Stephen Ministers – Answering the Need for Care

Stephen Ministers are lay people gifted and trained in listening, supporting, and offering pastoral care. They provide one-on-one intentional care by being present with anyone who needs a Christian friend and listener.

Each week, after each worship service, there is a Stephen Minister available in the prayer room near the chapel, to provide a listening ear and supportive care to anyone who needs a Christian friend and compassionate connection. You are invited and encouraged to come to the chapel and talk with us about this ministry and how it might support you!

Our Stephen Ministry team also periodically offers special events (caring workshops, Alzheimer’s & memory loss seminar, transitions training), designed to “put tools in the toolbox” of the congregation, enabling us all to be better caretakers and ministers to those around us.

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A Bit More About Our Ministry…

Stephen Ministers use the phrase “putting God’s love in action” as a way to describe their ministry of care and presence. These trained individuals often provide a listening ear, a tender heart, and a gentle touch to help people along the way. Stephen Ministry focuses on five different types of needs: crisis care, follow-up care, chronic care, preventive care, and supportive care.

Crisis care is the caring ministry people think about first in describing pastoral care. Persons in crisis may be dealing with hospitalization, a terminal illness, the death of a loved one, unemployment, divorce, a severe financial setback, a natural disaster, the aftermath of a fire, retirement, the stress of moving, or being a victim or perpetrator of a crime.

Follow-up care is commonly needed by people recovering from a major life crisis. Often when people go through a crisis they receive a lot of attention and support. The church, family, neighbors, and others will be there to help. What about a couple of months later? Typically the level of attention, support, and care drops off, but the person’s need for care may well grow. That’s why the follow-up care that Stephen Ministers provide is so valuable. They focus on one care receiver, so their attention isn’t drawn away by another need for care. They can continue the caring relationship for as long as the care receiver needs it.

Chronic care is for a long-term problem; chronic illness or suffering can be like a crisis that never ends. Chronic sufferers have learned to live with major problems that can detract significantly from the quality of life. A stigma or shame can be attached to being chronically ill. People can feel that they have somehow brought this on themselves. Persons in need of chronic care include those who are disabled, aged, in nursing homes, homebound, experiencing chronic painsuch as arthritis, or living with degenerative diseases.

Preventive care helps people anticipate and prepare for potentially difficult upcoming events. It is based on the belief that the negative impact of crises can be lessened or even averted by talking through feelings and clarifying expectations prior to an anticipated event. This can help individuals come to a realistic picture of what an upcoming event will be like and to prepare for it emotionally, physically and spiritually. Preventive care can be helpful in situations such as these: a woman is expecting her first child, an executive is approaching retirement, a young person getting married in two months, a high school graduate goes off to college or the military.

Supportive care is caring for the care-giver. A Stephen Minister can provide vital support to anyone facing the challenge of caring for a loved one who is going through a life crisis or transition. Persons who need supportive care include a man caring for his dying wife, woman considering placing her elderly parent in a long-term care facility, parent of a special-needs child, son or daughter supporting a parent through the death and funeral of the other parent, parent supporting an adult child through the pain of divorce. In discovering needs for care Stephen Leaders need to look beyond the most obvious needs to see how one individual’s crisis can become a crisis for many. Frequently attention is focused on the person who clearly needs care that others who are in pain do not receive the nurture and support they need. Stephen Ministers often stand alongside those in crisis, helping caregivers to remain strong and feel supported.