Stephen Ministry - 

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ
(Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

Stephen Ministry provides the training, tools, and support that helps our congregation train a team of lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—who provide one-to-one, Christian care to people experiencing grief, divorce, job loss, hospitalization, and other life difficulties.  A Stephen Ministry congregation receives a practical and powerful way to respond to Christ’s commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Stephen Ministry also helps Pastor Deb with a team of gifted, trained, and committed lay caregivers ready to minister to hurting people, while Stephen Ministers nurture and use their gifts in meaningful ministry, growing spiritually as they serve others.  If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Stephen Minister, contact Deb Jones at msjonesncc@gmail.com or 570-233-7675 or Pastor Deb, or visit the Stephen Ministries website at https://www.stephenministries.org/stephenministry/default.cfm/917?mnbsm=1

Update - November 2022:

Ministry is not just the role of the clergy—the opportunity and responsibility has been given to all Christians.  God gives spiritual gifts to each of us-faith, mercy, teaching the faith, encouragement, and listening.  We pass these gifts along by using them to serve others.  Do one or more of these gifts describe you? Are you a caring, compassionate person?  Are you a good listener?  Do you enjoy helping those in need?  If your answer is yes, please consider becoming a Stephen Minister.

We are actively looking for people to train as Stephen Ministers. Training will be on Tuesdays from 6:30 PM -8:30 PM beginning in January and ending in May.  New Stephen Ministers will be commissioned in May which will allow them to be assigned a care receiver.  The Stephen Minister then meets with his/her care receiver once a week for an hour for as long as the care receiver needs this ministry.  A Stephen Minister also meets for supervision and continuing education twice a month after commissioning.

Our current Stephen Ministers have begun to meet some of the needs of our congregation and we thank God for the gift of their ministry.  Their training has given them the knowledge and skills to provide one-to-one Christian care to those in need.  But more Stephen Ministers are needed to minister care receivers in our congregation.  Please pray for the Holy Spirit to move those to serve as Stephen Ministers and keep your heart open to God’s calling for yourself to hear God’s call.  To learn more, feel free to talk with Marty Kellow, Anita Urso, Deb Jones, or Pastor Deb about Stephen Ministry training and being matched to a care receiver.  You can contact any of these people through the church office.
 

Update - October 2022:

The After People

People often ask, “What exactly is a Stephen Minister?” One way to put it is that Stephen Ministers are the After People.

Stephen Ministers are there:
* after the phone call you hoped you’d never get.
* after the funeral, when everyone has left and the emotions you’ve held at bay come crashing in on you.
* after the relationship falls apart and the bottom falls out of your life.
* after the doctor says, “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing more we can do.”
* after the nursing home director shakes your hand and says, “Welcome to your new home.”
* after the last child honks the horn, waves, and drives away—and the house suddenly seems empty.
* after the gavel comes down, the handcuffs go on, and your loved one is led away.
* after the baby arrives, demanding more of you than you ever dreamed possible.
* after you find a pink slip with your final paycheck.
* after your family and friends have heard your story one too many times, but you still need to talk it out.

Stephen Ministers are the After People. They are ready to come alongside you to provide comfort and support for as long after as needed.  

James tells us that the prayers of righteous people are powerful and effective (James 5:16). During the coming month, we invite you to pray for our congregation’s Stephen Ministry, especially for God to touch the hearts of those called to serve as Stephen Ministers.  For more information please see Deb Jones or Pastor Deb.

Update - September 2022
What Does a Stephen Minister Do?

A Stephen Minister provides one-to-one, lay Christian Care:

* One-to-one: Each Stephen Minister is matched with one care receiver of the same gender.  The two meet in person, typically once a week for about an hour, in a setting they have both agreed on.  The caring relationship will be brought to closure when the need for care has been addressed.

* Lay: Stephen Ministers are well trained, supervised volunteers who provide a high level of care.  They are not professional caregivers.  Their role is different from that of a counselor, therapist, pastor, or physician.

* Christian: A Stephen Minister’s care is an expression of Christ’s love and an extension of the pastoral care we offer at Christ Lutheran-Conyngham.  When it comes to spiritual matters, Stephen Minsters meet their care receives where they are, helping them work through challenges without pressuring them or enforcing faith on them.

