Where do you turn for help when you get life-altering news: a death in the family, a job loss, a divorce or facing serious personal struggles in life? Who will be there after the initial emergency is over, providing a shoulder to lean on for the long term?
At Christ Church, Stephen Ministers provide spiritual accompaniment through the challenging journeys in life. They foster one-to-one caregiver relationships with parishioners experiencing difficult times in their lives. The program, headquartered in Missouri, began over 30 years ago to train lay people in assisting with pastoral care. Today over 9,000 congregations of all denominations offer Stephen Ministry care to all people.
Parishioner Leo Warner has been a Stephen Minister since December 2016. “I was worried about what I would say or do when I met my first care receiver, in fact scared,” he says.
But Leo felt God’s presence at a meeting with his new care receiver. “God guided me and helped me gain the confidence I needed to help a man that needed to hear the Word and listen to his concerns.”
A lot of Leo’s inspiration comes from the other Stephen Ministers. “They give me the confidence that I can help others,” he adds. “This program helps people in need and hopefully gets them through a rough time in their life.”
Some people describe Stephen Ministers as “after people” – they are there “after the doctors have said, ‘There’s nothing more we can do,’ ” or “after the phone call you’d always hoped you’d never get,” or “after you arrive home following the funeral service and the emotions you’ve held at bay come crashing in on you.”
If you are feeling burdened or overwhelmed, the Stephen Ministry is here to help you. A Stephen Minister is a trained, lay member of the congregation who, as a caring and supportive Christian, is always available for you in times of illness, grief or crisis.
A Stephen Minister will:
- Visit with you regularly, at mutually beneficial times and places
- Be absolutely confidential
- Offer referrals and resources as needed
- Pray for you
- Offer Christian love and support
For more information on the Stephen Ministry, please call The Rev. Wendy Billingslea at (904) 285-6127 or Karol Mantz (904) 710-6776.