Stephen Ministries

What is Stephen Ministries?
Stephen Ministries (or Stephen Ministries St. Louis) is an independent, not-for-profit Christian educational organization, founded in 1975 and based in St. Louis, Missouri. The organization was founded by Rev. Kenneth C. Haugk Ph.D. and is best known for the Stephen Series, the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations that use the Stephen Series system.
The organization draws its name from Saint Stephen. Since the days of the Apostles, caring ministry has been a hallmark of the Christian faith community. Stephen is first mentioned in Acts of the Apostles as one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church.[Acts 6:5]
Stephen Ministry is a lay caregiving ministry that supplements pastoral care. The program teaches lay persons to provide one-on-one care for individuals who request support. The confidential care-giver and care-receiver relationship, usually conducted by weekly visits, may continue for months or years. Reasons for requesting a Stephen Minister’s visits may range from grieving the loss of a loved one, experiencing a major illness, going through a divorce, job loss, struggling with substance abuse, or other life difficulties.
SM curriculum provides a formal, structured introduction to human psychology and peer-to-peer counseling. Curriculum materials, which draw on literature from pastoral counselors, Biblical scripture, theologians, and psychologists, cover such issues as assertiveness and honesty, healthy boundaries, confidentiality, and ways to proceed with referral to mental health professionals when appropriate. 
Congregations which choose to participate in Stephen Ministry programming pay a fee to the central organization to cover the cost of intensive on-site training of lay leaders. These lay leaders then become instructors for the 50 hours of training for small groups of Stephen Ministers. After this initial training is completed, Stephen Ministers participate in regular peer-to-peer supervision meetings. Supervision groups, which may be led by trained Stephen Leaders, are an essential component of support for and guidance to lay ministers.
More than 13,000 congregations from 190 Christian denominations are now involved, and are located in the U.S., Canada, and 30 other countries. Wesley United Methodist Church, San Jose, CA has had a Stephen Ministry program for twenty-three years. Through the years many people both within and outside our congregation have been helped through difficult periods of their lives by the trained and caring presence of Wesley UMC members who have been and are our Wesley UMC Stephen Ministers.

Our current active trained Wesley UMC Stephen Leaders are: Helen Morimoto, Michiko Collins and Pat Higuchi.
Our current active trained Wesley UMC Stephen Ministers are: Barbara Mulford, Gene Kinoshita, George Leano, Mary Leano, Jim Higuchi, Pat Higuchi, Joanne Kumano, Its Yokota, Helen Morimoto, Jim Mar and Michiko Collins.

The following are our Stephen Ministry program and training: 
1.   Every month, Stephen Ministers and leaders gather for Peer Supervision to evaluate and improve each one’s care.
2.    We also hold Continuing Education Training sessions to further develop Stephen      Ministers’ skills for being good care providers.
3.    Our “I Remember You” Service is an annual service which acknowledges that many people experience sorrow as they approach the holiday season. The service of remembrance provides comfort and healing for all who might be re-experiencing the sadness of loss brought on by the approaching holidays. This year the event will be held on October 29th during the Sunday morning worship service.
4.    Jim Mar completed 50 hours of Stephen Ministry Training in 2023 and was commissioned as a Stephen Minister.
5.    This year, our 2023 Retreat was held on May 13 at the Willow Glen UMC Retreat Center. The retreat was led by Rev Roger Morimoto on the topic of the Enneagram. Through his presentation and our engaging discussions, we discovered how our unique personality types shape our perceptions of the world and those around us. It enhanced our skill set to better serve our care receivers as Stephen Ministers.