Stephen Ministry is a Christ centered caring ministry we have at Parkway.  Stephen Ministers are not counselors but are specially trained congregation members who provide one-to-one Christian care to people (care receivers) who are experiencing a life challenge or crisis.  A care receiver must be at least 18 years old and the Stephen Minister and care receiver are the same gender.  The name Stephen comes from Stephen in the Bible, who was the first lay person commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need as recorded in Acts 6.  Stephen Ministers are caregivers who are:  Compassionate – able to share the sufferings of their care receivers; Full of faith – rely solely on God to be the one who heals all wounds; Skilled – know how to listen, understand, and empathize; and Trustworthy – maintain confidentiality, visit care receivers regularly, and remain committed to their ministry.

There are five types of needs for care that Stephen Ministers can provide to care receivers in our congregation and community.  The five types are crisis care, follow-up care, chronic care, preventive care, and supportive care.  Crisis care is the caring ministry people think about first in describing pastoral care.  Follow-up care is commonly needed by people recovering from a major life crisis.  Stephen Ministers focus on one care receiver and can continue the caring relationship for as long as the care receiver needs it.  Chronic care is for a long-term problem; chronic illness or suffering can be like a crisis that never ends.  Preventative care helps people anticipate and prepare for potentially difficult upcoming events.  Supportive care is caring for the care-giver.  A Stephen Minister can provide vital support to anyone facing the challenge of caring for a loved one who is going through a life crisis or transition.

We currently have one active Stephen Leaders (Stephen Edge).  Stephen Leaders receive a comprehensive seven-day Leader’s Training Course (LTC) taught at several locations around the country by Stephen Ministries of St. Louis.  Senior Pastor Mike Austin is a trained Stephen Minister and plans to attend a LTC in 2016; he plays an important role in leading Parkway’s Stephen Ministry.  He identifies potential care receivers and takes part in the referral process of matching a Stephen Minister with a care receiver and other Stephen Ministry matters.    Stephen Leaders provide 50 hours of training at Parkway to trainees who are then commissioned as Stephen Ministers.  We currently have 7 active Stephen Ministers (Christine Crawford, Ken Parkany, Linda Parkany, Carla Radzikinas, Karen Robb, Norman Tameling, and Dan Wolf).  Our Stephen Leaders are also trained Stephen Ministers.

Parkway has had Stephen Ministry since 2000, and in that time we have trained eight classes (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008-2009, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2013-2014).  Stephen Ministers have a two-year commitment including the 50-hour training period.  The two-year commitment can be extended per approval.  Stephen Edge is our Stephen Leader responsible for training new Stephen Ministers.  Our last Stephen Minister training class with eight new Parkway trainees ended in February 2014 and they were commissioned as Parkway Stephen Ministers in March 2014.  Also included in the training class were three of our active Stephen Ministers receiving refresher training and five trainees from churches in our Forsyth/Cumming Stephen Ministry Networking group.  We usually train new Stephen Minister classes when we have enough volunteer candidates with the right spiritual gifts.  We plan to begin training our next Stephen Minister Training Class in January, 2016.

If you would like more information about Stephen Ministry, become a Stephen Minister, or if you or someone you know might benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, please contact Senior Pastor Mike Austin, Phone 770-889-8694, E-mail:  mike.austin@parkway-church.orgor Stephen edge, Stephen Leader, Phone 770-654-4447, E-mail:  stephen.edge@parkway-church.org.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Stephen Ministry

 What exactly is Stephen Ministry and Why the Name Stephen?

Stephen Ministry is a Christ centered caring ministry in our congregation in which trained and supervised lay persons, called Stephen Ministers, provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing life challenges or difficulties.  The name Stephen comes from Stephen in the Bible, who was the first lay person commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need as recorded in Acts 6.

 Who is involved?

Stephen Leaders are the ones who oversee and direct our Stephen Ministry.  They attend a seven day Leader’s Training Course (LTC) taught at several locations each year by Stephen Ministries of St. Louis.  Then they are commissioned to serve as Stephen Leaders by their church congregation after they return from the LTC.  They recruit, select, train, organize, and supervise our Stephen Ministers.  Also, they work closely with the Senior Pastor Mike Austin to identify people in need of care and match them with a Stephen Minister.  Stephen Leaders have a two year commitment but many have continued to serve beyond their commitment.  Currently in our congregation we have one active Stephen Leaders (Stephen Edge).  Senior Pastor Mike Austin is a trained Stephen Minister and is very interested in Stephen Ministry; he plans to attend an LTC in 2016.

 Stephen Ministers are the caregivers.  They have been through 50 hours of training, taught by our Stephen Leaders at Parkway or at their former churches, in Christian caregiving, including general topics such as listening, feelings, boundaries, assertiveness, and using Christian resources in caregiving.  In addition, their training covers specialized topics such as ministering to the divorced, hospitalized, bereaved, and aging.  Stephen Ministers have a two year commitment which includes the training period.  Some choose to serve beyond the two-year point with the approval of the Stephen Leaders.  Since 2000 Parkway has trained eight Stephen Minister classes (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008-2009, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2013-2014).  Some have completed their two-year commitment and continue to serve as Stephen Ministers.  Those who are inactive may choose to become active again at a later time with the approval of the Stephen Leaders.  We currently have 7 active Stephen Ministers (Christine Crawford, Ken Parkany, Linda Parkany, Carla Radzikinas, Karen Robb, Norman Tameling, and Dan Wolf).  Our Stephen Leaders are also trained Stephen Ministers.  Two trained Stephen Ministers (Sherrill McCracken and Carrie Hamilton) are leaders of Parkway’s Hannah’s Ministry.  Joan Brown, a trained Stephen Minister, is Leader of a Nursing Home Ministry.  Many trained Stephen Leaders and Stephen Ministers hold leadership positions at Parkway.

 Care Receivers are the recipients of Stephen Ministers’ care.  They are people at least eighteen years old from our church or community who are experiencing divorce, grief, loss of a job, loneliness, hospitalization, terminal illness, or any of an endless number of other life difficulties.  Stephen Ministers usually meet with their care receivers once a week for about an hour for as long as the care receiver will benefit from the relationship.  The care receiver’s name and details about the relationship are kept confidential.  Male Stephen Ministers care for men and female Stephen Ministers care for women.

 What Do Stephen Ministers Do?

Stephen Ministers are caring Christian friends who listen, understand, accept, encourage, and pray for/with care receivers who are working through a crisis or a tough time.  Their role is to listen and care—not to give advice or counsel.  Stephen Ministers are also trained to recognize when a care receiver’s need exceeds what they can provide.  When that happens, they work with care receivers to help them receive the level of care they really need.

 What’s the Pastor’s Role?

Pastors will always be the primary caregivers, but there is no way pastors can meet all the needs for care.  God has called all of us, not just pastors, to minister to one another.  Stephen Ministry multiplies ministry by turning pastors into equippers, so they can enable lay people to provide caring ministry as well.  Senior Pastor Mike Austin plays an important role in leading Parkway’s Stephen Ministry; he identifies potential care receivers and takes part in the referral process of matching a Stephen Minister with a care receiver and other Stephen Ministry matters.