Compassion: Deeply Sharing the Suffering of Another . . . Together With the Inclination to Give Aid or Support as we look at Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, we observe the ultimate example of compassion. He now calls us to follow His example and to be deeply concerned for one another.
Stephen Ministry is a ministry filled with compassion. It provides compassionate Christians with a place where they can use those gifts in ministry as a Stephen Minister. Stephen Ministry is the way we do caring ministry in our church. Pastors will always be the primary caregivers, but it is not possible for pastors to meet all the needs for continuing care. God has called all of us to minister to one another. In Stephen Ministry trained and supervised lay persons provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing life challenges or difficulties.
Stephen Ministers are caregivers.. They train for fifty hours--every Monday evening from early January until mid-May--on topics including listening skills, assertiveness, using Christian resources, ministering to the divorced, ill, and bereaved. First Presbyterian Church has twenty-one currently active Stephen Ministers, and four more in the current training class.
Recently our entire team had a one-day training retreat at St Pius X Center in Blackwood. The ‘old’ Stephen Ministers receive continuing education, while the trainees completed several of their instructional modules, taught by Pastor Dick Herman. We also enjoyed the lovely, woodsy setting and time to fellowship together.
Stephen Ministry began in 1975, when Kenneth Haugk, pastor and clinical psychologist, wanted to multiply the caregiving in his Midwest congregation. Our church is one of more than 10,000 Stephen Ministry congregations from more than 100 denominations, and we benefit from continuing education and support resources provided by the parent organization in St. Louis.
Stephen Ministers are not counselors or therapists; they are trained lay caregivers. Their role is to listen, to care, to pray, to walk alongside someone else for a season of life. Care receivers are people from our church or community who are experiencing any of an endless number of life difficulties, such as grief, job loss, chronic illness, relocation, divorce. All aspects of the Stephen Ministry relationship are confidential, and even the existence of the relationship will not be acknowledged by the Stephen Minister.
Jan Amos is our Stephen Leader who coordinates referrals. If you or someone you know could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, you can talk to Jan, to one of our pastors, or to any of our other Stephen Ministers. (If you want to talk about Stephen Ministry for someone else, make sure you get his or her permission first.)
As our ministry has grown we need more individuals to train for Stephen Ministry. Stephen Ministers make a two-year commitment, so when trained Stephen Ministers goes on ‘sabbatical’ we must prepare others to take their place. To find out more about becoming a Stephen Minister, talk to Jan Amos, Jim Cole, Pastor Dick Herman, Lissa Herman, Ed Miller, Joann Nawrocki, Marion Norcross, or Vic Volzone, members of our Stephen Leader team.
For more information, call Jan Amos at 856-234-0942 or Pastor Dick Herman at 856-235-1688.