The Visiting Ministry is led by Elizabeth Stuckle, former Vestry member and a public relations and communications professional. Elizabeth keeps a running list – updated frequently – of parishioners in need. With the assistance of the clergy, especially Associate Rector BJ Buracker, she personally spends many hours staying in touch with parishioners. The Ministry team meets regularly to discuss parish needs and how to help.
Elizabeth also provides education to the volunteers about issues related to their visits. For example, at a meeting during December, we discussed ways of helping the elderly and shut-ins during the Christmas holidays. Elizabeth stressed that while aging can bring wisdom, life’s inevitable losses and decreases in energy and independence can also bring loneliness and sorrow, a sense of time passing, and unwelcome change. Caring volunteers can help to ease these feelings and let people know how much they are loved. Reading Scripture and praying together often bring comfort to a person for whom the holidays are much less than merry.
The Visiting Ministry is all about the value of relationships; ask any member of the team and he or she will tell you that those who are visited give back just as much – if not more – than those who come to visit them. Everyone has a story, and many of those who are visited have fascinating stories to tell about their backgrounds and their interests. Many of our volunteers have developed precious long-term friendships with those they visit.
Here is a sampling of what the Ministry means to some of our volunteers.
“The Visiting Ministry team members seek to follow Jesus’ example and directive to care for others in need through service and prayer. It is through our reaching our hands and hearts out to others in need that we are truly extending Jesus’ hands and hearts to them.” (Elizabeth Stuckle)
“Visiting Ministry to me is a manifestation of our church as a family and as the Body of Christ. When one of us is sick, injured or homebound it absolutely helps to extend our heartfelt care and Christian love. It warms both hearts of the visitor and the visited and extends our church more fully into our lives.” (Mark Pape)
“I usually read one of my devotional poems at the beginning of our meetings. I choose these poems specifically to include guidance from the Lord and prayer in our meeting conversations, since we are the Lord’s hands and hearts on earth. I am very conscious that each of the people we serve is a beloved child of God.” (Peggy Eastman)
“Visiting Ministry gives you the joyous opportunity to enjoy the gift of interaction with those who need your fellowship as much as you need their camaraderie.” (Adol Owen-Williams)
“Our church does so much to reach out to others; the Visiting Ministry gives us an opportunity to reach into our own congregation. We are able to share God’s word, bring a smile and cheer to brighten a day.” (Laurie Mical)
“Visiting Ministry gives peace-of-mind to both me and the person I’m visiting. I am inspired by Jesus to help others and be helped back at the same time.” (Brad Record)
“Visiting Ministry has been an enormous blessing to me … I have gotten to know some lonely people and gotten to know first-hand what it’s like to be ‘Jesus with skin on!’ If I can show God’s love by calling, visiting or sending a card to someone who needs encouragement, a kind word, and make them feel special (because they are!) it is a true privilege.” (Lori Shore)
“Visiting Ministry allows me to help those in need. I would rather be the giver than the receiver, as long as I can assume that role. When I was active at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad I helped people at all hours of the day. This is a continuation of that role.” (Tom Nicholson)
We are actively seeking new volunteers for this important church ministry. If you feel called to serve in this way, contact Associate Rector BJ Buracker at firstname.lastname@example.org or Elizabeth Stuckle at email@example.com.