What is Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministry is a program of lay pastoral caregiving founded by the Rev. Kenneth C. Haugk in 1975. A Lutheran in charge of a growing church in St. Louis, Pastor Haugk noticed that he was unable to meet all the pastoral care needs in his congregation by himself. He developed an intensive training for laypeople interested in offering emotional and spiritual support to parish members going through difficult transitions. He trained and commissioned several laypeople to support co-parishoners during difficult transitions. The caregivers and care receivers met in weekly, one on one, confidential encounters. Since the success of his program, Stephen Ministry has grown into a national ecumenical ministry. More than 11,000 congregations are enrolled in Stephen Ministry in over 150 denominations.
What is Stephen Ministry at St. Mark’s?
Stephen Ministry at St. Mark’s links trained Stephen Ministers to parishioners in need. Our program shares resources with the Stephen Ministry program at First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn. We have eight trained Stephen Ministers at St. Mark’s and many more available from First Congregational. At any given time, several trained caregivers are meeting weekly with care receivers for support during times of transition. Our parish leadership believes there are wonderful opportunities for growth in this program.
Who might benefit from a Stephen Minister?
Everyone experiences difficult transitions in life. Perhaps it’s the loss of a job. Perhaps it’s the death of a loved one. Maybe the responsibilities of family, work and community life seem overwhelming. A trained caregiver can benefit someone experiencing divorce, isolation, caretaking fatigue or any number of life’s struggles. Someone with significant mental health needs would not be an appropriate match for a Stephen Minister; Stephen Ministers are not substitutes for professional counselors.
Why is it called Stephen Ministry?
Stephen holds a special place in Church observance. We learn about his life from both the book of Acts and Church tradition. In Acts 6, the Apostles commission Stephen for ministry after they realize they cannot meet all the needs of the fledgling Christian community. Acts describes Stephen as a “man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.” His strong faith and selfless service to others make him an appropriate model for the kind of caring ministry required of Stephen Ministers. Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches name Stephen the first deacon and first martyr in Christian history. His feast day is December 26th.
How would I learn more?
For more detailed information, please visit http://www.stephenministries.org/stephenministry/default.cfm/900
How do I become a caregiver or a care receiver?
Please contact Fr. George Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 858-1020, ext. 222 if you have questions or further interest in Stephen Ministry at St. Mark’s.