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Photo by William E. Pike

 Martín and Linda Soto, his translator and nurse with the Chatham Hospital-based Immigrant Health Initiative. In appreciation for her care, he has promised to learn to write. “Working in the garden makes me feel very healthy,” he says.

Supporting Pastoral Care

But listening isn’t an instinctive response, even for many pastors. With support from The Duke Endowment, Caring Communities is helping train rural ministers in the art of pastoral care.

The Pastoral Care in Community (PCC) series is a 16- session training course for up to 12 clergy. Hosted by a local church, the course focuses on the importance of listening, storytelling and theological reflection. Pastors learn how to better care for those dealing with grief, illness, substance abuse, or family problems. At the conclusion of the four-month course, they are better equipped to care both for others, and for each other.

Al Joyner D’87 took part in a PCC pilot program in Wadesboro, N.C.

“Many times I had worked 12 to 15 hours a day, six days a week, traveling to hospitals and counseling,” says Joyner. “I needed to hear that I did not have to solve all the problems of the world or be everything for everybody.” Unless ministers are supported in making healthy choices, he adds, pastoral burnout is likely.

“I discovered caring for myself was the best thing I could do for my congregations,” says Joyner, who will host a PCC group in the coming year at First United Methodist Church in Elkin, N.C. “I am more fit physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally than before.”

Martín’s Garden

Linda Soto watches with pride as Martín inspects the lush garden near Siler City’s Chatham Hospital. “We call it ‘Martín’s Garden,’” she says, a tribute to the hours he spends caring for it, which sets him apart from other volunteers. “Sometimes he starts to cry,” she says, “and I ask, ‘Why are you crying?’ He says to me, ‘You help me so much, and there is nothing I can do to help you.’” But in health ministries, it’s not a question of who helps whom. Martín and Linda see each other as family. “This work,” says Soto, “comes from the heart.”

William E. Pike , D’03, is staff associate for the Caring Communities program at Duke Divinity School. He and his wife Brooke, a staff specialist at the J.M. Ormond Center, live in Durham with their son, Jacob, and attend McMannen United Methodist Church.


“We hope to help form the conversation regarding theology and health within the church and medicine through our work at the divinity school.We are very excited about the current synergies at Duke in this area and look forward to continued collaboration with our colleagues in the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life, as well as with the medical center.”

Keith Meador, M.D., Th.M., M.P.H.
Director, Theology and Medicine Program
Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Medicine


For more details about Caring Communities, visit http://www.caringcommunities.divinity.duke.edu/. For information about outreach services available to local congregations, please browse the Caring Communities Web site or make a visit to the Durham resource center.

For additional information, contact:

Rose Hodge, Staff Assistant
Theology and Medicine Duke Divinity School, Box 90968,
Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-3507, rhodge@div.duke.edu

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DIVINITY Online Edition :: Fall 2004 Volume 4 Number 1 Duke Divinity School