30 Jun Pastor’s Weekly Epistle 06/30/2017
About 20 years ago a team of leaders at Chapel Hill UMC (where I was serving as Missions Pastor) came to the church with a proposal to start a Stephen Ministry. After a careful study of our lay led ministry, we could only be excited about adding the opportunities of this program. After training the Stephen Leaders, who then trained the first class of Stephen Ministers, they began their journey with their Care Receivers. The spiritual growth of our congregation and our church grew as the depth and quality of our ministry grew. I loved that as a pastor, I could offer people the benefits of spending a season in loving Christian conversation and companionship in the Stephen Ministry.
When I was appointed by the Bishop to Danville, I was concerned about losing this valuable resource. Upon arrival I met with Maggie and Mike who asked me if I had ever heard of Stephen Ministry, they were the newly trained Stephen Leaders and hoped that I would be supportive of their efforts. I was overjoyed! We had a great relationship in growing this powerful service to the congregation. To help with the program, I received leader training and Kim became a Stephen Minister as well.
When I arrived at EUMC, we did not have the program. After talking with the Willing Workers they agreed to support the start-up of the program. It took awhile, but the ground work and leadership were finally ready. Mike Cunio and Kim Powell have just returned from Leader’s Training and are now recruiting for our first class of Stephen Ministers.
If you have the spiritual gifts of being a compassionate listener, can maintain a confidence, have the time for the training and journey of the two year commitment of being a Stephen Minister, then I invite you to an introduction/informational meeting on July 16th at 2pm. After a brief program you will be invited to fill out an application. Classes start August 9th and will continue for 20 sessions (a total of 50 hours of training). Till then, please visit the information table in the Narthex and pick up information to read and share.
I am excited! This will also be an exciting time for EUMC! We will be multiplying the amount of caring ministry that goes on in our congregation and deepen the level of participation by lay people in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.
Questions? See Mike, Kim, or me. We will be glad to share about this great ministry.