Neighbor Care is Saint Mark’s innovative response to looking after all its parishioners.
Rather than following the conventional model of pastoral care (in which a team of trained volunteers under clergy oversight is charged with providing front-line care to those parishioners in specific need), at Saint Mark’s every parishioner is encouraged through one of seven local clusters to exercise their baptismal responsibility to look out for the well-being of one another.
It is a parishioner-led, grassroots movement with minimal infrastructure, allowing each group to develop their network of care as best fits their circumstances and to build relationships with other parishioners in their immediate neighborhood. Clergy continue to care for those with acute needs while supportive care is offered by Neighbor Care.
Launched in March 2017, Neighbor Care has linked members of the parish to their immediate neighbors to a cluster by zip code. In most cases a cluster is formed of an immediate neighborhood and is led by one volunteer who is responsible for coordinating care and sustaining the commitment of participants. Some of the larger clusters have several leaders, each of whom oversees a sub-cluster.
From the beginning, the Neighbor Care initiative has been both designed and growing organically with some clusters merging into others, as needed, and each group deciding how they want to bring Neighbor Care to life in their respective neighborhood. Some clusters have chosen a monthly/bi-monthly meeting model where they come together to build relationships and attend to each other’s needs and others have orchestrated a “buddy” system where the cluster leader and members alternately meet and check in on each other on a regular basis. No matter which model the clusters choose, the goal is the same: meet the needs of fellow parishioners and build relationships thus extending the Saint Mark’s Church family outside the pews and into the neighborhoods and homes of church members throughout the week. We are already seeing powerful ways that Neighbor Care is working in the church, connecting people across services, generations, and backgrounds.
What has Neighbor Care achieved?
- It has coordinated home-cooked dinner deliveries for a parishioner after surgery and in another instance to give respite to the full-time caregiver.
- It has brought together for the first-time parishioners living in the same building but attending different services.
- It has arranged visits to a parishioner with limited social contact.
- It has organized for home-bound parishioners to get to and from church.
- It has brought neighbors together for social events.
The theology behind this understanding of Christian ministry means:
- Participating in Christ’s ministry to the world on behalf of God the Father. It is incarnational ministry: it never loses sight of its divine origin or of its humane goal of communicating the grace of God to all people
- Reaching out to people in their suffering and distress. Christ mingled with people as one who desired their good by showing his sympathy for them, ministering to their needs, and inviting them to follow him.
- Being concerned with helping restore and reorient the whole person. Reorientation is a lifelong process regarded in Scripture as repentance, with restoration of the whole person as the goal.
- Building on a recognition of our own continuing need for repentance and healing. We need to be receptive to others’ perceptions about their spirituality as shown in their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Openness to the transforming grace and truth of God as we grow toward wholeness is equally necessary.
For more information about Neighbor Care, please contact Fr. Stephen Moore.
To locate more information about a cluster, please click on the neighborhood your zip code falls under.
Rittenhouse Cluster: Zip codes 19103, 19104, 19107, 19143, 19144, 19139
Broad Street Cluster: Zip code 19102
Graduate Hospital Cluster: Zip codes 19146, 19145
Fairmount Cluster: Zip codes 19119, 19127, 19128, 19130, 19131, 19133, 19134
South Philly Cluster: Zip codes 19147, 19148, 19149
Old City Cluster: Zip codes 19106, 19122, 19123, 19125, 19140
Mainline Cluster: Zip codes 19003, 19004, 19010, 19041, 19063, 19066, 19072, 19087, 19096, 19312, 19355, 19380, 19382, 19403
New Jersey Cluster: Zip codes 08002, 08108, 08109, 08033, 08034, 08057, 08062