* Care: Stephen Ministers care by listening, supporting, praying, and helping their care receivers explore feelings without being judgmental, while offering emotional and spiritual support. Their role does not include providing other types of assistance such as shopping, transportation, childcare, and other such types of help, although at times they may help care receivers identify ways to fill those needs.

We ask you to continue to pray for our Stephen Ministers and to help those with the gifts for this ministry to hear God’s calling and step forward so that we may reach out with compassion to those who need it most.  You can contact Deb Jones or Pastor Deb through the church office for more information.

Update - July 2022
Ministry is not just the role of the clergy—the opportunity and responsibility has been given to all Christians.  God gives spiritual gifts to each of us-faith, mercy, teaching the faith, encouragement, and listening.  We pass these gifts along by using them to serve others.  Do one or more of these gifts describe you? Are you a caring, compassionate person?  Are you a good listener?  Do you enjoy helping those in need?  If your answer is yes, please consider becoming a Stephen Minister.

Becoming a Stephen Minister is a 2-year commitment.  Training will be held once a week for about 2 hours from September to December.  Day and time will be determined by the participants.  Once training is over, the person will be commissioned as a Stephen Minister and assigned a care receiver.  The Stephen Minister then meets with his/her care receiver once a week for an hour for as long as the care receiver needs this ministry.  A Stephen Minister also meets for supervision and continuing education twice a month after commissioning.

Our current Stephen Ministers have begun to meet some of the needs of our congregation, and we thank God for the gift of their ministry.  Their training has given them the knowledge and skills to provide one-to-one Christian care to those in need.  But more Stephen Ministers are needed.  Please pray that the Holy Spirit calls on those to serve as Stephen Ministers.  To learn more, feel free to talk with Marty Kellow, Anita Urso, Deb Jones, or Pastor Deb about Stephen Ministry training and being matched to a care receiver.  You can contact any of these people through the church office.

Update - May 2022
In April Diana Jessel was commissioned as a Stephen Minister by Pastor Deb and Deb Jones.  Our Stephen Ministers also prepared to begin their journey with their caregivers.  As trained lay caregivers, their role is to listen, understand, accept, pray for and with their caregiver.  They will use Christian caregiving, along with their listening, feelings, boundaries, and assertiveness skills to help their caregiver through their situation.  They also participated in supervision and continuing education, which occurs twice a month.  In supervision, Stephen Ministers provide and receive support, encouragement, and accountability for each other as they continue to provide high quality care.  Continuing education helps Stephen Ministers continue to hone and develop additional caregiving skills.  We ask for your continued prayers as Marty, Anita, and Diana prepare to care for others in our congregation.

Please plan to join us on May 15 for Stephen Ministry Sunday.  During the services we will celebrate Stephen Ministry and how God is working through our Stephen Ministers.

Update - April 2022
March was an exciting month for our Stephen Ministry.  Our Stephen Ministers ended their initial training with the last two sessions—How to Make a First Caring Visit and Go-God Is with You.  These sessions summarized everything they had learned during the last 6 months and applied it to practicing how to get their first caring visit off to a strong, healthy start, as well as reviewing and inspiring each other as they prepared for the next stage in their caregiving journey.  After signing their commitment and readiness to represent our congregation as Stephen Ministers, Marty Kellow and Anita Urso were commissioned during worship by Pastor Deb and Deb Jones.  

We ask you to continue to pray for their continued growth as Stephen Ministers and for their carereceivers and we thank God for their gifts as they carry the love of Christ to those who need it

CONGRATULATIONS - to Diana Jessel, Marty Kellow, and Anita Urso as they are commissioned on March 13 as our new Stephen Ministers. Their training over the last 6 months has provided them with the knowledge and skills to offer quality, distinctively Christian, one-to-one care to people suffering from many kinds of life difficulties. We ask God’s blessing on them and on their ministry in the weeks, months, and years ahead. We thank God for their gifts, and we ask God to work through them to bring help, hope, and healing to those in need.  Please join in welcoming them after the 10:30 service on March 13 in the parlor.

