Pastoral Care

At LVPC we offer many forms of pastoral care both spontaneous and structured. 

Rev Richard Dawson has extensive experience in marriage and pre-marital counselling, in being with those in crisis and in mentoring and supervision. One of his strengths is a desire to develop and encourage, offer practical and spiritual help to those who may sit on the edge of the church for one reason or another. He can also point you in the right direction if you're looking for a supervisor, counsellor or spiritual director.

At Leith Valley we can all be involved on one level or another in building up and growing our community.


1. Christian Friendship:
The most basic and universal of all forms of pastoral or soul care and one that we are all called to is that of extending the hand of friendship and love to one another.  Caring for one another is the basic role of the community and networks of genuine  friendship must be established for a healthy and sustainable community. The overarching command to ‘love one another’ means to take responsibility for one another, to watch over one another in love - a pastoral role.

Martin Luther said:
  “No man is to be alone against Satan; God instituted the church and the ministry of the Word in order that we might join hands and help one another. If the prayer of one does not help, the prayer of the other will.”

PEACE is a helpful acronym that means we can do the following at church, in small groups, prayer groups, ministry groups and anywhere we meet :
·       Praying with and for one another
·       Encouraging one another in our Christian walk – bible reading, personal prayer and caring for others
·       Being Available and keeping in touch with one another
·       Comforting and encouraging one another in the tough times
·       Being a Christian Example for one another                                      (St Alfred’s Anglican Church)

2. Pastoral Ministry :
Pastoral ministry happens every Sunday and throughout the week where there is preaching, teaching, worship, community service, prayer, care etc.. Anything that brings people into contact with God nurtures the growth of their spirits and heals their souls is pastoral ministry. Hence our worship service is central to congregational life for it may be the most significant source of pastoral contact made during the week.

3. Pastoral Care: The reaching out with help, encouragement, or support to another during a time of need. Pastoral care is the gift of Christian love and nurture from one who attempts to mediate the gracious presence of God to another who desires more of God's life and presence. A range of expressions such as visiting the sick, being with the dying, comforting the bereaved, supporting those who are struggling or facing difficulties of any kind, nurturing and protecting the faith of those within the congregation, preaching, teaching, intercessory prayer, pre-marriage counsel and administering the sacraments all fit into this category.
Slightly different to friendship these acts are offered without expectation and might be viewed also as ‘alongsiding’ in Mick Duncan’s terminology.
Pastoral care does not require the same level of time or responsiveness that is typical of pastoral counselling. It is more concerned with helping another to understand their predicament in a theological context and to find the presence of God in their process.

4. Spiritual Direction:
'The jewel in the crown of soul-care relationships' (1) is a form of spiritual friendship. It’s focus is on one’s relationship to God in a context of co-discernment. The director acknowledges the Spirit as the true spiritual director and seeks to help the other discern and submit to the leading of the Spirit.

Spiritual direction is a ‘prayer process in which a person seeking help in cultivating a deeper relationship with God meets another for prayer and conversation that is focused on increasing awareness of God in the midst of life experiences and facilitating surrender to God’s will.’[2] While both spiritual direction and pastoral counselling share a focus on faith development, they differ in their approach. The former seeks to help those with mature faith deepen such faith in the midst of life and the latter seeks to help people reach mature faith. No Christian should be without a spiritual director.

5. Pastoral Counselling:

Christian/pastoral counselling is both a specialized form of pastoral care and a specialized form of counselling.  It is set apart from other pastoral contacts by a means of specific appointments that are held in a consistent and appropriate setting.

It is also distinct from the professional Christian counsellor whose sole task is counselling, in that a pastor who has other ministerial responsibilities mediates the counselling and boundaries are looser because people are seen in various contexts.  Someone coming for pastoral counselling would likely expect the counsellor to represent Christian values, beliefs and commitments and to bring Christian meaning to bear on their problems. 

[1] Benner, David Strategic Pastoral Counselling (Baker Publishing Group: Grand Rapids,2003) 22
[2] Ibid, 94