Stephen Ministry was begun in 1974 in St. Louis, Missouri, by Dr. Kenneth Haugk. He was serving as an associate pastor at St. Stephen Evangelical Lutheran Church. He saw three specific needs in his congregation: (1) The need for lay people to be meaningfully and actively involved in a ministry that utilizes their gifts; (2) The need for church staff to have help in ministering to all those requiring care; and (3) The need for people struggling with life crises to receive high quality, distinctively Christian care.
The Stephen Ministry is named for Stephen, whose story is told in the sixth chapter of the book of Acts. The apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, commissioned a group of individuals to work with them to do acts of caring ministry. Stephen was one of those persons, one of the first laypersons to be sent out to do caring ministry. Because Stephen Ministers are commissioned to do acts of caring, it seemed appropriate for this ministry to be named in honor of Stephen.
Each Stephen Minister has had five months (50 hours) of training before being commissioned.
“Never have I seen or been associated with a ministry that embodies the call of the Gospel in a more profound way than Stephen Ministry. Caring for God’s people in need is at the heart of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Stephen Ministry equips disciples to be caregivers through comprehensive course work and ongoing supervision.
This ministry is vital to the health of our congregation. While the ordained clergy on our staff do a marvelous job of pastoral care, we are not able to meet all the demands and needs of the congregation. While Stephen Ministry is not designed to take the place of the clergy, it adds immeasurably to the ministry of our church family and reminds us that we are all ministers.
Stephen Ministry is one of many ways we at First Presbyterian share the love of Christ with each other and the world. As people experience our community of grace and compassion, they will continue to marvel: “See how they love one another!”