Update - March 2022
In February our trainees continued to enhance their caregiving skills, learning about depression and suicide.  They learned the signs of mild, moderate, and severe depression; how to care appropriately for someone with mild or moderate depression; and when and how to make a referral to a mental health professional. Stephen Ministers are never knowingly assigned to someone who is at possible risk of suicide, however, they learned to recognize the signs of suicidal ideation, determine the level of risk, and connect the care receiver to a qualified professional as needed.

Stephen Ministry relationships last until the care receiver no longer needs a Stephen Minister’s care. In another module the trainees explored how to know when it’s time to bring closure to a caring relationship and how to do so in a healthy way.

At a day long retreat, they learned about supervision, which will occur twice a month after the Stephen Ministers are commissioned and assigned a care receiver.  Supervision offers Stephen Ministers the support they need to offer distinctly Christian care.  They learned more about the kind of discussion that takes place in supervision while preserving confidentiality—and then had a chance to try out their skills in a practice supervision session.

Please continue to keep the trainees and leaders in your prayers as they learn to be equipped to bring Christ’s care to hurting people and continue to lift them up as they nurture their gifts and expand their knowledge as they grow in their ability to provide caring ministry on behalf of our congregation.  Please contact Deb Jones or Pastor Deb for information on Stephen Ministry or if you have any questions.

Update - February 2022
Training continues for our future Stephen Ministers.  Our classes in January started with learning about confidentiality, which is a crucial part of Stephen Ministry.  This important component is essential in order to build a safe environment of trust and acceptance between the Stephen Minister and the care receiver.

Our next class was “Caring between Visits: Caregiving and Communications Technology.”  This is important because while Stephen Ministry is primarily a face-to-face ministry, it may be necessary at times to use the phone and other communication tools to connect with a care receiver. We learned how to evaluate these tools and use them in ways that will enhance our ministry.

Next we covered “Using Mental Health Professionals and Other Community Resources.” This module, along with the book, "When and How to Use Mental Health Resources", prepared the trainees for situations when a care receiver may need a different kind of care other than what a Stephen Minister is equipped to provide.

Our last session for the month explored “Ministering to Those Experiencing Grief.” We learned about the different stages of grief, along with practical ways we can offer care at each stage. Grief is a situation everyone is likely to encounter at different times in life, so it’s a crucial way our Stephen Ministers will be able to offer care in our congregation.

Please continue to keep the trainees and leaders in your prayers as they learn to be equipped to bring Christ’s care to hurting people and continue to lift them up as they nurture their gifts and expand their knowledge as they grow in their ability to provide caring ministry on behalf of our congregation.  Please contact Deb Jones or Pastor Deb for information on Stephen Ministry or if you have any questions.

Update - January 2022
Over the last few weeks, our Stephen Minister trainees have been learning the process which will enable them to assist their care receivers.  “A Process Approach to Caring,” provided the key understanding that the most effective care giving happens when we focus on the process of care—not the results we hope to see. Stephen Ministers don’t fix the care receiver’s problems; instead, they continue providing the best possible care while relying on God to bring about the results.  We spent 2 weeks on “Assertiveness: Relating Gently and Firmly.” Looking at the Biblical foundation of assertiveness, we discussed and applied the principles of the book Speaking the Truth in Love: How to Be an Assertive Christian, which used Jesus as the model for assertive behavior. We finished up before breaking for the holidays with “Maintaining Boundaries in Caregiving” and “Crisis Theory and Practice.”  We learned about the importance of boundaries to protect ourselves and our care receivers while ensuring the best possible care.  Then we explored the effects of a crisis on people’s lives and how to help them move through the crisis toward greater wholeness.

Please continue to keep the trainees and leaders in your prayers as they learn to be equipped to bring Christ’s care to hurting people and continue to lift them up as they nurture their gifts and expand their knowledge as they grow in their ability to provide caring ministry on behalf of our congregation.  Please contact Deb Jones or Pastor Deb for information on Stephen Ministry or if you have any questions.

