Many stories in the Bible depict angels who bring comfort to people who are hurting. In our modern times some of those angels among us are Stephen Ministers.
Stephen Ministers are lay people who are trained to provide confidential, Christ-centered care to those in need. They are not ordained ministers leading congregations, but they are specially trained members of the congregation who help church leaders care for their flocks.
Stephen Ministries was founded in 1975 in St. Louis by the Rev. Kenneth Haugk. He initially trained nine members of his congregation to help him extend his pastoral care reach. They were called Stephen Ministers because in the Bible’s Book of Acts, Stephen was the first of the apostles to be named a deacon and develop a ministry for widows in need.
Today, Stephen Ministers serve 12,000 congregations in the United States, Canada and other countries. It is a Christian ministry but includes congregations from many different denominations. Haugk continues today as executive director of the nonprofit.
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Locally, 60 congregations partner together in the Triangle Area Stephen Ministry Network. The network provides support and training for local Stephen Ministers and Leaders, as well as a central place where congregations can find additional Stephen Ministers if their own are already working with recipients.
Ron Bostick is one of the coordinators of the network in the Triangle and serves as a Stephen Leader at his home church, Resurrection Lutheran in Cary. Bostick said his last care recipient was an older man with multiple sclerosis.
“He was homebound and didn’t have much family in the area and was just looking for people to come in and talk,” Bostick said. “We shared an hour or sometimes two hours every week and it was just very helpful. In those conversations spiritual feelings would come forth and we ended many sessions praying together.”
Bostick said the specific Stephen Ministry training helps lay people become compassionate companions.
“I feel personally that most people can become a Stephen Minister if they have a heart for people and if they are willing to spend time with them,” he said. “We aren’t there to provide a cure, we are there to provide care.”
Bostick continued: “It’s a great opportunity to hone your skills in dealing with people. We’re in a very goal-oriented society and time is very precious. At the same time those things can hurt relationships. The training we go though allows us to sit back and build a relationship with an individual. It strengthens your faith in God, and the spiritual growth that occurs is tremendous.”
Church seeks yard sale donations
North Raleigh Presbyterian Church is accepting donations of items for its annual indoor yard sale.
Donations will be accepted at the church, located at 11905 Strickland Road in Raleigh, from Friday, Jan. 29, through Friday, Feb. 5. The church will not accept the following: adult clothing, computers, printers, large appliances, large exercise equipment, tube televisions, multi-piece entertainment centers, encyclopedias, cribs and car seats.
The indoor sale, which includes barbecue and baked goods for sale, is set for 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 6.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will host its monthly Coffeehouse for individuals of all abilities from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.
The event features entertainment, refreshments and fellowship, along with live music from Greg Glover and the Engraved Band. Volunteers are needed to set up, serve and clean up for the expected 200 guests.
The Coffeehouse ministry has been going strong at Good Shepherd Lutheran for 19 years. The church is located at 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at email@example.com.