Caring Voices

December 28, 2021

Preston Hollow is blessed with a membership that represents many facets of God’s family. We are a community of faith that lives all across the Metroplex and beyond. While the vast majority of us hail from the United States, our native lands span the globe. We are multi-generational, with myriad interests, occupations and aspirations. Some of us were born and raised at PHPC, and our family histories are closely connected to the formation and growth of our church. Others of us are newcomers who are the beneficiaries of those who have gone before us.

            Even as we are diverse in these ways, we also hold in common a belief in the power and love of God. Maybe not every single one of us, but the vast majority have a desire to belong and to be known. These are basic human needs that can be fulfilled in a place such as Preston Hollow.

            Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with some of the folks who are a part of the PHPC care ministry and who work to know our people. They coordinate, organize and visit members of our community in homes and facilities and hospitals and at church.

Parish Associate, Bob Poteet, has felt called to pastoral care ministry for more than 52 years. “I first experienced being the recipient of intentional caring ministry toward the end of my first year in seminary,” Bob said. “My fiancé died just 2 months before we were to have been married from a three-month brain cancer. My home church pastor with whom I had worked for six years as church organist and his wife drove from Dallas to Austin and knocked on the door of my seminary dorm room, totally unexpected, just prior to her funeral.”

Bob shared that he received the outpouring of care from professors and fellow students. “I discovered how much authentic, caring ministry means and that it is a powerful conduit of God’s grace, love and peace. Consequently, pastoral ministry has always been foundational to my ministry.”

            John Roper joined our staff as Parish Associate after retiring from 44 years of serving five churches. John said, “Not since my first call to a congregation or 75 members have I had time to really visit members. I have missed those days.”

            In addition to Bob and John and our pastoral staff, we are fortunate to have a team of church members who visit those in long term care facilities. Several years ago, Sandy Dehn was recruited to communicate with the team to coordinate their visits and report back to the care office about all the visits made each month.

Sandy finds meaning in reading the notes of visits made by volunteers and the wonderful stories about the residents’ lives. She is especially gratified “that I can help pastors and staff get information about some of the ‘home centered’ residents.”

“Stories” are a common theme among those who serve in this way. Creating opportunities for people to share their stories is a key part of being in community with one another. So it is especially important to those who can no longer be present in church amidst others.

Getting to know so many ‘saints,” largely our more “senior” members, has been especially meaningful to Bob. “They have stories to share of God’s presence and activity in their lives,” Bob said. “I love hearing these stories and providing opportunities for so many to focus and share these stories. And I love hearing their life-stories and getting to know these dear folks and sharing God’s love in relationship.”

Echoing the importance of “stories,” John said, “I love getting to listen to people’s stories, hear their concerns and reassure them of God’s promises.”

Making visits to visit church members provides the visitors opportunities to witness, first-hand, the goodness of people, their commitment to the church and its members and the kind, caring support that exists.

“I am amazed to see so many wonderful caregivers, wives, husbands, and children who offer support to loved ones,” john observed. “I have been pleased to discover that many church members volunteer to reach out to those in need of care.”

Bob added, “I have learned and been impressed with how important it is for all of God’s ‘family’ to be invested in the ministry and service of the church—its worship, study, service and fellowship. And I have learned how much many of these seniors miss being able to attend and participate fully in the life of the congregation for it is in these various relationships that one grows and is challenged to grow in faith and understanding.”

There are always opportunities to visit members and friends of the church. If this is something you would consider, I’d love to talk with you about how you can participate: mbrainerd@phpc.org or 214.368.6348.

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