Stephen Ministry was founded in 1972 by a Lutheran pastor and therapist in St. Louis. Training lay people for caring ministry, it puts a premium on quality training, confidentiality and accountability. Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential, caring, one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing difficulty in their lives.
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A Stephen Minister is a child of God who will walks beside a person who is hurting; a caring Christian friend who listens, cares, prays and supports someone going through a difficult time. Stephen Ministers reach out with God’s love to people who need someone to care and listen.
Stephen Leaders are pastors and lay leaders who direct the Stephen Ministry and guide the Stephen ministers in their congregation. They are trained to facilitate the training of new ministers and to provide continuing education and support to Stephen Ministers.
Stephen Ministry at St. Peter’s Church began in January of 2013 when Laurie Kane, Rebecca Ledder and Pastor Wagner attended a training conference in Orlando, where they spent every waking minute learning how to start, administer and maintain a thriving ministry that would care for people in our church community and beyond.
After the conference Laurie and Rebecca completed an additional 50 hours of ministry training, to be commissioned as STEPHEN Ministers. Then they began to recruit and train their own first class of ministers here at St. Peter’s. The inaugural training group of six female ministers met weekly for 20 weeks. They graduated in November 2013. Since then, all have been paired up with care receivers and have begun providing Christian care regularly. Laurie and Rebecca and the ministers continue to meet twice monthly for regular supervision meetings in which ministers are given additional support and continued training.
“We are all consecrated priests through Baptism, as St. Peter in 1 Peter 2[:9] says, "You are a royal priesthood and a priestly kingdom," and Revelation [5:10], "Through your blood you have made us into priests and kings."
—Martin Luther, 1520
The Lutheran Church encourages the spiritual and ministerial engagement of all church members, including areas that used to be the exclusive domain of pastors. We believe that it takes the gifts of many people to serve Christ. The biblical idea of the “priesthood of all believers” was one of the major shifts in thinking that started the Lutheran Church.
St. Peter’s Deacons are trained Eucharistic Lay Ministers who take the sacrament of communion to our home-bound members. Each Deacon is paired-up with one or two members or couples whom they visit once a month. They also serve as Worship Assistants for Sunday church services.
Two of our Deacons, Judy Jones and Terry Riesz, have been active in this ministry since 2002. In that time they have regularly visited 12 men and women. “This ministry is a wonderful way to keep our home-bound members connected to their church,” says Judy. “My visits mean as much to me to as to them. They are as appreciative of the visit and friendship as they are of the opportunity to share in communion. It’s a wonderful feeling to bring happiness to an elder friend and to experience their faith in God.”
Terry adds “I became interested in this ministry when I saw all of the Protestant clients where I worked in an Alzheimer's unit, not getting any sort of pastoral care, but the Catholic clients received regular rosary and worship services. After I became a Deacon, I was always amazed at the memories my shut-ins retained from their childhoods in the church. They may not remember my name or when I am coming, but they recognize me as someone who comes from the church. There is such a look of peace and "all is right with the world" on their faces afterwards.”
Over the last five years, we have trained five new deacons. This ministry is not as intense as Stephen Ministry and is especially suited for persons who like to spend time with elderly people. Learn more about Lutheran Lay Ministries