Over a couple of months in early 2014, a Pastoral Care Task Force, met for three sessions. Its charge was to envision pastoral ministry for Saint Mark’s future. The members of the task concluded that Saint Markans should continue to provide prayerful listening in times of difficulty, loss, grief, transition, and celebration. In addition to our tradition of caring ministries, the task force found new possibilities for growth in pastoral support—in our ministries of meals and lunches, and with youth.
The task force also explored various ways to prepare people for pastoral ministry. Of all the models that the task force considered, one stood out—Community of Hope International (COHI). The Reverend Helen Appelberg, an Episcopal priest led the creation of COHI in 1994, when she was a chaplain at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston.
COHI is rooted in Anglican Benedictine spirituality. The program not only teaches the skills of pastoral ministry but also assures that pastoral team members deepen their own spiritual lives and relationships with others. Episcopalians developed COHI, and it provides a high quality affordable curriculum supplemented by online resources. COHI has a national presence and has recently found its way to Minnesota. It provides flexibility in the selection of faculty and pacing of the 14-unit program. St. John the Baptist in Linden Hills has completed its first training sessions and will be an excellent resource. Trinity in Excelsior and St. John the Evangelist in St. Paul are adopting the model so we have partners within the metropolitan Episcopal Churches in Minnesota. We, at Saint Mark’s, have the capacity and commitment to develop a strong pastoral care ministry.