Stephen Ministry Illustrator

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 

~Galatians 6:2  NRSV


Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations that use the Stephen Series system. Stephen Ministry congregations equip and empower lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.



What Exactly Is Stephen Ministry?

Stephen Ministry is a ministry in our congregation in which trained and supervised lay persons, called Stephen Ministers, provide one-to-one, male-to-male/female-to-female Christian care to individuals facing life challenges or difficulties.

Who Is Involved?

Stephen Leaders are the ones who oversee and direct our Stephen Ministry.  They recruit, select, train, organize, and supervise our Stephen Ministers.  Alongside members of our congregation Stephen Leaders help to identify people in need of care  Once person have been identified and accept a Stephen Minister, Stephen Leaders match them with a Stephen Minister.  We have two Stephen Leaders.  They are:  Amy Purintun and Julie Ray.
Stephen Ministers are the caregivers.  They have engaged in 50 hours of training in Christian caregiving, including general topics such as listening, feelings, boundaries, assertiveness, and using Christina resources in caregiving.  In addition, their training covered specialized topics such as ministering to the divorced, hospitalized, bereaved, and aging.  We currently have ten active Stephen Ministers.  They are:  Ellen Burgeson, Dwight Siebler, Michael Ray, Caryn Siebler, Cindy Walsh, Ella Gubbels, Ed Mantler, Val Ridpath, Joan Rogers, and Sallyann Willett.
Care receivers are the recipients of Stephen Ministers’ care.  They are people from our church or community who are experiencing pregnancy, divorce, grief, loss of a job, loneliness, hospitalization, terminal illness, empty nest, or any of a number of other life challenges.  Stephen Ministers usually meet with their care receivers once a week for about an hour for as long as the care receiver will benefit by the relationship.

What Do Stephen Ministers Do?

Stephen Ministers are caring Christian friends who listen, understand, accept, and pray for and with care receivers who are working through a crisis or a tough time.

Are Stephen Ministers Counselors?

Stephen Ministers are not counselors; they are trained lay caregivers.  Their role is to listen and care – not to give advice or counsel.  Stephen Minsters are also trained to recognize when a care receiver’s needs exceed what they can provide.  When that happens, Stephen Ministers work with care receivers to help the care receivers find the level of care needed.

Can I Trust a Stephen Minister?

Trust is essential to a caring relationship, and Stephen Ministers are people you can trust.  Confidentiality is one of the most important principles of Stephen Ministry.  What a care receiver tells his or her Stephen Minister is kept in strictest confidence.

Why the Name Stephen?

The name Stephen comes from St. Stephen, who was the first lay person commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need as recorded in Acts 6.

What’s the Pastor’s Role?

Pastors will always be the primary caregivers, but pastors cannot meet all the ongoing needs for care in our congregation.  God has called all of us, not just pastors, to minister to one another.  Stephen Ministry multiplies ministry by turning pastors into equippers so they can enable lay people to provide caring ministry as well.

Where Did It All Start?

Stephen Ministry has been around since 1975, when Kenneth Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist, began a ministry to multiply the caregiving in his congregation in St. Louis, Missouri.  We have had Stephen Ministry at Gretna United Methodist Church since May of 2014, and are one of more than 10,000 Stephen Ministry congregations from more than 150 denominations.  Stephen Ministries St. Louis, the organization behind this international ministry, is headquartered in Missouri.

How Can Someone Receive Care from a Stephen Minister? 

Our Stephen Leaders (Amy Purintun and Julie Ray) work together to coordinate the referrals received from a variety of sources.  If you or someone you know could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, you can talk to Amy or Julie, or to Pastor Janice.  Any of our Stephen Ministers would also be happy to help you through the process.  (If you want to talk about Stephen Ministry for someone else, make sure you get his or her permission first.)

How Much Does It Cost?

Stephen Ministry is a caregiving ministry available to our members and community free of charge.

How Can Someone Become a Stephen Minister?

Begin by talking to one of our Stephen Leaders or Stephen Ministers and they can tell you more.  A new training class of Stephen Ministers will be formed in the future.  Stephen Ministers make a two-year commitment to train and serve.

What Does the Stephen Series Logo Mean?

The Stephen Series logo consists of a cross and circle together with a broken person and a whole person (find this logo by the church’s front door, and also in our fellowship hall).  The broken person behind the cross symbolizes the brokenness in our lives due to our sin and imperfections. The whole person stands in front of the cross because it is only through the cross of Jesus Christ that we are made whole.  The circle symbolizes both the wholeness we receive through Christ and God’s unending love for us.