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Pastoral Assistant

Pastoral Assistants are those in whom the Church has discerned special gifts for ‘pastoral care in the church and wider community’.

They are not people who know all the answers. But they are men and women of prayer; people who reflect on the dilemmas of modern life in the light of the Bible and Christian tradition, and people who want to communicate to others the message of Christ through caring action.

They are not people who know all the answers. But they are men and women of prayer; people who reflect on the dilemmas of modern life in the light of the Bible and Christian tradition, and people who want to communicate to others the message of Christ through caring action.

The Pastoral Assistants’ Training Programme comprises of two parts, beginning with a foundation course. This can be a stand-alone module for those who would just like to focus on developing their awareness and understanding of the pastoral care role and the skills needed. 

For those who feel called to the role of Pastoral Assistant after discussion with their minister if agreed, can apply to continue training to attend part two of the course this module involves both study and a practical placement.

Pastoral Care Part 1 Course

This course for Lay people is an introduction to pastoral care skills rooted in a Christian context and is suitable for all who are in some way involved in caring informally for others and wish to develop their pastoral skills and grow their pastoral role within their church.

This is the first of two pastoral courses leading to becoming an Authorised Pastoral Assistant in the Chelmsford Diocese.

Who should attend the course:

  • Those who see themselves helping others informally in their daily relationships and who desire to learn more about pastoral care generally without being part of a pastoral care team
  • Those who are members of a pastoral care team and who desire to learn more about pastoral care in order to help others both informally and formally
  • Those in church leadership or who have specific church roles and who desire to develop their awareness of pastoral care in order to support those for whom they have responsibility
  • Those who wish to help others in specific community and workplace settings and desire to learn more about pastoral care in outreach and mission
  • Those who desire to explore and pursue a call to pastoral care

How does the course work?

There are six sessions in all, which may be spread over six weeks or three full days. The training sessions will include group discussion, sharing of experiences and ideas, practice of skills and individual and group reflection. 

The course content includes:

  • Understanding what pastoral care comprises
  • The Christian basis of pastoral care
  • Offering pastoral care in our churches
  • Qualities of a good listener
  • Listening and responding skills
  • A holistic approach to pastoral care
  • Prayer in pastoral ministry
  • Expectations and boundaries in pastoral ministry
  • Supporting the bereaved
  • Safe practice

How will I be assessed?

There are two assessed activities which are about your pastoral care experience within your church. Full attendance at all course sessions is also necessary to complete the learning and receive a certificate.

The next course is now full.  Details of forthcoming courses will be posted here once the dates and venues are confirmed.  We recommend completing the forms and returning them as soon as possible to ensure you are kept informed of forthcoming courses.

Please fill out an application form, by clicking here and also the data collection form by clicking here.  Please return the forms to by email to Di Hardy.  Your incumbent/minister must also endorse your application by emailing Di Hardy.

Pastoral Assistant Course (Part Two)

On completion of Part 1 of the Pastoral Care Course those who are called to develop their abilities and who will exercise a leadership role in this ministry, will be encouraged to discuss their calling and future role with their minister and vocations adviser. Once agreed and supported by their incumbent and PCC, application to continue their training can be made. This 6 month module will equip them to use their gifts and skills with a view to leading or setting up a team of pastoral visitors. The training will provide an opportunity for a supervised placement outside of the candidate’s usual context in one of the pastoral agencies or chaplaincies (prison, hospital, hospice etc). This will be supported by six (monthly) study sessions of theological reflection on pastoral care, covering specific topics and collaborative working. Successful completion of the course will lead to local authorisation as a Pastoral Assistant.

Permission to minister as a Pastoral Assistant will come from the parish incumbent and Parochial Church Council on behalf of the parish through a local commissioning service. A certificate will be presented at a service in the Cathedral on successful completion of this programme.

If you think that God is calling you to pastoral ministry begin by praying about it and discuss it with your parish minister and the local Vocations Adviser. Application for selection for training is made by the candidate and his/her parish.

It is expected that Pastoral Assistants will attend the Course in Christian Studies (CCS) or equivalent, within 3 years of completing their training. CCS is a two year course and it’s syllabus covers the Bible; Church history; creeds; sacraments; spirituality; discipleship and ethics.  For more information about CCS please click here.

More Information

If you are interested in Pastoral Ministry and would like further information about training opportunities please contact:

Mrs Diane Hardy, Lay Course Administrator,
Diocesan Office, 53 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1AT
Tel: 01245 294449 Email:


The Diocesan Pastoral Assistants Training Co-ordinator:

Hazel Kempton
Diocesan Office, 53 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1AT

Church of England Safeguarding Training

'Safeguarding is at the centre of our faith, in our practice, in our worship, in our praying, and in our believing'

These are the 4 Church of England Safeguarding Training courses required to hold a Bishop’s Authorisation:

  1. Basic Awareness (online)
  2. Foundation (online)
  3. Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse (online)
  4. Leadership (virtual via Zoom) every 3 years

For more information about Church of England Safeguarding Training please visit our Safeguarding Training webpage or contact The Diocesan Safeguarding Team by emailing or calling 01245 294438 or 01245 294490.

For more information or to report anything wrong with this page please contact Diane Hardy