Stephen Ministries St. Louis is a not-for-profit, interdenominational, religious and educational organization founded in 1975 by Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D., a pastor and clinical psychologist. The Stephen Series is a complete system for training and organizing laypeople to provide one-to-one Christian care to hurting people in and around the congregation. The name honors Stephen of the New Testament, the first layperson commissioned by the Apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need (Acts 6). A St. Louis staff of 40 provides support for the worldwide ministry in more than 10,000 congregations and for over 500,000 trained Stephen Ministers.
The Stephen Ministry Logo consists of a cross and circle, together with a broken person and a whole person. The broken person stands behind the cross, symbolizing the brokenness in our lives. The whole person stands in front of the cross because it is through following Jesus that we are made whole. The circle symbolizes both the wholeness we receive through Christ and God’s unending love for us.
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Stephen Ministry was featured on PBS on The PBS Religion & Ethics news show. This video describes how Stephen Ministry is changing lives in thousands of congregations.
FBCG joined the Stephen Series in 2012 and sent four volunteers for a one week Stephen Leader’s training course that prepared them to recruit and train laypeople from the congregation to serve as Stephen Ministers. Subsequently, eleven additional church members participated in 50 hours of education and experiential training in Christian caregiving. Topics included confidentiality, self-awareness, assertiveness training, listening skills, and how to minister to people in difficult situations including divorce, terminal illness, grief, job loss, infertility, and difficulties with childbirth. Training also taught how to recognize when a care receiver’s needs go beyond the care a Stephen Minister can provide and how to refer the care receiver for appropriate professional care.
On March 3, 2013, after completion of 2 1/2 hours of weekly training over a five month period, a group of fourteen people were commissioned at the end of the worship service as FBCG’s first Stephen Ministers. Most of them are now providing one-to-one Christian care to members of the congregation who are experiencing a crisis in their lives and have requested a relationship with a Stephen Minister. Referrals are still being accepted.*
Male caregivers are always assigned to male care receivers and female caregivers to female care receivers. A caregiver is assigned to only one care receiver at a time. Each partnership meets for about an hour weekly and normally continues up to a year or more. Both participants mutually determine when it is appropriate for the formal relationship to end, after which the caregiver will be offered assignment to a new care receiver. A caregiver commits to at least two years or service when they begin the program.
Stephen Ministers are not counselors and should not be referred to as such. Their role is to listen and care- not counsel or advise- and to “offer a cup of cold water” in the name of Jesus. What a care receiver tells a Stephen Minister remains confidential, except in the case of potential harm to himself or herself or to another person.
Stephen Ministry is a peer-supervised, confidential ministry. Stephen Ministers meet bi-monthly for supervision and continuing education. Supervision includes: reflection, mutual support, and prayer. But, even in supervision, names of care receivers and identifying details are never discussed. Only Stephen Leaders are aware of the people involved in each partnership, and Stephen Leaders are always available for one-on-one supervision in the event that an identity would be revealed if a specific situation were to be discussed with other members of the team.
Current active members of the Stephen Ministry team are listed below. Please contact any one for additional information or any questions that you might have about the ministry.
- Robin Barton (Stephen Leader)
- Carol Ann Bell
- Don Caldwell
- Gail Christopher
- Jeanette Cothran
- Wofford Green
- Hazel Harris
- Kathy Hughes
- Jane Ella Matthews
- Duke McCall
- Linda Russ
- Manuel Torres-Anjel
- Ann Quattlebaum (Stephen Leader)
Plans are underway to send two or three current Stephen Ministers for Stephen Leaders training this summer. Watch for an announcement of a new Stephen Ministers training session to begin in fall 2014 or spring 2015.
Upon new leaders becoming trained, FBC Greenville will offer opportunity for new candidates to consider training to become a Stephen Minister. Candidates are interviewed after application to clarify the best course of service for the candidate. Candidates chosen will work through 50 hours of training in the Stephen Series before the congregation commissions them as Stephen Ministers. Please alert Ann Quattlebaum and/or Robin Barton should you be interested in applying for the next training class.
*A church member in need may request a Stephen Minister by completing a confidential referral card, sealing it in the envelope provided with the card, and mailing it or taking it to the Visitor’s Center next to the sanctuary of the church. A church member also can make a referral in like manner for another congregant - or a participant in the AYMC, FBC Kindergarten or the Infant- Toddler Program – after the identified person in need has given permission for the referral. When a referral arrives, the hostess on duty will contact a Stephen Leader. Upon receiving a referral, a Stephen Leader will schedule an assessment with the potential care receiver. If the individual is deemed appropriate for Stephen Ministry and not in need of more intensive professional care, she or he is asked to sign a covenant agreeing to prioritize participation. (All caregivers have signed a similar covenant.) A match is determined and the assigned caregiver then contacts the care receiver to introduce herself/himself and schedule a first meeting. There is not a guarantee that a Stephen Minister will always be available when need arises, although great effort will be made to match caregiver and care receiver.