Last year we began a program called Stephen Ministry. While some of you are aware of this ministry and its purpose, others of you may not be. In an effort to make more people aware of the opportunities for help and encouragement that exist through this ministry, I hope the following discussion will prove enlightening.
David: Mark, what is the Stephen Ministry program?
Mark: Stephen Ministry is a lay led, one-on-one, same sex, confidential care giving relationship through prayer, love, listening, encouragement and faithfully visiting to provide help, hope and healing to persons going through times of difficulty or stress in their life. Galatians 6:2 says we should “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. This ministry is one of the many ways we are trying to meet the needs of the congregation by loving them as we seek to love God completely and love our neighbor as ourselves.
David: What exactly is a Stephen Minster?
Mark: Stephen Minsters are volunteer members of our congregation, men and women, who have been called by the Holy Spirit to this ministry and who are specifically trained for this role. Stephen Ministers are trained across a broad area of needs where care may be required. In fact, speaking of their training, a candidate needs to go through over 50 hours of training before they can become a Stephen Minister. Given this level of commitment, I’m especially pleased that we have 11 women & 6 men who are certified to serve in this way.
David: What does a Stephen Minister do?
Mark: A Stephen Minister, which is also called a care giver at times, will meet with their care receiver, the person needing help, hope and healing, weekly for an hour for as many weeks as is required for the care receiver to overcome their situation.
David: What impact have we seen thus far by this ministry?
Mark: Feedback from care receivers has been tremendous thus far. One care receiver said this of their Stephen Minister – “I couldn’t have done it without her…she is now a part of my family.”
David: Have you experienced any difficulties with this ministry?
Mark: The main obstacle has been a lack of awareness about the program and understanding that Stephen Ministers are here to help. They aren’t counselors, but as the testimony I just gave shows, they really can be an effective source for encouragement, prayer and support.
David: In parting, what else would you like to say about Stephen Ministry?
Mark: If you need help, hope or healing, which we all need at times, seek out a Stephen Minister to provide care for you. Our Stephen Ministers are compassionate, skilled and caring individuals who are available to help you. Allow them to fulfill their giftedness and thus meet your needs, as Christ states in John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
To inquire about or request a Stephen Minister, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.