Our bulletin cover, E-Messenger, and “The Weekly Messenger” insert proclaim:  We Are a Stephen Ministry Congregation. But what does that mean? What is Stephen Ministry?

The Stephen Ministry program was established in 1975 by a minister, Rev. Kenneth Hauck, to assist with the ever growing need for pastoral care in his congregation. St. Mark’s program is about 15 years old. Stephen Ministry is a one-to-one lay caring ministry that trains, equips, and empowers lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are dealing with tough times:  the loss of a loved one, diagnosis of a chronic illness, job loss, a move, divorce, or other life-changing event. Stephen Ministers meet weekly with their care receiver and are there to listen and be a compassionate companion—a caring Christian friend who provides emotional and spiritual support.

Do you have the gifts of compassion and listening? Perhaps God is calling you to be a Stephen Minister. If you would like more information, you can visit the Stephen Ministry web site at www.stephenministries.org or speak with one of our Stephen Leaders:  Debbie Griffes, Steve Hendrickson, or Karen Smith—email them at StephenMinistry@stmarks-elca.org.

Do you know someone who could use the care of a Stephen Minister? Contact one of the above leaders or the pastoral staff for a confidential referral.

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WE’RE LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN

Do you recognize that slogan? It was used by the United States Marine Corps for many advertising campaigns and recently I saw it on a church website. Now it seems fitting to borrow it to emphasize the need we have for men to serve as Stephen Ministers. Recent illnesses and moves affecting our Stephen Ministry team have left several openings for men.

When an unexpected event happens—death of a loved one, chronic illness, or loss of job—initially there is a rush of support and visitors. Several weeks later that person may find himself alone, but the hurt and grief are still there. If you have gifts for encouragement and listening, please prayerfully consider becoming a Stephen Minister

Training sessions to become a Stephen Minister are being offered through our Stephen Ministry network on Saturday mornings during February and March. Location has not been determined yet, but it will be at one of the local churches. For more information about the class or to find out more about becoming a Stephen Minister, contact Debbie Griffes at StephenMinistry@stmarks-elca.org. To see what a difference you can make by becoming a Stephen Minister, view one or more testimonial videos found below.

Although privacy restricts the details of the care support, Stephen Ministry has published several video interviews that illustrate the nature of this ministry.Four of these Stephen Ministry videos are below.