First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg
Diaconate

Stephen Ministry was featured on PBS - April 9, 2010. Click here to read the article.
PBS


For more information, please contact Beth Cecil (583-4531 / bcecil@fpcspartanburg.org

Diaconate - Stephen Ministry

CHRIST CARING FOR PEOPLE THROUGH PEOPLE

What is the Stephen Ministry?
It is a group of laypersons that have received over 50 hours of training in how to be an empathetic listener. It emphasizes God as the caregiver, with Stephen Ministers as caregivers, not caretakers.

What is its purpose?
At any given time, many people in our congregation and community are experiencing loss, grief, and threatening changes in their lives. When we experience such events, we sorely need someone to listen to our feelings. Listening is a powerful component of the healing process. Unfortunately, family and close friends are often too emotionally involved to best serve this need. Christianity is a hands-on-religion, and we are called to reach out - to be a friend in need. Stephen Ministers are trained to be totally confidential, sensitive, non-judgmental listeners.

Will someone come and preach to me?
There are many people who have profound faith, yet are not comfortable talking about their religion. The Stephen Ministry certainly draws upon Christian resources for guidance and support, but at the same time, it does not preach.

What type of people are involved in the Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministers are men and women who have a wide range of life experience to share. The group includes all ages - from 20's to senior citizens including: married, divorced, single, parents, single parents, professionals, retired, widowed, and homemakers.

How would a Stephen Minister work with me?
Once you have expressed an interest in considering the help of a Stephen Minister, an appropriate person is assigned to make contact. This will be someone of the same sex, and as close as possible in age and background. The Stephen Minister will call and arrange a convenient time to meet - generally within the week. After the first meeting, you will usually meet once a week for about an hour each time. It will be an evolving, trust-building process in which you, the care receiver, choose the way in which you can best be helped.

What if I just do not like the Stephen Minster assigned to me?

In all human relationships, there is an intangible "chemistry" which depends upon the fit between two unique personalities. The Stephen Ministry strives to arrange a good fit, but there will be occasions when this does not happen. If so, it is a reflection on neither the caregiver, nor the care receiver. Should this happen, you should immediately contact the Pastor of Congregational Care or a Stephen Leader so that another Stephen Minister can be assigned.

What is the history of the Stephen Ministry?
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit; also Phillip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas . . . Acts 6:1-5

In 1975, Dr. Kenneth Haugk began what has become a nationwide Stephen Ministry program. It is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri and is being used in over 50 denominations throughout the U.S., Canada, and abroad.

A STEPHEN MINISTER IS:
-a layperson
-caring
-compassionate
-willing to listen
-accepting
-trained
-confidential

A STEPHEN MINISTER HELPS THOSE WHO ARE:
-hospitalized
-terminally ill
-in family crisis
-bereaved
-in job crisis
-lonely or depressed
-experiencing personal crisis
-single parents
-experiencing broken relationships
-and more

A STEPHEN MINISTER IS NOT:
-a professional counselor or psychologist
-a social worker providing lots of physical services
-an expert in law, finance, church doctrine, etc.
-a brief, superficial visitor, "touching base" with people now and then

How do I contact a Stephen Minister or become a Stephen Minister?

Please call the church office (583-4531) for more information.

Updated February 21, 2012

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