First Ever Class of Stephen Ministers at Claremont UMC Commissioned on Sunday, August 14, 2016.
Photo of new Stephen Ministers provided by Lee Rawley assisted by Reggie Smith, guest and photographer.
From left to right: Pastor Mark Wiley, and new Stephen Ministers Rev. Mary Beck, Annabel Unland (trainer for the program with Pastor Morales), Paula Hui, Pastor Martha Morales, Al Smith, Lee Rawley, Henry Jefferson. Absent at photo-op: Merritt Verrill.
Our group of five Stephen Ministers and two leaders has reached the end of our initial 50 hours of training. Those being trained are Henry Jefferson, Paula Hui, and Merritt Verrill, as well as Al Smith and Lee Rawley, both of whom have served in their previous congregations as Stephen Ministers. Al Smith, Rev. Mary Beck, and Pastor Mark Wiley have also been previously trained as Stephen Leaders.
These people are ready to serve the people of Claremont UMC and the broader community as caregivers for people going through challenging times in their lives. The role of the Stephen Minister is to walk alongside others who need the listening ear and caring heart of someone who’s doing all they can to follow Christ in reaching out with compassion for those who are hurting. Those trained are Henry Jefferson, Paula Hui, and Merrill Verrill, as well as Al Smith and Lee Rawley, both of whom have served in their previous congregations as Stephen Ministers. Al Smith, Rev. Mary Beck, and Pastor Mark Wiley have also been previously trained as Stephen Leaders.
Through our weekly training sessions, we have learned how to begin our caring relationships with those in need in our congregation or in our community. We’ve spent me focusing on keeping our caring relationships open, honest and confidential. We’ve learned a bit about walking alongside someone experiencing deep grief or depression, and when to call for professional mental health care. We’ve recognized the value of the relaitonships we’ve developed among the Stephen Ministers through six months of training, and know that we will be able to support one another in our caring relationships.
Stephen Ministers are well-trained and supported in their ministry, but they are not professional counselors or therapists. They can provide supportive care for those who feel overwhelmed with the challenges of life. These situations might include the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job. It could be the joy of a new baby, that brings along unanticipated struggles as well. The need for a companion like a Stephen Minister could include a serious illness, depression, or a divorce. Someone who is themselves a caregiver for another might benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister.
If you believe that you or someone you know could benefit from the caring companionship of one of our well-trained Stephen Ministers, please contact one of our Stephen Leaders: Annabel Unland, (714) 329-8764 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Rev. Martha Morales, (909) 732- 8499 or email@example.com. They will help you to connect with a Stephen Minister and begin the journey toward healing and wholeness.
It is our hope that we will be able to begin our new caring relationships early in the fall. Be thinking if you or someone you know might benefit from the companionship of a Stephen Minister. Please keep our group and those we’ll soon serve in your prayers.
~ Annabel Unland and Rev. Martha Morales, Stephen Leaders
[name correction made 12/28/16]