Pastoral ministers are entrusted to be representatives of the Church in its task of building up a society that is both caring and just. They encourage and develop the pastoral care offered by the whole people of God.

They are called to help put God’s caring concern for all people into practice.

They do this:

  • through their own direct contact with people
  • by encouraging and enabling others to exercise a caring ministry
  • by raising awareness of pastoral care needs within their local church and neighbourhood.

Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries (SPAs)

SPAs are lay men and women commissioned by the Bishop to help develop caring and pastoral work on behalf of the Church, in a voluntary capacity. At present there are about 190 active SPAs in the Diocese.

No two SPAs have the same shape to their ministry. Examples of SPA ministry include:

  • co-ordinating a bereavement support group
  • running a parent and toddler group
  • helping to run a pastoral care and visiting team
  • volunteering at a refugee day centre
  • working with homeless people
  • assisting in hospital or prison chaplaincy.

Licensed Lay Ministers (Pastoral)

Licensed Lay Ministers (Pastoral) are lay men and women commissioned by the Bishop. While they undertake similar ministry to that of SPAs, they typically exercise a greater degree of leadership, working across multiple parishes or deaneries, or outside the Church.

Resources for learning

Pastoral theology

Margaret Whipp, SCM Studyguide: Pastoral Theology (London: SCM Press, 2013)

This is a helpful introduction to the nature of pastoral theology and reflections on life situations, seasons and stages of faith. It draws upon psychology, sociology and anthropology to inform but not direct what it terms ‘the humble calling’.

Chapter 3: Faithful Change is an excellent example of this as it considers pastoral care at different life stages and situations, as is Chapter 5: The Fragility of Life.

Chapters 8:The Art of Pastoral Conversation and 9: Boundaries and Power move on to practical considerations of pastoral care.


Justine Allain-Chapman, Resilient Pastors: The role of adversity in healing and growth (London: SPCK, 2012)

This book is aimed at lay and ordained people who want to help themselves and others be strengthened by difficulties in life. It looks at the need for resilience in pastoral ministry and offers a pastoral theology of resilience.

Care for the dying

Sioned Evans and Andrew Davidson, Care for the Dying (London: SCM Press, 2014)

This is a sensitive but straightforward theological and practical pastoral overview of death and the dying process. The Introduction to Palliative Care and The Dying Person are particularly good.

Pastoral supervision

Jane Leach and Michael Paterson, Pastoral Supervision (London: SCM Press, 2010)

This is an introduction to the nature, importance and practice of pastoral supervision. For an overview, see the section What is Pastoral Supervision? and the summary offered by the Association of Pastoral Supervisors and Educators. The appendices offer a useful supervision proforma and learning needs analysis.

Pastoral ministry

Kate Litchfield, Tend My Flock: Sustaining good pastoral care (London: Canterbury Press, 2006)

This is a careful and helpful consideration of the privilege and potential pitfalls of pastoral ministry. Chapter 1: Defining Pastoral Care is a helpful introduction. See also Chapter 2: Human and Divine Power; Chapter 3: Boundaries and Jesus’ Ministry; and Chapter 5: Marriage, Family and Friends.


Video links

The South London Church Fund and Southwark Diocese Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee (No. 236594).
Registered Office: Trinity House, 4 Chapel Court, Borough High Street, London SE1 1HW. Registered Charity: (No. 249678).

© The Diocese of Southwark 2024. All rights reserved.
Hit enter to search or ESC to close