Lorna Rosnau (left)

Lorna Rosnau (left)

Stephen Ministers are ready to help

Non-denominational lay ministers offer empathetic support to people who are struggling with challenges in life

Editor’s note: The following is from Stephen Ministry.

If you are struggling with changes or challenges in your life, and need an empathic person to talk to who will listen and walk with you through this time, you might wish to contact the Stephen Ministry volunteers in Vernon.

These volunteers have been carefully trained, are committed to confidentiality, and have set aside the time to help others in need because they really care about the people in our community. If you yourself do not need this service, but have a friend who you believe might benefit from the help, you are welcome to make a referral, with the decision to accept the service entirely resting with your friend. The service is free.

The Stephen Ministry originated in St. Louis in 1975 when Dr. Kenneth Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist, saw a need in his congregation for more help than he could provide on his own. He appealed to his congregation and chose nine members to become Stephen Ministers. He trained them to become the ear to listen and the shoulder to lean on for those who were feeling overwhelmed by events in their life. The program grew to include other churches which adopted the tenets of this ministry, and was so successful that it soon grew well beyond Haugk’s own congregation. Now more than 10,000 churches of many denominations throughout North America are enrolled and serve more than a million persons. The training of Stephen Leaders and Ministers is an ongoing process.

Contact with a Stephen Minister might last anywhere from six weeks to a year or more, depending on the need and may, or may not, involve Christian spiritual care, depending on the care receiver’s wish which is always respected. Only women are assigned to help other women, and men to help men. This program is designed for adults over 19 years of age. Some reasons for appealing to Stephen Ministry might include loss of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, cancer, hospitalization, post partum blues, moving to a new community, anxiety over starting a new job, to name a few. Although the Stephen Ministry team is associated with St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vernon, the organization is multi-denominational.

Stephen Ministry does not include transportation to appointments or shopping, child care or nursing care. Stephen Ministers are not professional counselors, nor are they trained to undertake care for medical or psychological problems. They are volunteers who are trained and prepared to listen to your story and support you through a time when you need to talk to someone about what’s happening in your life, and if possible to help you work through your problem.

St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vernon has a team of trained Stephen Ministers prepared to serve. Contact may be made by calling the church at 250-549-2244. For further information, see www.stjohnsvernon.com and follow the links.