Sometimes we shed tears of joy, other times tears of sadness. Especially during this season of Lent leading up to Easter, we feel the sadness of the events leading to Jesus’ death, but when Easter arrives, we rejoice in his resurrection. Children express joy when they find a hidden Easter egg, or open their Easter baskets full of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. Their parents enjoy the gathering of friends and family to celebrate this holiday.
At the same time, there are people in our congregation who find little to rejoice over at this time of year. This may be especially true for those with a friend or a family member whose health is failing or has recently died. They may try to hide their tears of sadness, but at the same time the person who is grieving needs to know that others do care and they are not alone.
Stephen Ministers receive training in relating to those who are suffering. In our Stephen Ministry continuing education, we have read a series of books by Stephen Hauck on Journeying Through Grief. In his book, Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart, Hauck cites Biblical verses about suffering and pain, and the need for compassion and comfort, rather than telling someone, “You’ll get over it.”
During the Lenten season at FUMC, a Stephen Minister is standing at the front of the sanctuary after each worship service, ready to listen to concerns, answer questions, and pray with anyone who may be grieving or experiencing other needs. Also, Stephen Ministers are staffing the library table in the Commons the third Sunday of each month, and can point out useful books available in our library.
Although Christmas is a time of joy and celebration for many people, it can be a very difficult time for others. The darkness of the longest night of the year reflects the dark feelings of many people due to grief over losing a loved one, suffering from a major illness, facing life after a divorce or separation, coping with loss of a job, or other emotional trauma.
First United Methodist Church has for several years offered a Blue Christmas service on the longest night to offer comfort when holidays are not happy. This year the service will be Friday, December 21 in the Sanctuary beginning at 7:00 PM. You are invited to come for music, lighting of candles, prayers, scripture reading, and reflections. At the close of the service, there will be time for fellowship in the Narthex. Stephen Ministers will provide cookies and coffee, and be present to offer continued prayer or support if you desire.
This is a time and place to acknowledge your sadness and concern and know that you are not alone.
What are the characteristics of a good caregiver? Stephen Ministers brainstormed this question at a recent Group Supervision meeting and came up with a long list, including the following: empathy, patience, compassion, caring, flexibility, dedication, commitment, confidentiality, spirituality, good listener, communication skills, plus two concrete items–time and transportation. Many members of FUMC do possess these characteristics and could become excellent Stephen Ministers–but they need to participate in the Stephen Ministry training program.
The above characteristics fit well with the four points in the Caregiver’s Compass–compassionate, full of faith, skilled, and trustworthy. The first lesson in the 50-hour Stephen Ministry training program asks people in small groups to answer these questions: What does it mean for a Stephen Minister to be compassionate? What does it mean for a Stephen Minister to be full of faith? What does it mean for a Stephen Minister to be skilled? What does it mean for a Stephen Minister to be trustworthy? How do Stephen Ministers keep Jesus at the center of their caring relationships?
To learn more about Stephen Ministry, you are invited to talk to a Stephen Minister who will be at the front of the sanctuary at the close of each Sunday morning worship service throughout the Advent season.
Do you have questions about what Stephen Ministers do? Are you concerned about a family member or friend and want to find help for that person?
Do you want to talk with someone about your own physical,spiritual, or emotional concerns? One of FUMC’s Stephen Ministry team will be at the front of the sanctuary after each Sunday morning worship service beginning November 18 until December 30.
You can ask your questions, knowing that the Stephen Minister will listen carefully, try to answer questions, and maintain confidentiality.
Come up front at the end of the service and look for the person with the blue Stephen Ministry name tag, standing near the stained glass windows.
A new class of Stephen Ministers at FUMC will begin training September 11, 2012. This new training course consists of 17 sessions, 13 on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 PM and 4 on Saturdays from 9 AM-1:30 PM. Classes will end on February 12 with commissioning at a later date. The training will include a variety of topics:, such as listening, assertiveness, grief work, and maintaining boundaries in care giving. The training is distinctively Christian and focuses on God as the one who heals as we provide care.
