The Gift of Presence

A Guide to Helping Those Who Suffer

Book - Paperback
The Gift of Presence
Paperback ISBN: 9781426702143
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E-Book ISBN: 9781426724732
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Published August 2009

An indispensable guide for clergy and laity serving people in grief.

"Near the end of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, there is a word that has continued to stay with me. He said, 'The world breaks everyone. Then some become strong at the broken places.' As a pastor, I have seen people become strong at the broken places, and I have seen people become broken up at the broken places of life. I hope that the reader will learn how to assist those who are suffering, and will, at the same time, learn something of great value for living in these days." - Author Joe Pennel

Unfortunately, suffering is a part of living. None of us have escaped this fact. Even so, it's difficult to know how to console someone going through a broken place.

In The Gift of Presence, Bishop Joe Pennel offers practical help to give confidence and skill to clergy and laity serving the broken hearted. With a central message on the importance of simply being there, Pennel combines practical "how-to's" with prayers, readings, and services. This small, casebound book outlines real ways to help through planning visits, writing notes, finding scriptures and prayers to read, avoiding cliches, and thinking through the theology of God, humans, and suffering.

The Gift of Presence includes pertinent topics such as: the ministry of presence, quietness, sincerity, and the art of helping.

"I found Bishop Pennel's book to be concisely written, compassionately expressed, extremely helpful tool for anyone in relationship with someone suffering. Because all of us will be in such a relationship at some time in our life, [The Gift of Presence]would be a great read in preparation for life's difficult events." - Rev. Lori Lampert, Lead Associate Pastor, Schweitzer UMC, Springfield, Missouri

" [The Gift of Presence]is both practical and contemplative encouraging the reader to remember why we are in ministry but also to pay attention to how we engage in ministry. I would definitely recommend this to any Stephen Minister program. We also have a Lay Counseling program where it would be very helpful. Frankly it would have been a wonderful book to receive before I started making hospital visits as a new pastor. Bishop Pennel has given us his gift of presence in the writing of this book. I appreciated his willingness to share his own stories of ministry and life as well as the knowledge he has gathered from several years of practical experience." - Rev. Barbara Miner, Assoc. Pastor, Floris UMC, Herndon, Virginia

"I appreciated the sample letters and prayers found in The Gift of Presence. The chapters on 'Seven Simple Do's and Don'ts' and 'Common Responses to Suffering' will be helpful to Stephen Ministers."  - Rev. Rick Plain, Minister of Pastoral Care, Los Altos UMC, Los Altos, California

About the Author

Joe E. Pennel JR.

Joe E. Pennel, Jr. was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from Lambuth University and Vanderbilt University Divinity School.
He served as pastor in local churches in Memphis and Nashville over a period of thirty years. Then, in 1996, Pennel was assigned Bishop of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church where he served for eight years.
Now retired, he continues to serve as a vibrant teacher, preacher, and member of the Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville as the Professor of Pastoral Leadership where he shares his experience and heart for ministry with a new generation of church leaders. Joe and his wife Janene reside in Franklin, Tennessee.