Sunday, January 8th, while most of Raleigh was either sledding or inside enjoying another cup of coffee, I carefully navigated out of my neighborhood onto Western Boulevard and headed South: destination Orlando and the Stephen Ministry Leadership Training. I missed the opening banquet Sunday evening because of the snow delay, but I was ready to begin the six-day intensive training first thing on Monday morning. One of the promises that I made when I accepted the call to serve as West Raleigh’s pastor was to attend one of six Leadership Training courses that Stephen Ministry offers each year. I knew that I was grateful to be called to a Stephen Ministry congregation. Now I know why and how I can help.
Stephen Ministry started at West Raleigh in 1998. Since that time 60 people have been trained as Stephen Ministers (another five have audited the course); fifteen lay people have been trained as Stephen Leaders, and three pastors (plus me) have also received Leadership training. The initial Stephen Ministry training is 50 hours, usually divided over six months. Stephen Ministers are trained in the art and practice of active listening; they participate in continuing education in a wide range of topics from prayer to the grieving process, to dementia. They understand the importance of confidentiality and are bound to it. They are called to this ministry. They care.
Stephen Ministry is a one-on-one relationship between a Stephen Minister and a Care Receiver. They usually meet about once a week, mostly in person, but sometimes on the phone. The Stephen Minister is called to listen and encourage, to ask questions, to support and to pray. They meet their Care Receiver wherever they are without judgement. This ministry has been invaluable to hundreds of members and friends at West Raleigh who have experienced loss, struggled through transition or been isolated by a range of circumstances. In addition, having this many trained Stephen Ministers as part of the fabric of West Raleigh has made us a better church. We make caring for one another a priority and, we are committed to doing it in ways that are help-full and hope-full.
If you are interested in having a Stephen Minister or in becoming a Stephen Minister, please call me. I will also put the names and contact information of our current Stephen Leaders at the end of this note. We would be glad to talk to you about the ways that this ministry can be helpful to you as well as the ways you can be helpful to this ministry. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Thanks be to God for the Stephen Ministers among us!
See you in church,
You can also call the church office (919-828-5468), and a Stephen Leader will return your call promptly.