“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The Kirk’s Stephen Ministry program provides one-to-one Christian care for persons undergoing crisis or transition in their lives. Through extensive training, regular supervision, and continuing education, the Kirk’s Stephen Ministers seek to provide the best possible Christian care to those who need a Christian friend to walk with them through a difficult time in their lives.
Select links below to learn more about Stephen Ministry and the role of a Stephen Minister. There is information if you need a friend to talk with or how to refer someone to Stephen Ministry. Look for the testimonies and videos of actual Care Receivers and what they are saying about how Stephen Ministry has helped them through their life’s challenges. Also, there’s information if you are interested in becoming a Stephen Minister.
What Is Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministry is grounded in Jesus’ command to love one another. Through confidential, caring relationships, those who are hurting receive the love and care they need to support them. Everyone goes through difficult situations at certain times in their life. Having someone to care, to listen, and to share God’s love with you can help you get through the sadness, grief, confusion, stress, or loneliness you may be experiencing. That is what Stephen Ministry is all about.
How did the program get its name?
Stephen Ministries is a not-for-profit ministry organization with its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The program is now in more than 11,000 congregations from more than 160 Christian denominations, in all 50 states, 10 Canadian Provinces, and 24 other countries.
In Acts 6:1-7, Stephen is identified as one of the first laypersons set aside to do caring ministry. Kenneth Haugk, an ordained minister, clinical psychologist, and founder of the Stephen Ministry program picked Stephen as the emblem for the lay caregiving program he started in 1975 to meet the needs of his own congregation. Soon after, he developed the Stephen Ministries Leader’s Training Courses to equip other congregations so they could also provide this caring ministry to those needing care through Christ’s love.
The Stephen Ministry Symbol
The Stephen Ministry logo, with the broken person behind the cross and the whole person in front of the cross, symbolizes that we are all broken people at certain times in our lives and that it is only through the cross of Jesus that we are made whole. Stephen Ministers help guide those who are in need through the brokenness to wholeness.
What Is A Stephen Minister?
Stephen Ministers are laypeople – Christian men and women – who are recruited, trained and supervised to provide one-to-one care to people experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or experiencing a spiritual crisis. They receive 50 hours of initial training followed by twice-monthly continuing education and supervision sessions. They have a passion for bringing Christ’s love and care to people during a time of need. When a Stephen Minister is assigned to a person in need, or a care receiver, they meet with that care receiver for about an hour each week. Stephen Ministers become a trustworthy confidant who will keep everything you say – and even your identity – confidential and will be a caring Christian friend who really listens. This confidential, caring relationship will last as long as the care receiver needs it. Stephen Ministers are volunteers, and there is no charge for their services. Female Stephen Ministers are matched with female care receivers, and male Stephen Ministers are matched with male care receivers.
Are Stephen Ministers counselors? Stephen Ministers are not counselors or therapists–they are trained only to be “caregivers.” Their role is to listen and care, not to offer advice or solutions to problems. By listening, caring, and praying with and for their care receiver, they help that person to find his or her path to healing and wholeness. A Stephen Minister is trained to recognize if a care receiver’s needs exceed what they can provide. If that occurs, your Stephen Minister will offer counsel with a pastor, suggest self-help books on various subjects, or help you contact a professional caregiver.
Stephen Ministry at The Kirk
The Kirk has been a Stephen Ministry congregation since 2000, when we trained our first Stephen Leaders and Ministers. We are blessed with gifted and dedicated Stephen Leaders (those who oversee and direct Stephen Ministry in the congregation), and Stephen Ministers (lay people who provide care to those who are hurting), supportive pastors and staff, and a congregation that is open to our ministry. Through spiritual gifts and prayers, we are able to show Christ’s love to Kirk members and the neighboring communities. There is no charge for this confidential, caring ministry. We make and receive referrals from other Stephen Ministry churches in the area and also provide connections with participating churches, out of state, for friends and relatives who would like to have a Stephen Minister.
A number of outreach ministries are provided by our Stephen Leaders and Ministers. These include providing a prayer ministry each Sunday after both the 8:45 and 11:00 am worship services, sending a series of four booklets called “Journeying Through Grief” to members who have lost close family members, and offering “Care Notes” pamphlets that provide support and encouragement around such issues as grief, depression, anger, illness, and aging. We ask that the congregation continue to pray for the Kirk’s Stephen Ministers, Stephen Leaders, and care receivers.
Stephen Ministry Library
Our Stephen Ministry library is supplied with books to provide direction, encouragement and support and are available to be checked out. Some of the categories offered are:
- Dying, Grief
- Children’s books on Dying and Grief
- Devotions & Prayers
- Personal Growth, Inspiration
- Growing Older
For more information on the different book titles and authors, click on this link.
Need A Friend?
Are you in need of a caring, Christian friend who will listen, empathize, encourage, pray, provide confidential care and patiently support you as you work through a crisis or difficult time?
Is your health, your attitude, or your relationships suffering?
Have you lost your job, had a change in marital status, facing a serious illness, or grieving the death of a love one?
Are your family and friends tired of listening and they are telling you to get on with your life? Yet, you can’t right now and still need to talk to someone?
Everyone goes through difficult times. Having someone to care, to listen, and to share God’s love with you can help you get through the confusion, stress, or loneliness you may be experiencing. God does not intend for you to struggle alone.
