“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing . . . widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘. . . Brothers and sisters, choose seven . . . 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. . . . So the word of God spread.” (Acts 6)
Why Stephen Ministry? Do you know someone who recently received a pink slip? Do you have a friend or associate who suddenly has become a full-time caregiver to parent or spouse? Is someone reeling from an unexpected divorce or the death of a loved one? Is a member of the parish having trouble adjusting to am empty nest? Has someone lost a spouse or child to violence or self-destruction? Do you know anyone who is having trouble facing or addressing a momentous life decision? Is there anyone in our parish who is dying, being treated for life-threatening illness, or convalescing from serious illness or injury? These people could use a Stephen Minister.
What is a Stephen Minister? Most simply, a Stephen Minister is a loving person who is equipped through 50 hours of training and supportive supervision to provide uniquely Christian spiritual care to people in need. Stephen Ministers are provided the spiritual, counseling, and referral tools and continuing support to share God’s love and embrace during times of loss, grief, recovery, and personal challenge. Stephen Ministers do not provide individual pastoral calls but are assigned single care receivers with whom they meet at least semi-weekly over an extended period of time. Care receivers self-identify, and all care relationships are totally confidential within the congregation and even within the care support group.
Aren’t others at St. Mary’s already meeting these needs? Stephen Ministers extend, but do not replace, the pastoral service of ordained clergy and other lay ministries. Stephen Ministers do not take Eucharist, provide physical or medical care, offer pastoral counseling, or “fix” problems. They certainly do not substitute for the remarkable work of our deacons. Stephen Ministers simply bring God’s loving embrace (and ear) to those who need it most for as long as they need it. Often Stephen Ministers are needed most by people who are not themselves directly suffering, but are caring for those who are. Stephen Ministers are present before or after a life-changing or life-threatening event, and they can remain with their care receivers for as long as two years. Stephen Ministers simply multiply the opportunities for God to be present through his people where needed most.
What is the Stephen Ministries© Organization? Founded in 1975 by the Rev. Kenneth C. Haugk, a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor, Stephen Ministries© is a nondenominational nonprofit that organizes,trains, and supports a national network of parish-based Christian care giving. Over 11,000 congregations from 160 denominations have trained 65,000 Stephen Ministers throughout the country. There are over 840 Stephen Minister congregations in California, including the Episcopal churches in Novato, Berkeley, Menlo Park, and Danville. The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin currently is the only Stephen Ministry church of any denomination in San Francisco. Read more: https://www.stephenministries.org/stephenministry/default.cfm/917.
Are you called to be a Stephen Minister? Do you believe that your baptismal covenant calls you to care for the wounded, offer solace to the suffering, and uplift those in time of trial, loss, confusion, and upheaval? Do you believe that God’s grace begins with you? Do you feel called to witness to God’s love in the most intimate, personal, and supportive way? Then you may be called to become a Stephen Minister. Without making any commitment, if you are interested in exploring this ministry further, please contact David Crosson at 408-316-0478 or [email protected]. .