How Space Affects Pastoral Care

By the Reverend Manisha Dostert, Senior Associate Rector

The death was unexpected. She was in her prime and there was no warning. The family called the church and after prayers and a conversation with the priest, the family came to the church to discuss funeral arrangements.

Their baby was born after many years of prayers and many tears. How could they thank God for the miracle of life? It seemed like baptism was a good place to begin.

It was a match made in heaven and they wanted a wedding that would help them celebrate their joy. One of them had graduated from Cranbrook Schools and his ceremony was in the beautiful sanctuary of Christ Church Cranbrook. It seemed like the perfect place to begin their new life together.

All of these true stories reflect the many sacred moments in our lives when we naturally invite the Church to help us honor, celebrate, remember and mourn with us. We also depend on our priests to provide spaces to listen, counsel and pray with us in our moments of sorrow and joy.
The proposed campus redevelopment plan will help us in the pastoral care of our congregation by providing, first and foremost, a welcoming entrance and clarity on how to get to the offices. It will also give us many multifunctional spaces to meet with persons and families as they experience the milestones in life.

Finally, all the staff engage in the ministry of listening, and having enough offices so parishioners can have caring conversations as they face important life decisions and transitions is part of our calling. As we continue to grow our pastoral care ministries, the campus redevelopment plan could also provide some sacred spaces that are intimate and prayerful, so groups can gather to pray, learn and support one another.

The care for one another is a hallmark of the Christian faith. Our Christian care is not only spiritual, but it is embodied (it is the reason the Church invented hospitals). What I love about being Christian is we get to admit out loud what we know inherently- spaces matter for our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Places matter. It is the reason our religious ancestors marked those places where they sensed God was present with rocks and altars. The Celtics called those spaces “thin places,” where there is very little separating the realms of heaven and earth. I believe our campus redevelopment seeks to do just that- to create a whole church filled with thin spaces when we need to feel God’s presence the most.

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