Shepherd Ministry

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Cynthia Kathy


For Cynthia Montello and Kathie Wright, being a member of the Shepherd Ministry is all about loving others 

By Kerry Baldwin

The Shepherd ministry is part of the Our Saviour pastoral care team and consists of several members of the Our Saviour congregation who are assigned as “shepherds” to other church members. Typically serving about 100 people, shepherds are an extension of the Our Saviour staff, acting as another resource for church members. Shepherds check in on their “flock” periodically via calls, emails, texts, or cards, and are there to provide friendship, offer additional connection to the church, as well as support in times of grief or trouble.  

For Cynthia, becoming a shepherd one year ago fulfilled a gaping hole after transitioning to retirement three years ago. She had built a top-10 ad agency in Jacksonville (the Montello Agency) along with her husband Howard, as well as burned the midnight oil working with drug addicts at City Rescue Mission for 16 years and AIDS patients in prison for 10 years. Her prison work grew into a “full blown” ministry reaching over 3000 men in nine prisons via a Bible study newsletter. “I’d rather my time be spent with the broken and people that really need me. My calling was always in evangelism, spreading the word of God and that's what drove me to the prisons and telling people about Jesus.” 

Despite acknowledging that it was time to take some well-deserved rest from her 35-year business and ministry work that kept her “burning at both ends” she “had a void, a really big void that I could physically feel. I needed to do something so I got involved in Bible study and the Intercessory Prayer Team but it still wasn’t enough.”

Cynthia's path to Our Saviour involves some history. While still attending another local church, she had been coming to a women's Bible group at Our Saviour which she found when doing a Google search. “We lived in Mandarin for thirty-two years and were looking for a new church closer to home. We came to Our Saviour after I read ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’. I was doing some research on Harriet Beecher Stowe and when I found out that Our Saviour was founded by Stowe and her husband, Howard and I came to a service and fell in love with the church and the people.”

At the time, Cynthia was not familiar with the Shepherd program but as a member of the Intercessory prayer team, she heard the Shepherds being lifted up in prayer. “My ears perked up when we were praying so immediately after I asked about the program and if I could be one.”

So how has it been for Cynthia during her first year of being a shepherd? “It’s been good for me because God is filling that void. There are plenty of people, out of my 97, that just need love and need to talk. I’m getting to know people and develop relationships with them. Daily I ask God to open the door for me where I have the opportunity to talk to somebody on my shepherd list and He does - it’s incredible! Someone will email or call or I will run into them at church. Sometimes people have a specific need or a specific prayer request. God always keeps providing these opportunities for people on my list.”  

A member of Our Saviour for twenty-six years, Kathie recalls being asked to become a Shepherd five years ago. “I don’t know how I was chosen or what I was getting into, but Sarah asked me and so I joined.” 

Kathie considers herself a caretaker at heart. For her, being a shepherd “enriches me so much. I feel I can make a difference. I am more of a giver than a taker and I think that feeds into the way I've always lived my life. I’ve always been in ‘caretaker mode’ and this is a continuation of that but in a different fashion.” 

While Kathie didn’t necessarily have any specific career preparation or background specific to pastoral care ministry, she says “I don't think you can teach anybody because it has to come from the heart.”  

The importance of the Shepherd ministry is felt by both women. 

“I feel like this is an important piece that we all do as shepherds. We’re the touch that sometimes the church or priest can’t provide” said Kathie. Cynthia notes that “It’s a different experience in this church. It's a different vibe that exists here and the foundation is absolute love. I haven’t really felt that in other places like I do here.”

Kathie and Cynthia agree on what it takes to be a shepherd providing pastoral care. For Kathie it’s “Time and trust. Those two things are really important and being that ‘extra’ person in someone’s life. Just know that I’m your other person you can always call.” And for Cynthia “The most important thing is that you have a heart for loving people. It’s God working through you - it’s not about the shepherds at all, it’s God using us to reach His people. I think it's a very fulfilling ministry.”

Please visit our Shepherds page for more information

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