Commissioning Service for Authorised Pastoral Assistants
Authorised Pastoral Assistants have a crucial role in many of our parishes working alongside parish priests caring for parishioners at vulnerable times in their lives.
Authorised Pastoral Assistants (APA) are commissioned for five years at a time. On Thursday July 12th, in Durham Cathedral, at 7pm, a group of APAs will be commissioned with some being re-commissioned for another five years.
The programme, which involves extensive training, was launched in the Diocese in 2001 and APA Officer, former teacher Alison Moore, Advisor in Pastoral Care and Counselling for the Diocese, said: “All Christians are called to love others. However, it takes particular skill to be alongside people during difficult times and be able to listen to their problems and show love that way. The APAs are able to be with people, listening carefully and attentively to what their needs are and helping to meet those needs.”
One of the Churches involved in the initial APA pilot was St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church at Houghton le Spring, Wearside, which is still an important part of the scheme; two existing APAs from the Church will be re-commissioned on July 12 with two new ones to be commissioned for the first time. APA works in the Parish include visiting the sick, a youth outreach programme and drop-in sessions.
St Michaels’ APA Thelma Steele, who will be re-commissioned, said: “I am interested in people and I like working with them. I realised that throughout my life I have been someone who listens to people, does not advise them on their problems but just listens. As APAs, we work anywhere that the clergy need support.”
Elaine Harkness, who will be commissioned with her identical twin sister, said: “All through our lives, people have talked to us and brought their problems to us. We have always visited people and it has just carried on from that.“
Both women paid tribute to one of the first APAs at St Michael’s, who inspired others to join up. Ivy Lemmon, one of the first APAs in the Diocese, died in December last year. Elaine, who said she was inspired by Ivy’s example, said: ”She was a very outgoing person and someone who was very committed to people.”
St Michael’s and All Angels Vicar, the Rector of Houghton le Spring The Reverend Sue Pinnington said: “The APAs add a huge amount of value, they are a key part of our pastoral team. They are also in many respects our eyes and ears in the parish and hear about people in trouble or incidents far earlier than the clergy would.”
In the photo from left to right are Elaine Harkness, Thelma Steel, Alison Moore, Revd Sue Pinnington
Picture By: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates
View the news archive