Stephen Ministers commit to at least two years for training, service, and regular supervision. Typically, a Stephen Minister meets with an assigned care receiver once a week for an hour. Many ministers enjoy their ministry so much that they choose to serve beyond the two years. While being a Stephen Minister requires commitment of time and effort, it also brings joy and fulfillment. It may be one of the most rewarding challenges you will ever embrace. You will use the skills you learn, not only in your caring ministry, but also in your everyday relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
Think and pray about this opportunity. If you would like to be a Stephen Minister, please attend the informational meeting to be held Sunday, August 12, Room 110, 11:45 to 12:30. For most information, contact one of the Stephen leaders or the Minister of Pastoral Care.
Thirty former and current Stephen Ministers shared memories at the 20th Anniversary luncheon May 27 in the Fireside Room.
The photo shows two current Stephen Ministry leaders and three former Stephen Ministers who attended the luncheon.
In the early 90s several FUMC members who had lost loved ones wanted to learn more about how to help others who were grieving.
In July 1991 threee people from the staff and congregation went to Berkeley, CA, to attend a two-week training program for Stephen Leaders.
They commissioned the first class of new Stephen Ministers at FUMC in Spring 1992. Since that time over 60 people have been trained as Stephen Ministers.
Anyone interested in learning more about Stephen Ministry and the Fall Training program should come to a brief information meeting Sunday, June 24, 11:45 in Room 110.
Stephen Ministers learned recently about ministering to those making end-of-life care decisions. Following are several questions to think about:
- Why is it so hard to talk about death in our American culture?
- What can YOU gain by thinking about/talking about death?
- Do you think there is a possibility of a “good death”? If so, what would that look like to you? (Imagine specifics, like location, who is with you, etc).
- Is there ever a time when it is simply “time to die”? Is there an age, level of physical or cognitive functioning, presence of terminal illness, or other considerations that would create in you a sense of acceptance of the reality of death and a consideration of foregoing life-sustaining treatment?
- Who might best be able to make the decisions that you would want made for yourself? Is that person reasonably accessible?
- If you were in the late stages of a terminal illness, are there any forms of life support that you would want to accept?
Every adult, regardless of age and current health, should fill out an Advance Directive and Physical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). For more information about these forms and other end-of-life decisions, check the website for Gretchen Brauer-Rieke
An information meeting about a new training program to become a Stephen Minister will be held Sunday, June 24, 11:45-12:45 in Room 110.
This meeting will provide information about the Stephen Ministry program at FUMC and what Stephen Ministers do. Stephen Ministers provide one-to-one Christian care by listening, supporting and encouraging, praying, being dependable, and maintaining confidentiality in their care-giving.
A new 50-hour training program for Stephen Ministers will begin in September and continue through February, with sessions on Tuesday evenings and one Saturday a month.
A Stephen Minister is a caring Christian lay person, trained to walk with a person during a time of need. A Stephen Minister’s goal is to listen and understand with a Christ-grounded, objective, non-judgmental heart, giving the hurting person an open, yet confidential, environment in which to examine and wrestle with the problems.
A Stephen Minister is —
- A caring Christian who offers support to others in time of need.
- A trained Christian who has received 50 hours of intensive coursework in how provide distinctively Christian care.
- A dedicated Christian commissioned by our congregation for confidential, in-depth Christian caring. He/she participates in monthly supervision and continuing education. A commitment is made to serve for at least two years.
A Stephen Minister is not—
- A counselor or therapist
- A casual visitor
“Love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34
Our congregation’s Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing difficulties in their lives.
We all experience challenges in life—times when we could benefit from the support of a caring Christian friend. Stephen Ministers are ready to provide the emotional and spiritual care we need when faced with a crisis or difficulty, such as—-
- Loss of a loved one
- Divorce or separation
- Loneliness or discouragement
- Unemployment or a job crisis
- A terminal illness
- Birth, adoption, miscarriage, or infertility
- A chronic illness
- Recovery after an accident or disaster
- And many more
Stephen Ministry is a confidential ministry: The identity of those receiving care and what takes place in each caring relationship remains private.
