Three Area Churches Expand Care through Stephen Ministry

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Continuing Education is one area in which the three churches share resources.

Continuing Education is one area in which the three churches share resources.

Continuing Education is one area in which the three churches share resources.

A&M United Methodist Church and Christ United Methodist Church in College Station plus First United Methodist Church in Bryan now provide one-to-one Christian care through Stephen Ministry.

Congregational members who face personal crises, such as separation/divorce, unemployment, hospitalization, or loss of a loved one, receive confidential care for one hour per week for as long as the need is there.

“Most difficulties in life are not resolved in a day or two. Stephen ministers work with people over the long haul. They help our pastoral staff provide ongoing quality care,” says John Reasons, pastor of A&M UMC

Stephen ministers are lay people who receive 50 hours training in Christian care-giving skills on topics such as active listening, confidentiality, crisis theory, feelings, and distinctively Christian care. They learn how to minister to those in specific situations, such as grief, hospitalization, and divorce.

“The need for this ministry is tremendous,” says Rev. David Porterfield of First UMC Bryan. “And helping meet the needs of people not only changes their lives, it changes the lives of those who train to care for them.”

After Stephen ministers begin providing care, they meet twice monthly for continuing education and supervision that enhances their ability to provide high-quality Christian care-giving. A&M Methodist in College Station and First Methodist in Bryan have partnered to provide this valuable training and supervision to Stephen ministers in their congregations. All three churches share resources and support for this ministry.

“Our congregation began Stephen Ministry in 2012,” reports Karen McNeely, a Stephen Ministry leader at Christ UMC. “Earlier this year some of our Stephen ministers received an additional eight hours training in care of veterans and their families experiencing the trauma of war.”

Stephen Ministry was founded in 1975 by Dr. Kenneth C. Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist seeking to meet the need for care in his congregation. Since then, it has become a trans-denominational ministry expanding to 12,245 congregations in 25 countries. More than 1.5 million people have received care from more than 600,000 trained Stephen ministers.

“Stephen Ministry is an example of Christ caring for people through people” says Jane Stowell, a Stephen Ministry leader at A&M UMC.

If you would like more information about Stephen Ministry or starting one at your church, visit