Pastoral Assistant

Pastoral Assistants are those in whom the Church has discerned special gifts for ‘pastoral care in the church and wider community’.

Pastoral Assistants are those in whom the Church has discerned special gifts for ‘pastoral care in the church and wider community’.

They are not people who know all the answers. But they are men and women of prayer; people who reflect on the dilemmas of modern life in the light of the Bible and Christian tradition, and people who want to communicate to others the message of Christ through caring action.

The Pastoral Assistants’ Training Programme comprises of two parts, beginning with a foundation course. This  can be a stand-alone module for those who would like to focus on developing their awareness and understanding of the pastoral care role and the skills needed. For those who feel called to the role of Pastoral Assistant after discussion with their minister if agreed, can apply to continue training to attend part two of the course this module involves both study and a practical placement.

Pastoral Care Foundation Course (Part One)

Course Aim: To enable you to develop your understanding of pastoral care from a Christian perspective and to become more effective in relating to and caring for the people and communities around you.

Who should attend the course:

  • Those who see themselves helping others informally in their daily relationships and who desire to learn more about pastoral care generally without being part of a pastoral care team
  • Those who are members of a pastoral care team and who desire to learn more about pastoral care in order to help others both informally and formally
  • Those in church leadership or who have specific church roles and who desire to develop their awareness of pastoral care in order to support those for whom they have responsibility
  • Those who wish to help others in specific community and workplace settings and desire to learn more about pastoral care in outreach and mission
  • Those who desire to explore and pursue a call to pastoral care

Learning Outcomes:

The course is designed to help you to:

  • develop your understanding of pastoral care from a Christian perspective
  • develop your understanding of the various dimensions of human need
  • understand the nature of a caring relationship from a Christian perspective and define the personal qualities necessary to build this
  • acquire and develop appropriate listening and responding skills
  • identify and know how to access and utilise relevant personal, spiritual and community resources
  • identify and understand principles of spiritual, emotional, physical and sexual safety within the context of pastoral care, and know how to apply these principles in your caring relationships 
  • reflect on what you have learned and how you might apply this to your pastoral care setting
  • identify where you would benefit from further growth and development

How does the course work?

A number of trainer led group sessions totalling 22 ½ hours, available in each episcopal area.

The training sessions will include group discussion, sharing of experiences and ideas, practice of skills and individual and group reflection.

  • course member will be asked to briefly share a caring situation – their feelings, reactions etc.
  • course members will be asked to share how a book, article from the internet, etc. has helped them in caring for others

At the end of the course you will receive a Certificate of Attendance if you attend at least 90% of the course and completion of the two reflective exercises. 

Pastoral Care Course (Part Two)

On completion of the foundation course those who are called to develop their abilities and who will exercise a leadership role in this ministry, will be encouraged to discuss their calling and future role with their minister and vocations advisor. Once agreed and supported by their incumbent and PCC, application to continue their training can be made. This module will equip them to use their gifts and skills with a view to leading or setting up a team of pastoral visitors. The training will provide an opportunity for a supervised placement outside of the candidate’s usual context in one of the pastoral agencies or chaplaincies (prison, hospital etc). This will be supported by six (monthly) study sessions of theological reflection on pastoral care, covering specific topics and collaborative working. Successful completion of the course will lead to local authorisation as a Pastoral Assistant.

Permission to minister as a Pastoral Assistant will come from the parish incumbent and Parochial Church Council on behalf of the parish through a local commissioning service. A certificate will be presented at a service in the Cathedral on successful completion of this programme.

If you think that God is calling you to pastoral ministry begin by praying about it and discuss it with your parish minister and the local Vocations Adviser. Application for selection for training is made by the candidate and his/her parish.

It is expected that Pastoral Assistants will attend the Course in Christian Studies (CCS) or equivalent, within 3 years of completing their training. CCS is a two year course and it’s syllabus covers the Bible; Church history; creeds; sacraments; spirituality; discipleship and ethics.

More Information

To find out about  forthcoming course dates and venues please click here.

For more information on the Pastoral Care Foundation Course and to download an application form please click here

To download the Pastoral Care Foundation Course poster please click here.

If you are interested in the ministry of Pastoral Assistant and would like further information or an initial application form please contact:

Mrs Diane Hardy, Course Administrator,
Diocesan Office, 53 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1AT
Tel: 01245 294449 Email:
The Diocesan Pastoral Assistants Training Co-ordinator is:

Mrs Beverley Vincent
Diocesan Office, 53 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1AT
Tel: 01245 294456 Email:

For more information please contact Beverley Vincent
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