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If worship is the best-known part of a church’s everyday ministry, pastoral care is a close second. The difference is that pastoral care is often practiced out of public sight and involves an individual, a family, or a small group.

The motivations for pastoral care cover a wide range: grief, marital tensions, illness, family disputes, job loss, debt, loneliness, and more. The church responds to these highly personal challenges and setbacks with empathy and the simple ministry of presence. Pastors and church members may or may not have professional counseling training, but they do have Jesus’ example of coming alongside those in distress with compassion and prayer.

Depending on circumstances, the simple ministry of presence may translate into material ways of supporting and helping people in need, including arranging for financial aid through various sources or making referrals for professional counseling and medical services.

Whatever the cause, alleviating pain and loss and helping to regain balance and purpose is at the heart of pastoral care as practiced at First Church. The pastors of First Church (currently, Ken Hughes and John Long) and the board of deacons have formal responsibility as “first responders” to crisis, emergencies, and ongoing needs within the congregation. It is their hope that they can be helpful in bringing the faith of the church community to bear in the sometimes-difficult task of making sense of life’s challenges and finding a way forward.

Hospital Visitation


Our pastors regularly visit First Church members when they are hospitalized. A hospital visit from one of our pastors could include prayer before surgery or prayers with family and friends waiting for a loved one to come out of surgery. The pastors also offer prayers in your hospital room as you are recovering or waiting for a diagnosis. We see our visits as a sign of God’s care for you during stressful and challenging times.

Pastoral Conversations

Pastors can provide short-term pastoral counseling and referrals for longer-term help. The pastoral staff is available for appointments at the church, to visit you in your home, or to visit wherever would be welcome or helpful.

If you or someone you know would welcome a hospital visit from one of our pastors or a pastoral conversation, please contact Rev. Ken Hughes at 716.361.1342 or or Rev. John Long at 716.877.6896 or If they are unavailable, contact office manager Christina Banas at 716.884.7250 ext. 201 or

Board of Deacons

The board of deacons is often called “the heart of the church.” That description comes from the deacons’ role in caring for the congregation and connecting with members and visitors. As part of their ministry, deacons serve communion to homebound members, often accompanied by a pastor, and also extend the care of the church through cards, phone calls, and visits to those unable to attend church events. Deacons also greet the congregation and visitors before worship services and participate in worship as ushers.

If you know of someone who would benefit from connecting with the deacons, please contact Mary Field at 716.880.5061 or or Lou Ann Luther-Riegle at 716.812.6937 or Mary and Lou Ann serve as co-moderators of the board of deacons. Other members of the board of deacons are Denis Wettlaufer, India Asplundh, Madeline Mason-Brandon, Suzanne Pilon, Jim McKeel, Sheila Miller, Olga Rico-Armesto, Shannon Rogers, and Russ Carlson.