It has impressed me since I have become a member that Parish of the Epiphany offers so much to reach out to so many with varied needs. That is, to serve and be served, to worship, to be comforted, to be challenged. What we know is that there occurs at times in our lives an unexpectedly difficult time, grief, loss or other crisis. I know from my work as a physician that the most healing thing at that time is not a "fix" to the problem. It is rather a kind presence, a listening and accompanying; that is what's really needed. This is the kind of care that a Stephen minister can provide.
Stephen ministers offer a practical way to respond to Christ's commandment, "Love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12). People who are hurting have a compassionate companion - a caring Christian friend who provides spiritual and emotional support. The Stephen ministers grow themselves as they serve others. The relationship between a care receiver and a Stephen minister is confidential. Men are matched with men and women are matched with women. When a care receiver's needs exceed what a Stephen Minister can provide, the Stephen ministry team makes a referral to an appropriate mental health professional or another community resource.
As a Stephen Leader, I look forward to the process of training the new Stephen Ministers. The training is extensive and practical. I see ways in which it can be helpful in other areas of our lives. I see it as an opportunity to grow spiritually as well. Those who cannot serve as ministers should know about what we do and look for opportunities to help to get care for others in our Parish and in our community. The training will begin after the New Year. May there be many blessings as we work to bring Christ's love to hurting people.