Stephen Ministry offers care to people going through tough times

By Barbara Dancer
Stephen Minister

Barb Dancer headshotWhen was the last time someone really listened to you?  We’re talking about that undistracted, full attention kind of listening.  That is one of the ways that Stephen Ministers care for others.

What is Stephen Ministry?  Stephen Ministry is a one-to-one lay caring ministry within our congregation.  In collaboration with Central United Methodist Church, we have Stephen Ministers who bring distinctively Christian care to those in need.  Irene Cotter, Linda Schubert, Bill Montgomery, and Barb Dancer are all Stephen Ministers who work with care receivers in our community.  For certification we completed 50 hours of training with role playing to help prepare us to provide one-to-one care to people experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, relocation, or separation due to military deployment.  Our goal, as Stephen Ministers, is to bring confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.

Have you ever had a crisis in your life that you needed to work through with someone who was outside the situation?  Maybe the word “crisis” is too strong.  How about a nagging issue that you need some perspective on?  Maybe you had something uncomfortable to discuss where confidentiality was key?  Or maybe it was something simple, but you just couldn’t let go.  Stephen Ministers are congregation members trained by Stephen Leaders to offer high-quality, one-to-one Christian care to people going through tough times.  A Stephen Minister typically has one care receiver at a time and meets with that person once a week (for about an hour) to listen, care, pray, encourage, and offer emotional and spiritual support. Twice a month, Stephen Ministers gather with their Stephen Leaders for supervision and continuing education.

It’s been over a year since we completed our initial training, and I’ve personally learned so much and grown in my relationship with Christ and his church.  Being a Stephen Minister has stretched and challenged my faith and world view.  Truly listening to another is hard, but so rewarding.  We reap the benefits in our relationship with our care receivers, and it flows over into other areas of our lives.  It truly is in giving that we receive – and the blessing of being a Stephen Minister is something  for which I am so thankful.

If you or someone you know would benefit from the support of a Stephen Minister, please feel free to contact one of us:  Irene Cotter (231-932-1522), Barb Dancer (231-223-7379), Linda Schubert (231-463-7397), or Bill Montgomery (231-421- 3260)

You can also contact Reverend Kelly or any of the members of the Grace pastoral care team.  We are here to help you.  Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, NRSV).

What is a Stephen Minister:

Care Receivers tell their stories:





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