Update - December, 2021
Training enthusiastically continues into the second month. We have started our second book in the series entitled “Speaking the Truth in Love”. 
We are learning about passive, aggressive and assertive behaviors. Most of us will exhibit each of these behaviors, as Jesus did, but we are learning how to be assertive Christians as we better understand these behaviors.
As we grow, we trust we’ll be able to help and bring God’s cure-giving to those we hope to help.
We certainly appreciate your prayers as we continue forward in our studies.

UPDATE - November, 2021
Training for our Stephen Ministers began in October.  The first week of study, “The Person of the Caregiver,” was an introduction to the training ahead and exploring the Christ-centered foundation of Stephen Ministry.  In the following weeks we learned about “Feelings: Yours, Mine, and Ours” in which we explored how feelings are a gift from God and how to help people recognize, accept, and express feelings so they can experience God’s healing and wholeness. We also studied “The Art of Listening” which is an essential part of Stephen Ministry. We learned how to use a variety of active listening skills to help hurting people share what they’re going through and move toward healing. We ended the month with a day long retreat studying “Distinctively Christian Caring”.   This training focused on the essentials of using our Christian faith in caring for hurting people and learning practical ways to live out the reality that “The Stephen Minister is the caregiver, and God is the Curegiver.”

Please keep the trainees and leaders in your prayers as they learn to be equipped to bring Christ’s care to hurting people and continue to lift them up as they nurture their gifts and expand their knowledge as they grow in their ability to provide caring ministry on behalf of our congregation.  Please contact Deb Jones or Pastor Deb for information on Stephen Ministry or if you have any questions.

UPDATE - October, 2021
Congratulations to Diana Jessel, Marty Kellow, and Anita Urso for being selected as our first class of Stephen Ministers.  Following the training which begins in October, these women will be commissioned as Stephen Ministers to carry out ministries of caring within our congregation with people experiencing hospitalization, grief, divorce, job loss, and many other life crises.

One of the most powerful ways of affirming our Stephen Ministers is to pray for them. Whether you are thanking God for the gift of that person’s presence and friendship or asking God to care for and watch over them, we ask for your prayers as they undertake this new training. 

There is a cost to training our Stephen Ministers and running our Stephen Ministry.  If you would like to donate to help defray these costs, you can place any donations in the offering plate and mark it for Stephen Ministry.  For more information, contact Deb Jones at msjonesncc@gmail.com or 570-233-7675 or Pastor Deb. 

UPDATE - September 5, 2021
Deb Jones and Pastor Deb are in the process of selecting our first class of Stephen Ministers. Training will begin in October.  Over the next few months these future Stephen Ministers will receive extensive training in Christian caring skills. Some of the areas they will cover include listening effectively, addressing feelings, confidentiality, using the resources of Christianity, being assertive, and a number of topics dealing with specific life crises.

Throughout, the training will emphasize the theology of caring for the whole person.  We ask for your prayers as we select our Stephen Ministers and prepare them to provide one-to-one lay caring ministry to people experiencing life difficulties in our congregation and community.  

There is a cost to training our Stephen Ministers and running our Stephen Ministry.  If you would like to donate to help defray these costs, you can place any donations in the offering plate and mark it for Stephen Ministry.  For more information, contact Deb Jones at msjonesncc@gmail.com or 570-233-7675 or Pastor Deb.
 

STEPHEN MINISTRY

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ
(Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

Deb Jones and Pastor Deb attended Stephen Leader training through Zoom in June.  We will be sharing information about Stephen Ministry through the bulletin and newsletter each month. You are always welcome to ask either of us any questions you have regarding our Stephen Ministry.  

Stephen Ministry provides the training, tools, and support that will help our congregation train a team of lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—who will then provide one-to-one, Christian care to people experiencing grief, divorce, job loss, hospitalization, and other life difficulties.  A Stephen Ministry congregation receives a practical and powerful way to respond to Christ’s commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Pastor Deb will have a team of gifted, trained, and committed lay caregivers ready to minister to hurting people, while the lay people will nurture and use their gifts in meaningful ministry, growing spiritually as they serve others.  For more information, contact Deb Jones at msjonesncc@gmail.com or 570-233-7675 or Pastor Deb.

 

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