Gluten-Free Communion & New Elder Pastoral Care Ministry
The Session took two actions at the meeting on April 10, 2012. The elders approved using gluten-free elements for the Lord's Supper and a new "Elder Pastoral Care Ministry." You will find fuller descriptions of both of these actions by clicking, "Read more."
Gluten-Free Communion. The Session is aware of the growing number of our Covenant family who are discovering they are gluten intolerant. Wheat is a major source of gluten in our diet. This impacts the life of Covenant as we share meals together at church and as we observe the Lord’s Table. Those who are gluten intolerant either avoid taking the bread during the meal or bring their own gluten-free bread. We believe it will be a benefit to make the observance of the Lord’s Table totally gluten-free. It is our hope to provide a gluten-free environment at the Covenant Meal in May. We will start using a commercially certified gluten-free wafer (cracker) instead of bread with gluten. The large symbolic loaf and silver cup will no longer be used. This is necessary to prevent any cross contamination. In addition we will take every step necessary to keep the communion preparation area gluten-free by not allowing any wheat products in the area to prevent cross contamination. If you have any questions let your elder know.
New Elder Pastoral Care Model. Your current shepherding group (small group) composition will not change. Your group will stay the same though we hope to call these groups Covenant Community Groups or some such name in the future as we move to a more traditional small group model and seek to avoid confusion with the old shepherding group model. What will change? The only change is how the elder goes about providing shepherding, or more specific, giving pastoral care. It is more an administrative change at the sessional level. Thus, the new model is termed “Elder Pastoral Care Groups.” Currently the elders shepherding responsibilities are tied to the shepherding groups. Though the groups are going well, from an administrative angle, the current structure is problematic to administer. Our goal is to give pastoral care to the whole congregation, but only a fraction of the congregation is in a small group and some groups have one elder and are very large. This has resulted in inequality with some elders having fewer to serve than others. The solution we have adopted is to separate the formal elder pastoral care function from the small groups. Elders will be assigned roughly equal numbers of church families many of which will be members of the small group the elder currently attends. The elder will be responsible for communicating important information to his care group, soliciting prayer requests from each member, making contact with each member throughout the year, managing special needs of his group, and being held accountable by the Session for fulfilling these duties. You may access the specific Elder Responsibilities on the website - click here. The Elder Pastoral Care Groups list is available on our website - Elder Pastoral Care Groups. Also the list will be posted on a bulletin board near the mail folders and will be included in mailer put in each persons mail folder. Our hope is these steps will give you the information you need to avail yourself of the important benefit of having the care of an elder. You are encouraged to contact your elder with physical needs, prayer needs, or any spiritual matter. As our church is growing numerically, we have come to see our need for a pastoral care model that will enable us to meet the demands of a larger congregation and be a workable structure in an officer rotational system. We believe this new approach will enable us to meet the current need as well as in the future.