You’ve likely heard of, if not experienced, seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

It’s a type of sadness or depression that comes about with a change in the seasons—typically, though not always, starting sometime in the fall and continuing through the winter months. When it is severe, it calls for professional therapy, and even medical intervention. There are degrees of seasonal angst, however; and, short of something approaching clinical depression, it can be a condition lessened, if not eliminated, by the supportive, caring, perspective-giving presence of other people. As I shared in my November article, however, research indicates that “nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone, left out, not having meaningful relationships, or believing they are isolated from others.” 

“the church community can be one of the most effective antidotes to loneliness.”

I also stated my belief that “the church community can be one of the most effective antidotes to loneliness.” Making life-giving, loneliness-lessening, sadness-lifting connections does take some intentionality and effort, though—even in the church. If we are going to truly “be there” for one another, we need to be reaching out, both as caregivers and care- receivers. We need to make genuine friendship a priority. 

We have recently made a move in this congregation which I hope will help that to happen. For a variety of reasons, we are ending our Stephen Ministry program in its present form and melding it into our ongoing Caring Ministry. Caring Ministry has been for some time an important, life-giving part of who we are as a church family. With the added strength of our Stephen Ministers and, thereby, an additional emphasis on cultivating caring relationships, we are going to be increasingly intentional about being present for one another in healing, helping ways. 

Caring Ministry

Caring Ministry brochures are available in the church office and at the Welcome Center on Sunday mornings. They outline the “key services” provided by this team. With the addition of our Stephen Ministers, more of these can be added. For now, I want to call your attention to one of the existing services. It’s called “Calls Ministry,” and it’s described in the brochure this way: “Our calls team makes encouraging calls to members who may be lonely at home and need to speak to someone, going through a tough time, grieving, etc.” We also have a “Visitation Ministry” and other services, with more yet to be added. Check out the brochure; and if you need some help, or know of someone who does, call me (951-639- 3490); call the church office (951-677-6174); or call the co-coordinators of our Caring Ministry team, Eula Anyiwo (909-731-6706) or Edna Wright (951-677-6819). 

Pastor Tom 

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