St. Stephen Ministry Enters Fifth Decade

As we enter into the holiday season many congregations are reorganizing their Stephen Ministries to help meet many of the needs they see in their communities.

The Stephen Ministry is a ministry of care and support for persons, where caregivers meet weekly with assigned “care receivers,” people who have lost a loved one or are experiencing any kind of trauma, and then twice a month with each other to report on their care relationships and obtain feedback.

Stephen ministers go through a training process that enables them to provide care and support for the individual they are working with.

“It’s accompanying a person in their process, to walk alongside them, to call attention to God’s presence,” said

Pastor Renata Eustis, a Stephen Leader at Christ Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. said, “It’s not a fixing kind of thing, but it winds up being a really healing ministry. We all think we need problems to be solved, but mostly we need to know that we’re not alone.”

“Equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

The program was founded in 1975 by Kenneth Haugk founded the nonprofit organization while serving as a young pastor and clinical psychologist serving in St. Louis. He noticed that many of the people he was working with in clinical settings could benefit from communal support.

Following the guidance of Ephesians 4:12 (“Equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”), Haugk trained an initial class of nine lay caregivers.

Since 1975, Stephen Ministry has partnered more than 11,000 organizations, including the congregations of 160 Christian denominations, in every U.S. state, 10 Canadian provinces and 30 other nations. To date more than 600,000 individuals have been trained as Stephen Ministers and millions have received care.

Source: Living Lutheran