“The Lord planted the seed, the Lord gave the increase, and a spiritual community for calling disciples took root.” The Rev. Dr. Helen Appelberg, Founder, COH


St. Aidan’s, Alexandria, and St. Margaret’s, Woodbridge, are joining Pohick, Lorton, as Community of Hope lay pastoral care centers in the Diocese by conducting their first training classes. Pohick is holding its fourth class since 2005. The three churches began the initial Community of Hope 14-week, 42-hour training in January and are offering individual, as well as joint training sessions, which are designed to encourage and equip laity to share with clergy in the ministry of pastoral care.

Br. Michael Gallagher, Holy Cross Monastery, Beaumont, Texas, traveled to Pohick on January 8th to impart Benedictine wisdom and practices to 35 attendees who participated in the first class.  The Community of Hope is rooted in the ageless principles of The Rule of St. Benedict. Br. Michael inspired and encouraged the group to work toward balance and harmony in prayer, worship, silence, holy reading, and serving others while building a community centered on spiritual encouragement, grace, comfort, healing, and hope.


Once participants complete the initial training, they will be commissioned before their congregations as lay chaplains who “listen with the ear of the heart” while being present to those in need. The ministry of presence is a gift of grace to both care receivers and caregivers. The roots of community deepen in monthly Circle of Care gatherings in which the lay chaplains will strengthen their pastoral care skills through continuing education programs and come together to pray, share, and provide each other with mutual support and encouragement.


The Community of Hope is committed to pastoral care within the context of spiritual growth. The training curriculum, which includes Benedictine Spirituality, Theology of Pastoral Care, Pastoral Identity, Listening Skills, Prayer, Meditation, and Silence, Motivational Spiritual Gifts, the Pastoral Visit and Boundaries, Confidentiality, Grief: Coping with Loss, and Care for the Caregiver, invites trainees to participate in a continuous process of self-examination, reflection, and action rooted in St. Benedict spirituality.

The Community of Hope model can be applied in a variety of ministries, including outreach to the community, ministry to the homebound, nursing homes, hospices, retirement communities, prisons, hospitals and rehabilitation centers, women’s ministries, youth and children’s ministries, outreach to the homeless and underserved, and in support of mission trips and community centers. It is active in large and small congregations as well as rural communities, many of whom form cluster groups for training and ongoing support.

emblemInterested in starting a Community of Hope Ministry?

If you are interested in finding out more about Community of Hope or want to begin a new Community of Hope ministry, go to the Community of Hope International (COHI) website www.cohinternational.org or contact Jennifer Sassin, Community of Hope lay chaplain, Pohick Episcopal Church and COHI regional representative for the Atlantic Region at jennifer@jsassin.com.

Join the COHI Annual Conference, June 3–5, 2014

You are also invited to attend the COHI Annual Conference to be held at Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas on June 3–5, 2014 where we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ministry.

– Committee on Mental Health

Posted by DioStaff

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