Chapter 12 » 12.10
Eldership and oversight
Caring for one another in the local meeting
The work of eldership and oversight is mainly carried out locally. Those responsible for pastoral care will need wisdom and sensitivity. Their ability to inform, advise and counsel will often be called on. Those invited to serve in either capacity may feel that the challenges sound daunting and that they will not match up to expectations. The meeting will be a source of support to those asked to be elders or overseers. The responsibility of eldership and oversight will bring its own rewards.
Understanding of human personality and motivation gained from a variety of disciplines will be of help in effective pastoral caring. Additionally, it may be necessary to be informed about ways of acquiring skills and, where necessary, to seek information from those qualified to give it. Members of our meetings or those associated with us will often have the required knowledge and experience.
It is important to distinguish between everyone’s need to be listened to with sympathetic acceptance, especially when faced with bereavement or other painful situations, and those whose need goes beyond the competence of members of the meeting. It should not be thought of as failure to enlist specialist help from outside the meeting when what is needed cannot otherwise be provided. In all advisory work it is important to recognise that much of it is confidential. If in doubt as to what is confidential and what is not, it is good practice always to check with those involved before passing on any information.
In situations where a meeting for clearness may be appropriate, the individual(s) wishing to call it should consult those responsible for pastoral care in their meeting. An appropriate handbook may be available.