Who are Pastoral Assistants?

Pastoral Assistants are Christians with a certain amount of life experience and a mature faith who are trained to walk alongside others with a listening ear, especially in times of particular need.

They may specialise in:

  • Hospital visiting
  • Supporting relationships, marriage and family life
  • Support for children, young people and their parents
  • Support during bereavement
  • Support to those in later life and their carers
  • Support for those coping with physical or mental health issues
​Pastoral Assistants Role Description and 5 Year Review

Important changes to Pastoral Assistant training in 2020

We will be reviewing the Pastoral Assistants training provision with a view to offering more flexible training options in 2021 for those that wish to undertake pastoral work. This is part of a wider review of our overall training provision to make it as efficient and accessible as possible.

The existing course for Pastoral Assistants has been in place for some years.  Feedback from participants has been consistently good about the course, but it is felt that a more flexible training format would be beneficial as the current content is more detailed than some Pastoral Assistants need.

In order to work on this review, we will not be able to offer the full Pastoral Assistants training course for authorised ministry.  In its place, we will be offering a basic pastoral skills module, which will cover the essentials and help to equip those new to pastoral ministry and visiting.

This short ‘Parish Befriender’ course will be run twice in 2020; each time for three consecutive Saturdays.  Rather than being authorised by a bishop, those who attend the course will receive a certificate of completion and will be able to undertake parish pastoral work by permission, as their incumbent deems appropriate. 

Who are Parish Befrienders?

They are people who the local church has recognised as having a gift for listening and supporting. They are not people who know all the answers. But are men and women of prayer; people who reflect on the challenges of modern life in the light of faith and who want to communicate to others the message of Christ though caring action.

The course will help learners discover, affirm and develop the gifts they have as well as enable people to pick up ideas and acquire skills necessary to give them greater confidence. It works best with small group where individuals are committed to attending all the sessions. To enable group trust to build more easily. The course is designed to help people think for themselves.

If this is something that interests you, please speak with your incumbent who will need to support your application.

What kind of skills do Parish Befrienders need?

  • Listening
  • Accepting
  • Available
  • Patient
  • Able to keep things in confidence
  • Learn from their own experiences
  • Mature in their own faith
  • Show sensitivity
  • Non-judgmental and able to offer words of hope and encouragement

Who do they serve?

Take a look at any parish and you’ll see many people who would like someone to talk to. Very often, they do not want to bother the clergy, but would appreciate a 'listening ear'.

Parish befrienders can also support the clergy – incumbents often need someone to assist with pastoral work.

How to apply

Everyone wishing to join the course must have the support of their incumbent and PCC. The PCC will be responsible for paying the costs of the training.

It is assumed that those put forward for training will be:

  • Confident in an active and growing Christian faith
  • Flexible and inclusive in their approach to others
  • Sensitive to the problems presented to them
  • People who are able to meet the pain and loss of others - it would not be suitable to put forward a candidate who has not had time to deal with their own pain or loss sufficiently.
  • People who have the confidence of their incumbent and PCC to be able to work as part of the ministry team in the parish

Applications for the course beginning in February 2020 are invited up to the end of October. Please note, this course is already proving popular and is limited to a maximum of 40 places for each course, which fill quickly. The dates for the second course in 2020 will be available at a later date.

How much does it cost?

The cost of Parish Befriender’s training is £150 per participant for the 3 week course.

Request an application pack

The application pack will be sent to incumbents and includes:

  • A supporting statement for the incumbent to complete
  • A drafted statement for the PCC to use in passing a resolution to support the candidate in their training

It is generally not advisable for a student to attend a course whilst there is a vacancy in the parish.

Kerry Tucker Kerry Tucker

Senior Tutor, Pastoral Assistant Foundation Training

01483 790340

Further training for Pastoral Assistants

Funeral Ministry Training Programme

Details of the funeral training for Pastoral Assistants
View >>


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