By Amanda Boston
It is impossible for a pastor to satisfy all the needs of the congregation. In Galatians 6:2, the Apostle Paul instructs the churches in Galatia to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so the law of Christ.”
In 1989, First Presbyterian Church of Brandon teamed up Stephen Ministries in St. Louis to sufficiently care for its church community. The nonprofit Christian organization trains church members to administer care to people facing a life-altering event such as a loved one’s death, a long-term illness, job crisis, divorce and more.
Since its inception, the Stephen Ministry at First Presbyterian has commissioned 113 Stephen Ministers. Recently, the church welcomed five new ministers to its current 20 active Stephen Ministers. Betty Freant was one of the five church members to complete the training.
She said, “We learned that listening is the most effective way to care for someone going through a difficult time.” Freant continued, “I found the training to be helpful not only in an emotional way but also in a spiritual sense. We are to let God be the true caregiver as we provide caring listening.”
All Stephen Ministers complete 50 hours of training that provides tools for effective listening, utilization of community resources, and stresses the importance of confidentiality. The newly commissioned ministers also attend continuing education classes twice-monthly and receive supervised support to ensure high-quality caregiving.
“God calls us to be supportive of each other, and this program provides us the opportunity to serve. This not only applies to a formal relationship, such as the Stephen Ministry but also in our personal lives,” commented Freant.
First Presbyterian Brandon is one of 12,000 congregations using the Stephen Ministries. The church’s caregiving ministry continues to flourish as it blesses the congregation and community.
For information about the First Presbyterian Brandon, call 689-4597 or visit www.fpcbrandon.org. The church is located at 121 Carver Ave. in Brandon.
For more information on the Stephen Ministries, visit www.stephenministries.org or call 314-428-2600.