What is the Stephen Ministry? It is a trained lay, caring ministry in which one person reaches out to another in time of need. It is a commitment to caring and supporting one another, to build a Christ-centered, sharing relationship. It is a meaningful way for our church to share one another's burdens and joys. It is a ministry which is already working in many congregations throughout the country. It is a ministry named after St. Stephen, the first deacon in the early church, who was commissioned by the apostles to care for the community's needs.
What kinds of needs will the Stephen Ministry address? People who are grieving the loss of a loved one. People who are chronically ill. People who are lonely. People who are depressed. People who are separated or in process of divorce. People who are dying, as well as the families of those who are terminally ill. People experiencing job change, loss, or financial difficulties. People who are having difficulty adjusting to a new community. People and families experiencing crisis in new parenthood. People and families in conflict or crisis throughout parenting experiences -- early childhood to adolescence.
What preparations do the Stephen Ministers make in order to begin their service? A Stephen Ministry training program prepares interested men and women to become Stephen Ministers, equipping them to care for the many needs in our community. Their 50 hours of training includes topics such as: - confidentiality - listening - focusing on feelings - crisis theory and intervention - telecare - use of prayer and the Bible - being professional - the "small step" approach - grief, divorce, depression, older persons, stress, etc. - assertiveness training Following training, the Stephen Ministers are commissioned by our church into active, caring ministries. The Stephen Minister will work in continual consultation with church clergy and receive ongoing education in the helping ministry. What the Stephen Minister is not. A professional counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist. A social worker. An expert in law, finance, church doctrine, etc. An ordained minister or deacon.
"I didn't know what to expect from my Stephen Minister, but he put me at ease. I had a friend I could trust and who really cared about me. My helper showed me how to work things out for myself and had the patience to let me do it." "When I really needed a friend, my Stephen Minister was there. We cried together a lot, prayed together, talked, and now we laugh together." "I wanted answers and she asked questions. She knew how to see things a new way, and her questions helped me find my own answers. I thought God had forgotten me, but my Stephen Minister helped me grow closer to God." "I wish the whole world was made up of people like my helper... Christians with God's own heart."
If you are in need of a Stephen Minister or know someone who is, or if you would like to learn more about the program, call the First Presbyterian Church office, at (252) 247-2202