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There are many ways we can show God’s love through the use of our treasures and talents. Sometimes the most powerful gift we can share is our time and attention for those who need it most. As part of the Congregational Care Ministry, Stephen Ministers are specially trained to support those dealing with tough life situations whether it be the loss of a loved one, illness, or just being there to lend a listening ear.

Elaine Walters has served on the Stephen Ministry team for the last four years. She first went through the Stephen Ministry training in 2014 in a class that was led by Wayne Felton and other Stephen Ministry Leaders from MPPC and First Presbyterian. “A Stephen Minister does not seek to get to the bottom line or to figure out how to fix the person, the situation or the problem. A Stephen Minister will be present with their care receiver; listening, praying and caring,” Elaine says. “We walk alongside the care receiver; never pushing, suggesting, advising or judging.”

Stephen Ministry works throughout the church and community in the following ways:

  • Congregations receive a practical and powerful way to respond to Christ’s commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NRSV).
  • Pastors have a team of gifted, trained, and committed lay caregivers ready to minister to hurting people.
  • Laypeople nurture and use their gifts in meaningful ministry, growing spiritually as they serve others.
  • People who are hurting have a compassionate companion—a caring Christian friend who provides emotional and spiritual support.

Elaine also knows firsthand the value of receiving this extra love and support. After suffering an unexpected family tragedy in November 2016, Elaine experienced grief, sadness, and loss in the days and months that followed. “I felt bereft and lost, often going through moments of numbness,” she says. Despite her grief, Elaine’s Stephen Ministry training gave her a framework for healing and allowed her to lean on her fellow Stephen Ministers for support. “My fellow Stephen Ministers are a powerful reminder of God’s love and presence. Stephen Ministry allows us to reflect back the love of Christ showing hope, healing, and peace. The Stephen Ministry relationship is life-giving and transformative, loving care” she says.

For Elaine, being involved in Stephen Ministry has a deeply rewarding and inspiring impact on her life. She has learned so much in her four years serving about herself responses and how she reacts to various challenges, events, situations, and people “To listen to another share their story, to be trusted, to be attentive, to be present … is an honor,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to grow stronger in my faith, to show and share loving care to another, and a blessing to put the Fruit of the Spirit to work.”