A Community of Connection
Anyone in our community may seek care, confidentially and free of charge. Our concept of care comes from our Unitarian Universalist values that each person deserves emotional and spiritual support, and that accessing it in a community can be especially helpful and healing. Here at the Fellowship, it means that individuals can access a listening presence with someone who represents the nurture of the whole community, so that their pain and gladness might be witnessed.
Congregational care (sometimes called pastoral care) is not a substitute for mental health care, legal counsel, family mediation, social work, or even professional therapy. It is a purposeful, low-pressure way to connect with others and yourself, spiritually and practically, for the purpose of sacred peace, emotional growth, or problem solving about a variety of life issues.
Examples of why someone might desire care could include:
*interest in deepening meaning in life *arrival of new family member *domestic violence *homelessness *personal evolution *promotion at work *gender transition *partner’s terminal diagnosis *family conflict *aging *religious growth *suicidal thoughts *illness *graduation *death of a parent *divorce or break-up *caregiver concerns *trauma and recovery *parenting challenges *discerning a new call (to justice work, a different career, or something else) *and more!
Providers of Care
Usually associate minister Rev. Leah Ongiri is the lead person for care. Together, she, senior minister Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy, other staff, and the Care Team (CT) work together to support members and friends in times of need.
CT members are lay leaders whose talents, experience, and special training enable them to meaningfully respond to those in times of joy and sorrow. They practice a ministry of presence and quiet listening, and are available for one-time or ongoing connection. CT members are carefully vetted and complete training that includes guidelines about open-mindedness, ethics, and confidentiality. Ministers provide ongoing accountability and support. Meet the current members of our care team here:
Fellowship members and friends may always:
-Connect with a minister to access modest and occasional financial help swiftly and confidentially from the donation-supported Ministers’ Discretionary Fund.
-Ask director of congregational life Marie Luna to have our Meal Ministry offer you a home cooked dinner to help get you through a sad, busy or difficult stretch and/or connect you with someone who might be able to offer some limited kinds of practical support.
-Request that a care team member or minister get you a grief kit, which is a small bag of items that can help you create a ritual for sorrow at home. This can be a meaningful symbolic reminder that you are always held in the loving embrace of community You can read more about grief kits and their contents here.
-Collaborate with a minister to create a private ceremony, whether for a wedding or funeral/memorial service; a blessing for an occasion such as transitioning genders, moving to a new home, returning to civilian life after service in the armed forces, or retiring from the workforce; or a ritual to commemorate divorce, entering hospice care for the final life stage, offering a child up for adoption, or having an abortion.
Important Contacts outside of the Fellowship
Ministers are always happy to work with members to find supportive resources such a professional therapist specializing in an issue or experience you might be facing, online NA group, local grief support meeting, and more. Please contact them directly!
Calling 2-1-1 (or visiting 211wisconsin.org) will put you in touch with information, referrals, advocacy, crisis intervention, and more. This is a 24/7 statewide resource.
If you are afraid for your own safety or the safety of others, please call 911 immediately and then let a minister know afterward.
Together, we create the caring community we desire.