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‘Love from a Distance’

A care ministry team member receives a Valentines Day greeting from a member’s dog.

Thanks to the Member-to-Member outreach program at two Kenosha, Wis., congregations, members have received encouragement and a new sense of connection.

Sue Quever, faith community nurse at Lord of Life Lutheran Church and St. Mary’s Lutheran Church, began the program in the spring of 2020 in response to the pandemic.

“So many of our members have turned inward and experienced depression due to the pandemic,” Sue said. “We wanted to help members feel connected, despite not being able to gather for worship and other congregational activities.”

Care ministry team members check in on members by phone or safely distanced in-person visits. They pray with members and check on their support system, asking, “Do you have someone who loves you and cares for you?” or “How can we help you?” Ministry team members who learn of a concern, can then ask the member if they’d like a visit from the pastor or parish nurse.

The ways volunteers have reached out include:

  • delivering Sunday School materials to younger families
    offering “sidewalk sacrament” – holy communion – and the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday
    delivering Valentines cookies and mini Christmas trees with spiritual messages
    sending spiritual music and other resources to support members recovering from COVID-19 or experiencing other challenges
    providing transportation to help members keep doctor appointments

Sue wears several different hats to make Member-to-Member reality. She is a “dispatcher” – a liaison who links volunteers with members; a “mentor” who offers advice and guidance, and “trainer” on such issues as confidentiality.

“The program provides love from a distance,” Sue said. “Friendships have happened. The program has brought congregants together in a new way.”

To learn more about Member to Member, contact Sue at sue.quever@aah.org.

A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.