Jill Milner, who has just had to give up her role as a Pastoral Assistant in the Melton Mowbray Team Parish.
Jill's lifetime of caring
Due to ill health Jill Milner has had to give up her role as a Pastoral Assistant in the Melton Mowbray Team Parish after 10 years. Here she looks back on her time doing this work.
"All my life I have worked in the caring field; as a nurse, midwife and mother with God at my side. It has been a gradual growing awareness of the call to serve. A burning desire within me to be of use to others wherever they are on their journey, and to share the feelings I had of God’s love.
Having been present at so many births and deaths during those 20-30 years, with the mixture of joy and sadness came deep emotions that often were to be shared with the families.
I received inspiration and encouragement from colleagues in and outside of the church community. Seeing how their lives were somehow different from others full of patience, understanding, love and encouragement, and wishing others (and myself) to experience the Love that flowed from them.
Needing to know more about Jesus, to understand him in more depth, I joined a Bible Connections Course which Revd Charles Jenkins and his wife Susan started in 1999, with just a few others, within the context of study. Pastoral work was looked at in more detail and the work of a Pastoral Assistant.
Following this, I continued with a Exploring Christian Life and Faith course in 2003/05. The course contained several absorbing modules from some very good lecturers, and we had written work and assignments to complete if you were thinking of going on further into ministry work.
We were encouraged to become involved in different forms of community and church outlets. I helped with a number including the Youth Club at Thorpe Arnold church once a week, Residential Services at Catherine Dally and Broad Oak Lodge, Pram Club at Samworth Centre Cafe, Baptism Preparation (visiting and supporting several of the congregation), and Children’s Society events. I also organised other events in church, and later helped with the Holiday Club.
Jill Milner, pictured third from left at an Over 80's Fellowship group meeting last year when members were invited to work on the Parish Patchwork.
During this time I felt a growing awareness that there was a need for more input for the elderly in the congregation alongside the monthly Care and Share, which was already a great success. Perhaps another event was needed, for example having a half day for them with lunch, and various activities made available to coincide with the church Holiday Club.
My deep desire grew to enter the Pastoral Ministry and, after a selection process, I was accepted to begin my training in June 2007. This was held in different churches around the Diocese, and Jacqui Wilson and myself began our journeying together.
The work covered so much from book reviews, types of prayer, contextual base learning, Healing and Wholeness, Worship, Assignments, Living with Family and Community, Celebration and Commemorations, and much more.
By this time I was pretty sure that my calling was with the elderly. There were eight of us in all from around the Diocese, and we met each week from June 2007 until October 2008 in various churches. We became a close, caring group, and enjoyed working together, despite having quite different work agreements at our own churches.
A magazine, particularly written for them, was another idea and first appeared in November 2009 with a story written by the Bishop of Norwich, the Very Reverend Graham Jame, about Super Senior Christians and 93-year-old Auntie Betty, who was allowed into Flambards Theme Park in Cornwall free. They didn't expect her to partake of their roller coaster, but they didn't bargain with Auntie Betty!
The article went on to show that our elderly are of value in our churches and need to be recognised more. This little magazine ran for some months, but the“80’s Plus Fellowship Circle” members - named by Mr George Howes and agreed by several elderly members - are still meeting with a small group of helpers two or three times a year, and several elder congregation members.
In the earlier years a visit to Launde Abbey to see the Snowdrops was enjoyed by a dozen or so members, with the usual cream tea to follow. A Royal Tea party tea was held to commemorate the Queen's 90th Birthday, and our 90-year-olds gathered to cut the cakes gifted to us by Jenny Barnes, of Richard Barnes Funeral Directors, on this special occasion.
The Community Patchwork has also been on display earlier in the year and there are plans for several meetings through the year organised by Marie Styles. At the finish I felt so full of love and joy (Psalm 139 - David praises God for all his all-seeing providence).
We then welcomed Revd Kevin Ashby and Alyson following an interregnum and so began the real work. I did have some difficulties, even then, with my hearing so found it a challenge at times but no less absorbing. Much of the experience learnt came from the people that I had the pleasure of listening to, and praying with sensitivity and understanding.
Above: Jill Milner pictured having fun at church events.
I have belonged to two bible groups and this gave me great encouragement, strength and help, particularly when dealing with different issues, whilst maintaining confidentiality, including visiting and transporting folk to hospital appointments.
I always felt helping with administering Holy Communion a joy and a gift to be able to serve. Any intercessions offered I also find a wonderful way of serving.
My true ministry began by going to Oberammergau in 2010 with Kevin and Alyson - a wonderful experience in many ways.
Unfortunately, I recently have had to reduce my ministry due to ill health and now find I am unable to take on the same workload, but I can still pray for all that need praying for, which is a great deal in our church and world and beyond; community, poverty, persecution, our beautiful world and much more.
To end my story of my time as a Pastoral Assistant, I would like thank all the people I haven't mentioned that have always supported me. To quote a Hymn that was sung on the day of our Commissioning in Leicester Cathedral 10 years ago - as moving now as then:
Longing for light, we wait in darkness
Longing for truth, we turn to you
Make us your own, your holy people, light for the world to see
Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts
Shine through the darkness,
Christ be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today
This I pray for everyone. With God’s love."
Taking a well earned rest: Jill Milner
Jacqui Wilson, who became a Pastoral Assistant at the same time as Jill, writes: "Jill has been a Pastoral Assistant for 10 years. She is a very kind and caring person and has a heart for the elderly. A lot of her ministry involved working with the elderly and she would often go the extra mile, being very generous with her time.
When an older person was ill or recovering from an illness she would visit and where appropriate would stay to help do jigsaws or play board games, to keep them company. At times she might be with them for a whole afternoon/morning. She would help them in other practical ways as well and would signpost them to services that might be of help to them.
Jill set up the Over 80's Fellowship Group and organised a variety of activities and events for them. She took services in some of the residential homes and also assisted the clergy with communion services there."