For more information about RECEIVING CARE, please contact: Rev. Tom Foster, Minister of Pastoral Care, 503-228-3195 ext. 233
Stephen Ministers are ready to care.
“Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galtians 6:2
Our congregation was invited to attend Stephen Ministry’s continuing education, the evening of February 14, with the focus on Abuse & Domestic Violence.
Twelve Stephen Ministers plus guests attended, including a representative from The Youth Ministry Committee and from The United Methodist Women. We heard an excellent presentation by Stacey Womack and her husband Jerry, from ARMS. Abuse Recovery Ministry & Services is a faith-based, interdenominational, local organization.
ARMS provides educational counseling and awareness to individual faced with domestic abuse. It encourages beliefs and behaviors that heal and promote healthy life styles.
A copy of the ARMS handout from Stacey Womack is located in our church library on the Stephen Ministry shelf. It covers —
- What is domestic abuse?
- What to do and not to do when domestic abuse is the issue
- What about the abuser? Working with abusers
- Types of domestic abuse
- How prepared is your church to serve victims of abuse?
- Twelve reasons why couple’s counseling is not recommended when domestic violence is present
Abuse Recovery Ministry & Services
PO Box 663
Hillsboro, OR 97123
The UMW representative later informed us that Domestic Abuse is one of several national social action issues of United Methodist Women and has been chosen to be the primary focus for the Oregon/Idaho Conference UMW for 2012. It will be the theme of their Fall Conference Meeting next October in Caldwell, Idaho. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Everyone attending felt that Stacey & Jerry’s presentation was very informative and helpful. Also each person was given 2 long-stemmed red roses as a reminder of God’s love.
February 14, Tuesday evening from 7:00-8:00pm, Stephen Ministry will focus on the pervasive and devastating issue of abuse and domestic violence.
- Nationally, one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
- Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
- Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- Nationally, the health-related costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year.
But there is hope and there is help. Locally, there are several excellent agencies and groups which offer abuse victims a life-line in the midst of their darkest emotional and physical pain. One such group is ARMS.
Come meet Stacey Womack, Executive Director of ARMS. Abuse Recovery Ministry and Services is a faith-based, interdenominational organization. It provides educational counseling and awareness to individuals faced with domestic abuse. The ARMS program encourages beliefs and behaviors that heal and promote healthy lifestyles. As founder of ARMS, Stacey Womack is a notable leader, author and speaker of abuse recovery and we are pleased to have her with us.
Stephen Ministry welcomes you to join us in Room 160 (downstairs by the MAX entry), Tuesday evening, 7:00-8:00 pm this February 14.
“When I finally had the resolve and courage to leave my abusive husband for the eighth and final time, I was feeling scared and alone.
My husband was such a “nice guy” that I feared no one would believe me. I didn’t know where to turn for help. The first night I attended an ARMS class named “Her Journey,” I knew I had found a safe haven in which to heal with other survivors who understood.
The information and the relationships with other abused women has been a Godsend to my healing, hope and faith.”
A Current Participant of MY JOURNEY
See the article “You Are Invited, for meeting Stacey Womack, Executive Director of ARMS. You may also contact ARMS at 503-846-9284.
Stephen Ministry will be hosting the Library Book Table during coffee hour in Collins Hall on the 3rd Sunday of the month beginning Jan 15 through May 20.
This is the first time our Stephen Ministry books & resources will be on display for the convenience of our congregation during the coffee hour.
Our book collection & local resources will help you find information and positive steps in coping with difficult life issues, such as the death of a spouse, parent or child, coping with aging, breast cancer, suicide, and abuse.
These practical guides are based upon classic research, clinically tested advice, and personal journeys. Our collection includes some books written specifically for children.
Stop by to see us, check out a book or chat with the team on January 15, February 19, March 18, April 15 and May 20!