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Dakotas United Methodists explore creating a caring community

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues. He announced the good news of the kingdom and healed every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 4:23, CEB

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Karen Lampe leads the Congregational Care Workshop held Jan. 27-28. Photos are screen shots from TCC webinar.

How do you become a congregation that genuinely cares for people as Jesus did? That is the question that 65 participants explored at a two-day training. Six churches held watch parties. In addition, some participants joined the webinar, hosted by The Caring Congregation, on their device at home.

The Caring Congregation (TCC) trains church leaders to provide excellent care ministry. The care method is based on a team approach that empowers pastors and laity to work together to support the congregation and community. This method was developed by Rev. Karen Lampe while previously serving at the Church of the Resurrection and is scalable for churches of all sizes.  

Lampe was joined by TCC team members Monica Childers, Joy Dister-Dominguez, and Laura Berg. Four key concepts undergird the training: embrace teamwork, trust the Holy Spirit, evaluate, and pray first.

Participants learned about the five essentials for organizing a care ministry: 1) Recruit and equip lay persons to become Congregational Care Ministers (CCMs) or care ministers. 2) Develop roles and responsibilities for volunteers to organize care ministry, solicit prayer requests, implement prayer ministry, and visit hospitals, homebound, and senior care facilities. 3) Establish a documentation system that is confidential in both electronic and paper format. 4) Evaluate the current situation and systems and determine what is needed in your community. 5) Communicate and affirm the needs and importance of care ministry with others.

“There is no 'I' in care ministry. It takes a team. Laity need to walk with clergy to deploy the ministry,” said Karen Lampe. “Caring for people can get messy. To avoid confusion or to remain out of the weeds, a system with the five essential elements needs to be in place.”

Participants investigated the theology of care, setting prayer as a priority, boundaries, pastor listening and spiritual guidance, visitation, and caring for people when death is imminent. 

"Remembering that this is a team effort is life-giving. You cannot do it all,” Lampe told participants. “You will start with a system that seems to work. Then as your congregation grows and changes, you will need to evaluate and develop new systems. A team that prays first, constantly evaluates, and trusts the Holy Spirit makes congregational care ministry effective.”

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Joy Dister-Dominguez, upper left, Laura Berg, upper right and Karen Lampe,center bottom answer participants questions during the webinar.

Here are some comments from the participants:

“I always thought it was the pastor’s responsibility to visit people who were sick. I never thought of having a team and that I could be part of the caring team.” 

“There is so much need. It can be overwhelming. I can see how prayer and teamwork are critical.”

“All churches need to create a caring community for all people, no matter the size or location. I am walking away believing I can be part of a team that does just that.”

“Care ministry looks different for each church and community. It is important to involve others and believe that you are an important part of the ministry.”


The Caring Congregation website: Explore resources and upcoming training.

Discernment Retreat, February 4 and March 4: A discernment retreat is the entry point for those exploring a call to pastoral and lay ministry. Participants are equipped and inspired to serve as leaders in various ministry areas inside and outside your congregation. 


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000