What is God saying to you and to others? What will future ministry and mission look like? What things need to remain the same? What changes do we need to embrace? In 2020 we invited New Zealand Baptists to reflect upon these questions in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic and to share their thoughts on the future. We’re now reproducing these reflections here for all to see and be inspired by!

Working from home meant changes to the way I do pastoral care and it afforded me time to reflect, adapt and learn new skills. 

There were losses, some which exposed my own vulnerability to feelings of being invisible and isolated. The greater loss, however, was for the others—the recipients of my care; the ones living alone after their loved one died isolated from extended family; the one who was unprepared for the sudden decline and death of her partner where the marriage licence obtained in Level 4 was never going to be signed; the one who was fearful and wanted to talk, but could only manage moments of connection over the phone. They longed for more support, face-to-face visits, the touch of a caring hand, and all that we portray through our eyes and our very presence. 

Some wouldn’t have wanted me there, as for them talking over the phone was preferable to talking to a mask and face shield. 

I learned to broaden my definition of being present. How can we still be there on the other end of the phone or via a video call? I learned to lean in, listen deeply, use more perception checks, pray fervently. I learned that I have relied too much on the visible and can still connect deeply when unseen. 

I connected with staff, patients and the bereaved through emails, phone calls and sharing of resources and reflections. These will continue. People tell me they felt supported and appreciated the regular calls. These can continue. The power and comfort of having another pray for and with us can never be underestimated in pastoral care. This can certainly continue. The One who is present 24/7, His care will always continue.

Contributor: Donna Denmead, locum chaplain at Tauranga Hospital with ICHC

Read other reflections on the future of ministry and mission by New Zealand Baptists:
Fiona Beals; Grant Harris; Kate Dunstan-Brown; Chris Chamberlain; Helen Geddes; Jonathan Edmeades; Cliff Thompson; Jamie Li; Dave TimsRichardson Lau; Christine Saywell; Mike Crudge