Stephen Ministers are ready to provide the emotional and spiritual care you may need when faced with a crisis or difficulty, such as:
- Loss of a loved one
- Divorce or separation
- Loneliness or discouragement
- Unemployment or job crisis
- Facing a terminal illness
- Caring for an ill or disabled family member
- Experiencing a spiritual crisis
- And many more
Could you benefit from the confidential, one-to-one care and support of a Stephen Minister? If your answer is yes, please contact the Kirk’s Referral Coordinator, Kathy White, at (919) 460-8089 for a confidential meeting. She will explain to you more about the ministry program and help you decide if Stephen Ministry is the kind of care you need.
There is no need to struggle alone. Consider allowing a Stephen Minister to walk with you on your journey to wholeness.
How to Refer a Friend -- In Town or Out of State
The ministry of referral is the process of recognizing people who might benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister and matching them with the best available caregiver. Anyone at the Kirk – members, staff, Session members, teachers, small-group leaders and members – who notices the suffering of others and wants to help can refer a friend to Stephen Ministry.
Do you know someone – perhaps a relative, friend, neighbor, co-worker – who could benefit from Stephen Ministry? Any adult, over 18 years of age, who is hurting and in need of Christian care can seek a Stephen Minister. It is not necessary to be a member of The Kirk to have a Stephen Minister.
The guide below will help you in your ministry of referral.
Situations appropriate for Stephen Ministry
Stephen Ministers care for individuals facing a wide range of situations, including:
- Job Loss
- Terminal illness
- Separation or Divorce
- Loneliness or discouragement
And many others.
Situations not appropriate for Stephen Ministry
Some situations are not appropriate for Stephen Ministry and require referral to other professional resources:
- Minors (persons under 18)
- Couples, families, or other groups
- Serious mental or emotional disturbances
- Severe depression
- Personality disorders
- Extreme manipulators
- Sexual abusers or offenders
- Substance abusers or chemically dependent persons
- Suicidal behavior
- Violent behavior
If you are unsure of the suitability of a situation for Stephen Ministry, please speak with one of our pastors or the Kirk’s Referral Coordinator, Kathy White, at (919) 460-8089.
How to make a referral
If you believe someone that you care about might benefit from having a Stephen Minister and the situation is appropriate for Stephen Ministry, follow these steps to make a referral:
- Tell the person about Stephen Ministry and how others in similar situations have found encouragement, strength, and help from a Stephen Minister.
- Emphasize the confidential nature of Stephen Ministry and that there is no charge for the service.
- Ask the person’s permission to refer him or her to Stephen Ministry, saying something like, “May I contact the Referral Coordinator and give her your name and number?” Do not promise the person a Stephen Minister, only that you will refer him or her to our Referral Coordinator.
- Call the Referral Coordinator, Kathy White at (919) 460-8089 and share some basic information about the person and his or her situation.
The Referral Coordinator will contact the potential care receiver and set up a time to meet with him or her. The Referral Coordinator prayerfully considers the person’s situation and, if appropriate for the program, will assign a Stephen Minister to meet with the care receiver on a regular basis. If there is no available or appropriate Stephen Minister for the relationship from the Kirk, the Referral Coordinator may refer the care receiver to a Stephen Minister from another congregation. All Stephen Ministers receive the same training and supervision, no matter which church or denomination they are from.
Referrals can also be made for individuals out of state connecting them with churches that have an active Stephen Ministry program. Follow the above procedures for referral and provide the coordinator with the city, state, and zip code of the person. With that information, a church in that area will be contacted to complete the referral and assignment process.
Testimonies and Link for Care Giving Videos
Please visit www.stephenministries.org to view many helpful videos about Stephen Ministry.
And here are testimonies from care receivers at the Kirk:
“Stephen Ministry has provided me with a safe haven to share my most private thoughts and feelings. My Stephen Minister is one with whom I can share my joys, fears, and sorrows; a person in whom I can confide and know that my confidences will never be broken. Stephen Ministry is more helpful than I ever expected.”
“I wish to thank my Stephen Minister for lightening my burden by sharing my pain through a difficult time in my life. Her prayers and compassion gave me the strength to look ahead rather than focus on the past. I no longer feel alone and unloved because of her commitment of caring and sharing with God’s children who are experiencing crises and loneliness. I found peace and joy in the Lord as a result of your caring ministry.
Sometimes when we go through situations in life like illness or surgery, we feel discouraged and helpless. I know that after I started to improve physically, I still needed additional support spiritually to help me deal with these feelings. I was familiar with Stephen Ministry from my previous church, but never thought I would be one of those who benefited from it. My Stephen Minister reminded me about how wonderful God’s healing spirit is that I wasn’t alone during my recovery process. Her visits made me feel closer to our church family and I realized how lucky we are to have such caring people in our midst. Now I no longer need a Stephen Minister, but I have a new friend.”
I am Interested In Becoming A Stephen Minister. What Do I Do?
All Stephen Ministers attend 50 hours of training before they are commissioned as a Stephen Minister. This training occurs periodically at the Kirk—approximately every other year. So, you would need to attend this training class.
Prior to the training you will complete a written application and an in-person interview with the Kirk’s Stephen Leaders to assure that your gifts and interests match with those of Stephen Ministry.
Training classes usually last 2 ½ hours and are held once a week for 20 weeks. After successfully completing the training new Stephen Minister are ready to receive a care receiver.
Stephen Ministers are asked to commit to a minimum of two years of service, including their training time. After two years, Stephen Ministers may choose to continue their service, or to serve in other areas of the Kirk’s ministry instead.
Please contact any of the Kirk’s Stephen Ministers if you are interested in attending the next training class.
- Kathy White (919) 460-8089
- Janet McGettrick (919) 469-0924
- Nancy Stokes (919) 387-7155