12.4.3 The pastoral care visit

Every New Apostolic Christian is offered personal pastoral care.

This care is modelled on the example given by Jesus. For example, He often visited Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. From this a special relationship of trust developed between them: "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (John 11: 5). Likewise Jesus' visit to Zacchaeus in Jericho was characterised by His serving and helping love: "And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house'" (Luke 19: 5). This visit resulted in blessing: "And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house'" (Luke 19: 9).

Today we derive the significance and purpose of pastoral care visits from what has been handed down to us about Jesus. All members of the congregation have a Priest who is responsible for their personal pastoral care and also for these visits, during which he is usually supported by a Deacon.

The principal focus in this effort of caring for our brothers and sisters is the endeavour to deepen their love for God and His work, cultivate their life of faith, and enhance their understanding of God's activity. This is primarily done by way of discussions about matters of faith.

Believers receive special care in all circumstances of life in that they are supported by the ministers in their concerns and questions during the pastoral care visit. Thereby the relationship of trust between the minister and the believers is strengthened. The degree to which brothers and sisters accept the advice they are given remains at their discretion. Personal responsibility, which is incumbent upon every New Apostolic Christian, is respected and encouraged. It goes without saying that pastoral care visits are not made to members against their will.

Praying together is an important element in the pastoral care visit. Beyond that, the members benefit from the intercessory support of their minister.

Special care is given to those who are bereaved and grieving. In cases of sickness, which are particularly burdensome, both physically and psychologically, New Apostolic Christians receive special attention through visits either at home or in hospital. The responsible minister visits sick members and shows his sympathy for their condition. He strengthens their faith, provides comfort, and brings their concerns before the Lord in prayer. If possible, he celebrates Holy Communion with them. In the same manner, elderly, sick, and handicapped members who are no longer able to attend divine service are visited regularly.

Believers who cannot be visited, or only visited in limited capacity–for example sailors, soldiers, or inmates–often also receive pastoral care in the form of written correspondence.

Especially in modern society, which is increasingly characterised by loneliness, isolation, and the marginalisation of many people, New Apostolic Christians receive care and support from their ministers in their daily lives.

SUMMARY

New Apostolic Christians are also offered personal pastoral care through visits. (12.4.3)

An important element in the pastoral care visit is praying together. The personal responsibility of the individual is respected and encouraged. (12.4.3)

Pastoral care is provided especially to those who have come into situations of suffering, grief, or need. (12.4.3)

See also