Community of Hope
The Community of Hope (COH) is “a school for God’s service” (Prologue, Rule of Benedict). The mission of COH is to help create and sustain Christian communities of volunteer lay pastoral caregivers united in prayer, shaped by Benedictine spirituality, and equipped for and serving in pastoral care ministries. All in the diocese are welcome to engage in this ministry.
The initial training program of 14 modules is taught by guest lecturers with expertise in particular areas of pastoral ministry and includes practice pastoral visits. Training is offered approximately every two years in one of the three centers in the Diocese. Those successfully completing the training are commissioned as lay chaplains and members of COH during a Sunday morning Eucharist. After commissioning, chaplains gather monthly in small Circles of Care. These times of togetherness and quarterly meetings with the diocesan COH community as a whole offer worship, continuing education, encouragement, and spiritual nurturing. This community life is shaped by the principles found in The Rule of Benedict and its commentary by Sister Joan Chittister. Community members work toward balance and harmony in prayer, worship, silence, holy reading, and serving others through pastoral care ministry.
Our lay chaplains provide a ministry of presence, and each ministry is as individual as the gifts of each chaplain. Some visit the sick or infirm at their homes or in hospitals, some have feeding ministries, some visit prisoners, some walk with people in their final hours in hospice. We can be Eucharistic ministers bringing communion to the homebound or hospitalized. The only agenda we have is to alleviate the suffering in the world with the gift of our presence and a listening ear. We daily practice being the hands and feet of Christ in this world.
COH training centers are located at The Church of St. Michael and St. George in Clayton (where Mary Bredenburg organized the first training class in our diocese in 2001 and fostered the growth of COH when it became a diocesan program) and Grace Episcopal Church in Kirkwood. Trainees represent many Episcopal parishes and other congregations in the St. Louis area. Our diocesan Community of Hope is part of the Community of Hope International. Community of Hope offers a training program for anyone interested in getting involved. New dates will be announced soon.
Contact one of the COH Porters for more information: