What Is Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministry helps meet the needs of individuals who are …
- terminally ill;
- in a job crisis;
- new members of the church or community;
- recently divorced;
- in a crisis with a family member;
- in a spiritual crisis
- looking for trained, caring Christian friend, called a Stephen Minister.
The Stephen Ministry is by no means unique to Methodist churches. It is a part of many congregations of Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, and other denominations across the country. In fact, I first heard about Stephen ten years ago from my own sister-in-law, an Episcopalian from California.
As widespread as the Stephen Ministry is, however, it seems to me that it has a particularly good fit with Methodism and Methodist principles. Many of us who have laughed at Garrison Keilor’s humorous portrayal of Methodists as singers of four part harmony and eaters of macaroni and cheese have also felt some secret pride when he says “…these Methodists who like to sing in four part harmony are the sorts of people you could call up when you are in deep distress. If you are dying they will comfort you. If you are lonely they will talk to you. If you are hungry, they will give you a tuna salad!”
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, exhorts us to lead a life of love and to do good in all the ways that we can. In his view, no one is perfect, but we can all strive to live a life like that of Jesus, to demonstrate the love of others that we would wish to receive.
The Stephen Ministers in this congregation have committed to do the best they can to support others in distress by being present, listening and sharing a care receiver’s burden. They don’t proselytize, but they strive to be the kind of presence they themselves would like to have in their own times of trial. If you are going through one of the ‘rough patches’ that all of us encounter in our busy, complex lives and would like someone to share the load for a while, consider speaking to one of our pastor’s to see if talking to a Stephen Minister would be appropriate.
- a child of God who walks beside a person who is hurting;
- a caring Christian visitor who really listens;
- a lay person who has received at least 50 hours of training in how to provide distinctly Christian care
A Stephen Minister IS NOT …
- a counselor or therapist;
- a problem-solver;
- a casual friend or visitor
Want to Know More About Stephen Ministry and How it Works?
Watch these PBS interviews which were aired in April, 2010 from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.
If you need a Stephen Minister yourself,contact Molly Dee Rounsley, Stephen Leaders 610.692.5190