The Rev. Pamela Bell
Deacon Pam serves at St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale.
I grew up in Phoenix first attending All Saints’, then getting married at Christ Church of the Ascension. I am a University of Arizona graduate (3rd generation) and spent the next 21 years moving about the country with my husband, Jeff Bell, and three boys. I returned home in 2001 and settled at St. Barnabas. Over the course of years and a number of churches and moves, I have been a Sunday school teacher, VBS director, Stephen’s Minister, LEM, Altar Guild Director, Grief Counselor, and am a certified Spiritual Director.
While participating in EfM (Education for Ministry), the call to be a Spiritual Director occurred. So for two years, I simultaneously completed EfM and a two-year course for spiritual direc-tors. At the end of this training, I recognized that I could no longer ignore my true calling, that of becom-ing a deacon.
In June 2019, I was ordained and began serving at St. Barnabas sup-porting Parish Life Ministries and Pastoral Care Ministries. This was a wonderful combination of working with both my church community and the community at large. I re-engaged in spiritual direction, after taking two years off during Deacon Formation.
I joined with clergy leadership to provide needed pastoral care and spiritual direction, both within St. Barnabas and the community. I became involved with our Community of Hope chaplaincy, supporting our lay chaplains in their mission of pastoral care.
Then COVID-19 happened, and I entered a period of redefining what my roles with my parish were to be. Pastoral care changed dramatically overnight. With many in our community in lock down, and those who were vulnerable unable to go out, we opened up a new ministry. Instead of deploying our lay chaplains for in person visits, we now had a parish wide call list. We reached out to our older population, identifying needs.
From there we maintained weekly, bi-weekly or monthly contact, depend-ing on their needs. Pastoral care now became a phone ministry and a card ministry. We connected, as best we could, sometimes helping people out to access the internet and join in online services and Zoom meetings and classes. For those who did not have the desire to do the technology, we continued making contact via phone and snail mail. What was thought to be just a few months has now entered a year of new ways of pastoral care.
This was also the case in Parish Life. Mission trips were cancelled. Feeding the homeless was cancelled. Hosting
Family Promise was cancelled. Parish-wide gatherings were cancelled. Every-thing ground to a halt, but our community needs did not. Together with staff and clergy, we began a monthly food drive which has provided tons of food and monetary support for our local food banks. We figured out how to support East Valley Men’s Center and Family Promise in new and safe ways. Even our monthly Episcopal Church Women (ECW) lunches, became Zoom lunches with friends joining us from all over the country.
Change does not need to be treated as a four-letter word; and the pandemic has definitely changed the way I do things. Each day brings new challeng-es and new skills to learn to keep my community connected. Pivoting and opening new doorways has provided me with an opportunity to further grow spiritually, and to share in God’s love and kingdom.