EFAC Australia

Pastoral care by everyone for everyone. Jill McGilvray shows the way.

God’s Love in Action:  Pastoral Care for Everyone
Jill McGilvray
Acorn Press 2009
ISBN 9780908284849

‘A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13:34). Caring for others is not an optional extra. Jill McGilvray’s booklet God’s Love in Action is a relevant and valuable resource. It is the culmination of a pastoral journey undertaken by McGilvray and the people of St Matthew’s Anglican Church, West Pennant Hills, Sydney.
It has been written for use by individuals who want to develop their skills in caring for others within the church context, but also by small groups or as part of a weekly training course over four weeks or as a seminar.
In section one McGilvray looks at the concept of God as our shepherd and people appointed by God, as shepherds of one another. She also reflects on the ‘one another’ verses in the New Testament as a hallmark of Christian community as well as on the ‘God of all comfort’ from 2 Corinthians 1 and 7. Personal bible studies and reflections are included and her suggestions on ways to practically show love are especially worthwhile.

McGilvray then describes the model of care used at St Matthew’s. People who are gifted in pastoral skills are trained and then supported in caring for one, two or three people. The model builds on one developed by Lyn Sarah, who was the Pastoral Worker at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Adelaide (who wrote on this in Essentials in 2006). Sarah called her model PEACE pastoral care:

Praying with and for one another.

Encouraging one another.

Being Available and keeping in touch with one another.

Comforting and caring for one another in the tough times.

Being a Christian Example for one another.

McGilvray has built on this model, providing helpful information on setting up a pastoral care system, training material, information on the ‘art’ of matching lay pastors with those in need and on how to avoid some common pitfalls. There are also sections on identifying spiritual gifts that help the carer to discover what kind of caring is right for them, caring for the carer, and how to top up your personal resources for this demanding ministry. That last section could have been developed further as it is so vital for the longevity of care giving.
McGilvray also has a useful section on the principles of caring in particular situations such as grief, dementia, chronic illness, depression and relationship breakdown.
Having used Lyn Sarah’s model of pastoral care in our church for the past five years I was very interested to examine this book for further ideas. Although the content was largely familiar to me, I greatly appreciated McGilvray’s concise approach, her practical insights and her micro and macro perspective. This model could be easily adapted to most church situations. Personally, my challenge is to further develop, for my church of nearly 500 people, the multi-layered system of pastoral care, recruitment and training described.
Jill McGilvray’s booklet God’s Love in Action offers itself to the church as an important resource; to all who choose to obey Christ’s commandment to love one another as he has loved us. Highly commended as a practical tool to help us to show God’s love in action in and through our churches.

Beverley Churchward is married to Graeme. They have three adult children and a Golden Retriever who eats vegetables out of the garden patch. Bev is the lay pastoral worker at St Alfred’s Blackburn North, Melbourne. They share a passion for running the Marriage Course at church and their regular romantic date nights.