The Community of Hope is made up of individuals who serve as loving and willing vessels to carry God’s care to a broken world. The program began in Houston as a result of one individual’s desire to pass on to others the care and compassion he had received at St.Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. Because Houston Chronicle editor Dan Cobb was so appreciative of the emotional and spiritual support he received during his own illness and the illness and death of his wife, he wanted to offer support to others in similar circumstances. But, as he began to visit hospital patients, he realized that good intentions alone were not sufficient for the task he had set for himself.
In spring 1994 he went to the Pastoral Care office at St. Luke’s and asked if he could be trained as a volunteer lay chaplain. His was a timely call to begin a new ministry. The Revs. Dr. Helen Appelberg and Scott Blick, both chaplains at St. Luke’s, began to consider how such a program could be set up. That fall Dr. Appelberg set up the first Community of Hope training class with the goal of teaching volunteers to minister effectively to hospital patients. But the program soon grew beyond those parameters, as volunteers asked to take the program to their own churches in order to prepare volunteers for other avenues of ministry.
Today there are training centers in churches and institutions across Texas, as well as in other parts of the country. The volunteers serve through a variety of outlets, such as hospice care and Lay Eucharistic Ministry, as well as hospital lay chaplains. The keystone of the Community of Hope is Benedictine spirituality, a devotion to the care of the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Such spirituality inspires individuals to seek balance, simplicity, and harmony between the inner work of Christian meditation, sacred reading, and prayer and the outer work of corporate worship, pastoral ministry, and serving others.
Is God Calling You to be a Lay Chaplain?
Do you or members of your congregation want to deepen your relationship with God? Would your gifts and talents be put to good use in pastoral care ministry?
If your answer to these questions is “yes” or “maybe,” you may want to consider taking the classes that begins in January 2012.. In addition to providing 42 hours of training to equip laypersons to serve in pastoral care ministry as Lay Chaplains, the Community of Hope offers spiritual growth opportunities in a community shaped by prayer and Benedictine spirituality.
Goals of the Community of Hope are to:
• Establish an ongoing school of spirituality where laity are trained for pastoral care ministry. Graduates become members of the Community of Hope. They are called Lay Chaplains and practice their ministry in various ways within congregations as well as in the wider community.
• Motivate members of the Community of Hope to pursue and practice the spiritual disciplines found in The Rule of Benedict and to apply those spiritual practices to create a praying, caring community. The Rule inspires the community members to work toward balance and harmony in prayer, worship, silence, holy reading, and serving others through pastoral care ministry.
• Equip members of the Community of Hope with pastoral skills to minister where their spiritual gifts are best suited for giving comfort and care to those in need.
Classes for 2012 will be on Tuesday evenings, January 15 through April 24. Registration deadline is December 10. For more information or to register, contact Beverly Davis at email@example.com or 713-523-2864 ext. 27.