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Pastoral Associates


Lay Pastoral Care is a minister-extending program to provide a confidential, caring presence to congregants undergoing stressful life challenges such as illness; death of a loved one; marriage, divorce, or separation; job loss; retirement; hospital or nursing home stays; loss of income; and/or relocation. First Unitarian Church of Orlando members can receive compassionate care when they are in pain, sick, lonely, or struggling with changes. It can be comforting to know you’re not alone, and it helps to have someone from your faith community listen, care, and offer support.



Pastoral Care Associates are effective and accepting listeners and supportive friends. Through ongoing training, they put the Unitarian Universalist principles to work assisting people in need within an ethical framework of confidentiality and a focus on working for the benefit of the person being served. Pastoral Associates are selected and trained by the minister.



  • Pastoral Care Associates offer a ‘ministry of presence’—listening and support—to people in times of transition.
  • They develop a confidential relationship ranging from one or two phone conversations to regularly scheduled visits over many months.
  • They consult with the minister and offer access to other resources—including the resources of the Caring Circle.
Coordination with the Caring Circle

The Lay Pastoral Care Associates are the ‘presence’ or ‘being’ arm of the team. In the course of their confidential relationship they may become aware of a logistical need of their care receiver and will alert the minister and/or the Caring Circle of the situation.

First Unitarian’s Caring Circle is the ‘doing’ arm of the team. They provide practical, short-term logistical services – transportation, meals, shopping, companionship, etc. They alert the minister and/or the Lay Pastoral Care Associate Coordinator of persons who may need the longer-term, confidential listening services of a Pastoral Care Associate.

The minister meets monthly with the Pastoral Associates and is in regular contact with the Lay Pastoral Care Coordinator and Caring Circle to offer support and guidance and to intervene in situations where a minister’s presence is appropriate.

As members of the congregation interact with each other at church activities, either formally or informally, they may notice signs that someone might be facing challenges. When this happens, they may recommend the Pastoral Care program to that member.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the Lay Pastoral Care Associates program. The Associates undergo extensive training in maintaining confidentiality, and the only people who know of your participation in the program are your Pastoral Care Associate, the Lay Pastoral Care Coordinator, the minister, and whomever you choose to tell. No names are mentioned during the monthly meetings.

Your Lay Pastoral Care Associates have undergone training in active listening, boundary setting, and confidentiality and are eager to be of service.

If you would appreciate having a non-judgmental, supportive listener, please contact our Lay Pastoral Care Associates Coordinator at PastoralAssociates@OrlandoUU.org.


Periodically our church offers Caring for Our Community Training, which teaches the practice of Compassionate Listening. It addresses how our congregation cares for its members, defines Compassionate Listening, and gives guidelines and practice in the art of Active Listening. Whenever this course will be offered, the details will be announced in the Weekly Update.