Stephen Ministry

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What is Stephen Ministry?

Stephen Ministry is a one-to-one Christian lay caregiving ministry. Stephen Ministers are well-trained and supervised lay caregivers who receive 50 hours of training in the skills necessary for providing distinctively Christian care to individuals experiencing a crisis or going through a difficult time in life. Stephen Ministry is “Christ Caring for People Through People.”

Stephen Ministry at Unity

Unity Presbyterian Church enrolled in Stephen Ministry in early 2017 with the approval and full endorsement of the session. In April 2017, four individuals from our congregation – Debbie Matthews, Beverly Tysinger, John Young and the Reverend Jeannie Bickett – participated in a week-long Leader’s Training Course in St. Louis, Missouri to become equipped and commissioned as Stephen Leaders who will lead and direct Stephen Ministry at Unity. The training they received was thorough and intense.

Debbie Matthews said, “It was like drinking water from a fire hose, there was so much information! We had a great time, even though training sometimes lasted until 9:30 PM. We have come back excited and ready to get started training our first class of Stephen Ministers beginning in September.”

Jeannie Bickett stated, “The timing for beginning Stephen Ministry at Unity could not be better! With anticipated transitions in pastoral leadership, a cadre of well-trained lay caregivers can provide consistent and ongoing care for people who are hurting.”

Who Benefits From Stephen Ministry?

We all do! Pastors tell us that Stephen Ministry deepens, expands and extends the caregiving capacity of their congregations. As care receivers in our congregation and community grow stronger through this confidential, Christ-centered caring ministry, we all grow in faith and hope and love.

Care receivers may be individuals facing a variety of crises or life challenges – people who are experiencing grief, divorce, cancer, financial difficulties, relocation, a new baby, hospitalization, chronic illness, job loss, new job, empty nest, loneliness, a spiritual crisis, or other significant life experiences. They may just feel overwhelmed.

How Does It Work?

Stephen Ministers are individuals who have been called by God to care for others. After receiving 50 hours of training by Stephen Leaders, each Stephen Minister is then matched with a care receiver – men with men, and women with women. A Stephen Minister meets with his or her care receiver on a weekly basis to listen, care, empathize, pray, and provide emotional and spiritual support. This confidential caring relationship continues for as long as the care receiver’s need persists. Stephen Ministers also participate in twice-monthly supervision sessions, and they commit to serve for a minimum of two years.

Latest News

Unity’s first class of eleven Stephen Ministers was commissioned during worship on Sunday, March 4. These individuals are ready to be matched with individual care receivers – people who are going through a tough time – to meet weekly with them to listen, care, pray and encourage.

Stephen Ministry needs your help identifying potential care receivers! If you or someone you know might benefit from a supportive, confidential, caring relationship, we would love to hear from you. Can you think of several people you know who are currently going through a hard time? Why not mention Stephen Ministry to them and ask for their permission to suggest their name to a Stephen Leader to explore the possibility of receiving care from a Stephen Minister.

Here are some examples of needs for care that Stephen Ministers can meet:

  • Those who are grieving the loss of a loved one
  • People who are hospitalized
  • Individuals who are terminally ill and/or their family members
  • People experiencing divorce
  • Parents who have children leaving home
  • People experiencing job-related stress, or who have lost their jobs
  • People preparing to retire or recently retired
  • Those who are homebound or in a care facility and/or their family members
  • People facing birth-related issues such as infertility, adoption, birth, or unplanned pregnancy
  • Those experiencing life transitions such as marriage, graduation, or starting a new job
  • People in the process of moving or downsizing to a smaller home

To find out more about Stephen Ministry, please contact one of Unity’s Stephen Leaders: Debbie Matthews (803.230.0970), Beverly Tysinger (803.372.7988), John Young (803.280.5613) or Jeannie Bickett (803.547.5543). To confidentially inquire about receiving a Stephen Minister’s care for yourself or someone else, please call Jeannie Bickett, Stephen Ministry Referrals Coordinator, at 803.547.5543.

How Can I Become A Stephen Minister?

For those who want to come alongside and support others in an intentional, Christian way, we provide training to become a Stephen Minister. The next Stephen Ministry training class at Unity will begin in the fall of 2018. If you are interested in becoming a Stephen Minister, please contact one of the four Stephen Leaders listed under “To Find Out More.” You will be asked to complete an application and interview with the Stephen Leaders, who will select those to be trained as Stephen Ministers.

How Can I Find Out More?