Organizing a Pastoral Care Team into Neighborhood Care Groups
Our church, River Road Unitarian Church, has been divided into thirty-seven Neighborhood Care Groups of approximately 15-20 families. Each neighborhood has its own coordinator. The neighborhoods provide help in the form of meals, transportation, and other caring needs for those living in close geographic proximity, Anyone needing a ride to church or to a medical appointment or for support after surgery or illness can call their neighborhood coordinator. Neighborhood services are usually short term; transportation or meals over longer periods of time are coordinated by the Pastoral Care Team.
The Pastoral Care Team frequently works with the Neighborhoods along with other people in the church if services are needed over a long period of time. For example we drew on the entire church, including the neighborhood, to provide sixteen hours a week of respite care for four months to a mother of a baby born with esophageal ulcers. Neighborhood coordinators also call the Pastoral Care Team to let them know if someone in the Neighborhood needs help. Social gatherings in the Neighborhood have been left to the discretion of the coordinators.
A neighborhood system works well for larger churches or those covering a wide geographic area.