1. to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.
2. to contribute, as to comfort or happiness.
There are many ways to define ministers. Most people might imagine a pastor with Bible in hand and acolytes in tow. Or perhaps it makes you think of a government official of some sort. The Congregational Care Ministers (CCMs) of FUMCFW are exactly what that title sounds like — they are ministers who care for our congregation. In other words, CCMs are lay persons who work with our clergy and staff to help meet the needs of our church family. Just like any minister, they do their part for the good of others through:
- Hospital visits and telephone calls
- One-on-one support during illness or in times of need
- Support to grieving families
- Proactive ways to encourage and care for people in our congregation
- Communion to hospitalized or homebound FUMCFW members
No matter how they minister to our congregation, their care means so much to our church family. To give you an even fuller definition of all our CCMs do, let’s take a closer look at two of them: Carol Catching and Marsha Warren. Both Carol and Marsha are retired teachers who were looking for a new way to get involved here at FUMCFW.
Carol admits that at first she was only planning to volunteer for the flower ministry. “I went to orientation to see what the Congregational Care Ministry is all about, and that was it,” she recalls. “I joined that instead of delivering flowers.” In her 44 years as a church member, Carol has worked in many areas, including Sunday School and preschool teaching, Children’s and Youth Ministries, and United Methodist Women. Out of all that time, she says that her work as a CCM has been the most rewarding.
Marsha Warren and her husband, George, started attending FUMCFW in 2004. When George passed away about a year later, Marsha says that she remembers an overflow of concern from our church that she appreciated a great deal. As a way to stay busy and give back during her retirement, she decided to train as a CCM. “I love people and I knew when I became a widow the worst thing to do would be to just crawl into a shell,” Marsha reflects. “I knew I had to have people in my life, and there just seemed to be a longing like a guide into that kind of ministry.” Like Carol, it didn’t take Marsha long to discover that this is a very fulfilling opportunity for ministry.
In becoming CCMs, both Carol and Marsha have found a calling that offers much more than meets the eye. Not only do these ministers care for our members — our members care right back. “When you make your visits you think you are uplifting the members that you are seeing, but you come away with being lifted up from visiting with them even more,” Carol explains. “It truly deepens your own spiritual journey.” Marsha agrees that the members inspire her during their visits. “I found out when I’m tired and feel like I’ve gone just about as far as I can, one little visit with these precious people can lift my spirits and make me feel completely different,” Marsha adds. “What they’ve given to me has just been wonderful.”
Carol says that she visits several church members who have no living relatives, so they are extremely appreciative and want to see her as often as possible. One woman tells Carol that her visits mean the world to her, and another calls her “a ray of sunshine.” A blind woman looks forward to getting “The Upper Room” from Carol so her caregiver can read it to her each night before bed. “It’s just very rewarding because you’re brightening someone else’s day when you go visit them,” Carol says. “You enrich their lives, but they enrich your life from the visit and become your close friend.”
Meanwhile, Marsha makes banana bread for her church members, and one of them often gives her two Mr. Goodbars in return. Her longest-lasting relationship was with a former Sunday School classmate, Betty. Marsha was Betty’s CCM, and she read the Bible to her since she cherished the Word but could not hold a book herself. “I lost her and that was a sad sad thing for me,” Marsha recalls, “but she was my prayer partner, and I just cherish everything we were able to share with each other.”
Carol points out that in visiting with our members, CCMs learn a lot about FUMCFW’s history, their involvement in it, and how much our church means to them. Although a lot of these members are hospitalized or homebound and can no longer attend church, they still want to stay connected with it. Our CCMs are dedicated to showing them that they are just as important to our church today as they were many years ago. “It is a way of letting our members know that we have not forgotten them, we love them, and that they are still a vital part of our church family,” Carol declares.
“They are encouragers who love the Lord and our church and are thrilled when someone (not a minister but a regular church member) takes time to come visit and let them know what’s going on with our church,” Marsha adds. As she says, it only takes a little bit of time to love people and appreciate our older members and what they have done. “I feel that I can now minister to them — and beyond being a CCM, I can become a friend that they can confide in and trust and pray with,” she adds. “In a large church, a lot of times people think, ‘What is my little space?’ For me, that is CCM and it has become a big space in my heart.”
From visitors to prayer partners to friends, the CCMs of First Church redefine the many ways we can be a minister to others. For more information on becoming a CCM, contact Rev. Phyllis Barren (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 817/339-5082. Plus, join Phyllis and other CCMs in the Garden on May 15, 22, and 29 to learn even more about this meaningful ministry.