Welcome, Pastor Jim!
This Sunday in worship we will have the joy of welcoming the Rev. Dr. James Smith to our Bethel Church family as Parish Associate for Pastoral Care. We'll have a special time of fellowship following worship to welcome Jim and his wife, Lynne and get to know them both better. You received a letter this spring letting you know more about this relationship and role, and about Pastor Jim. To remind you of what Jim has done in the past and how he will be serving here at Bethel, here are a few excerpts from that letter.
This Parish Associate relationship is a special form of ministry in the Presbyterian Church intended to provide a means by which a pastor who is retired, or not currently serving in a church, may continue in a very limited role to fulfill their calling to pastoral care and ministry. Pastor Jim has been serving in this role, particularly in the areas of pastoral care and visitation (his passions), at Southminster since 2013, but will be losing that relationship due to the retirement of the Senior Pastor this summer. He so enjoyed everyone here at Bethel and is excited about what we are doing in this place as we seek to serve the Lord as we are called. He reached out to me late this spring to see if there was any way he could be of help to us in our work and life together, especially in those areas of pastoral care and visitation. As our congregation continues to age and care for aging family members, and as so many of our members face serious illness, injury, and personal tragedy and challenge- that need for pastoral care, check ins, and visits has increased significantly. This is certainly an area in which help is needed as we strive to care well for our members, especially as our current staff takes on additional duties without a Director of Discipleship.
So, who is Pastor Jim? Rev. Dr. James K. Smith, Sr. earned a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He served as Student Pastor and then Pastor of Hookstown and Millcreek Presbyterian Churches from 1959-1962; Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church (Harrisburg) from 1962-1969; and Pastor of Baldwin United Presbyterian Church from 1969-2006. Prior to, and into his retirement, he was employed by HCR/Manorcare from 1987-2006 as Facility Chaplain and then Director of Chaplains. As he told the Personnel Committee, he tried retirement, but it did not suit him. His passion is truly to care for others, especially in visitation and pastoral care settings, and when he had to stop doing that in retirement, he was not happy. So, he continues to do weekly chapel services at Manor Care in Whitehall and has found great joy in this Parish Associate capacity, helping with visiting and calling on church members, and providing that kind of care he feels so called to do.
Here at Bethel, much of what Jim will be doing in our midst is just that (in his 10 hours a week or so with us): making check-in phone calls, visiting homes, care facilities, and hospitals, and helping us care well for one another. Beyond that…we will live into it. He will certainly preach some (especially when I am gone), help with worship, and probably help lead Bible Study at times. But some of that will work out as we live into this unique and special relationship.
God is indeed good, in providing this help, this partner, and friend! I know you will enjoy getting to know him. And I know he is excited to get to know you all. He sends this message to you: “Friends at Bethel Presbyterian, I am looking forward to meeting you all and sharing your joys and sorrows. I love to visit folks in their homes. I am also looking forward to sharing worship with you. Time goes by fast and before we know it August first will be here. Blessings on you all! Jim.”
I'm looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday and for all God is doing in and through our Bethel Church Family!
You are loved,