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Last week, James Lewis, Acting Head of Spiritual Care at Baptcare, graciously invited us into his organisation, to talk all things Spiritual Care. We filmed the conversation as part of our Whitley Video Project, with the aim to share what Spiritual Care means in the wider community, and how organisations like Baptcare are doing this life-giving and important work.
When we asked James what Pastoral and Spiritual Care means, he replied with the following:
“Pastoral Care is the understanding of the Church, and it originated with the image of Church Leaders shepherding their flock. It has religious connotations, and a sense of Christian faith, for those who are seeking meaning from other members of that faith community. Over the last 10 years, I’ve discovered that Pastoral Care is becoming enveloped by Spiritual Care, and this is really evident in the areas that Baptcare is involved in, such as Aged Care and Family Community Services. The message is that while not everybody has a Pastoral need that they identify with, they certainly have a spiritual need. Our model of spiritual care has really developed over the last decade in light of this.”
He went on to explain, “The way in which staff listen to residents, follow-up and take notice of concerns and honour the vulnerability of a person with great dignity and respect is an expression of Spiritual Care. That is honouring the spiritual needs of a person. Lifestyle staff who run activities, Nurses who work in vulnerable situations with such gentleness and care – it becomes evident that it’s about caring for the spirit.”
James went on to share how Spiritual Care is part of the culture at Baptcare. He recounts endorsing a facility cleaner for the way they offered spiritual care by means of listening and conversation with elderly residents.
The future is exciting and bright for Baptcare, as James shares that they’ve been able to establish a class-leading model of Spiritual Care to residents, clients, families and to staff. They aim to help staff feel more connected to the values of the organisation that they belong to and own for themselves some of the gifts they bring in Spiritual Care to the organisations.
It was a real privilege to chat with James and also hear his wonderful testimony of his time as a Whitley student. James went through the ordination program at Whitley when he transitioned from school teacher to Pastor in the mid 2000s. Shortly after, he completed a Master of Divinity and completed more subjects at Whitley in Ministry Supervision. He credits the Whitley community for modelling Pastoral and Spiritual care that has shaped him in life, faith, and vocation.
We will share more about our conversation with James soon. We encourage you to read more about Baptcare here.