“If we go out in Christ’s name to speak for Him, there will always be One with us whom no man can withstand. If only we remembered this, it would make us brave, resistless, in speaking the truth.”—J. R. Miller in 1909, exhorting us all to be more like St. Stephen, the first deacon and martyr for Christianity.
In September 2012, St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Silver Spring launched the Stephen Ministry, which provides congregations with the training, resources, and ongoing support to organize and equip a team of lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—in the congregation. Stephen Ministers provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care and support to people experiencing life difficulties, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, illness, job loss, loneliness, disability, and relocation, among others. Stephen Ministers work with all members of the community and can support the clergy to connect community members to care and services provided by the Church.
To date, 22 Stephen Ministers have been commissioned, and 10 more are in training. Thus far more than 40 people in the community have received support and care through the Stephen Ministry. According to Stephen Ministry Leader Faye McAneny, the initiative has been well received by the congregation. “We are so pleased with how well the Ministry has been going and how many members of the community we have been able to help,” she said. “Through the Stephen Ministers and under the guidance of our clergy, the congregation and community can experience a new level of spiritual care giving.”
God is calling all of us as parishioners to support the Stephen Ministry. It may mean accepting care for yourself, referring others to receive care, praying for the success of the Ministry, or answering a call to be a professional consultant to the group. If you have a mental health, medical, legal or financial background, you can be a valuable resource to the ministers as they provide care.
Also, if you are a parishioner who feels called to the discipleship of pastoral care—a good listener, empathetic, and compassionate—we invite you to apply to be a Stephen Minister to serve those in our parish who need someone like you to walk with them one-to-one through a difficult time in their life.
What Our Caregivers Are Saying
“As commissioned Stephen Ministers, may we always be aware of the One who goes with us to be with our care-receivers. There are not two gathered but three each and every time we meet.”
“The skills I have learned have been very helpful in my family and work life as well.”
“I find I get as much as I give and more.”
What Our Care Receivers Are Saying
“My Stephen Minister really listens. I like talking to …her.”
“The relationship with … is working in my life. I am grateful to the program for bringing us together.”
“I don’t feel alone at church anymore. This outreach by the parish is much appreciated.”
“The Stephen Minister challenges me to think differently.”
“We pray and laugh and cry together.”
Follow this link to watch these videos of individuals sharing what it meant for them to receive care from a Stephen Minister.
Learn more from this introductory video.
“Love one another as I have loved you.”
John 13: 34