Stephen Ministry is grounded in Jesus’ command to love one another. Through one-to-one caring and confidential relationships, those who are hurting receive the love and care they need.
What is a Stephen Minister?
A Stephen Minister is:
- a child of God who walks beside a hurting person
- a caring Christian friend who really listens
- a lay person who has received 50 hours of training in how to provide distinctively Christian care
A Stephen Minister is not:
- a counselor or a therapist
- a problem solver
- a casual visitor
What is Stephen Ministry for?
- Loss of a spouse
- Retirement changes
- Separation and Divorce
- Terminal illness
- Being shut-in
- Most of life’s struggles
Who can benefit?
Anyone going through difficult times who needs someone to care, listen, and share God’s love with them on a one-to-one confidential basis
Stephen Ministers will be available after March 15. Information is available from the rack outside the church office or by contacting Nick and Penny Ransonoffice, or you can contact them at (239) 887-1703 or firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I obtain a Stephen Minister?
Call one of your Stephen Leaders, Penny or Nick Ranson at 239-225-1204 or 239-887-1703. You can email them at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can tell Father Charles that you would like to have a Stephen Minister.
You can call the church office at 239-936-1000 to let Chris know that you would like to have a Stephen Minister.
You can suggest to a friend that he or she might benefit by having a Stephen Minister. However you must have the friend’s permission before you try to obtain a Stephen Minister for him or her.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
What is a Prayer Shawl Ministry? “Shawls, made for centuries, universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles.”
Whether they are called prayer shawls, comfort shawls, peace shawls or mantles, the shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. We have had five shawls blessed and we have given out four shawls.
We hope you will come and join us the third Wednesday of each month at 4 p.m. in Browning Hall. You do not have to knit or crochet, you can just come and visit with us. The shawls will be blessed at the altar before being given to those in need. Prayer shawls are given to console those that are grieving, comfort those that are ill, and bring hope to those in despair. They can also be used to celebrate life and its milestones. Contact Nancy Terrell at email@example.com if you would like to be part of this group.
If you would like to send a prayer shawl to a friend, relative, or yourself, we can ship to anywhere in the United States for the flat rate of $12.95. We can create a custom card with any message you choose. If you are able to include an additional donation to our Prayer Shawl Ministry for supplies, it would be greatly appreciated. Please contact our office at (239) 936-1000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry will also leave a few shawls at the back of the church for those that get cold during the service. Please feel free to borrow one during the service to keep you warm!
Teen and Tween Mission Trips
Our teens and tweens are involved in stateside mission work! Please see the Teens and Tweens page for more information on their outreach efforts.
REACH Rwanda September 2013 Trip
A group of seven American women from Southwest Florida have returned home after a fantastic trip to Rwanda. All of the ladies are supporters of REACH Rwanda through REACH USA, the 501c3 organization, which raises funds, and educates groups, churches and individuals about the amazing work of REACH Rwanda under the direction of Rev. Philbert Kalisa, the founder.
This particular trip had a special focus: to offer 20 women leaders of REACH Rwanda a three day retreat, with translators, and accommodations at the Center for Unity and Peace, in the capital of Kigali. CUP is the gathering place for REACH activities, as well as available for weddings, meetings and other events open to the public. Many of the Rwandan ladies had never been to the capitol of Rwanda. Most, if not all, of the women live in small homes or share space with others. It is unusual to see electricity or other than dirt floors in their homes. Most walk a good distance to find potable water and carry it back home. Life for them is not easy.
Prior to this special event, the group of US women had an opportunity to visit many sites in the area, where REACH works with children, women and men genocide survivors and also released perpetrators. The group also had time to finalize plans for the retreat. Four of our group had never before been in Rwanda and the remainder had. So the very first day we arrived, we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This memorial is the largest and reveals the history of the Rwandan Genocide, as well as so many other countries, which experienced genocide, or the Holocaust. The Memorial is both a tranquil place of retreat, for those whose lost ones have been buried on the grounds there, as well as an education and a true immersion of the breadth of what happened in Rwanda starting much earlier with attacks as early as the 1950’s. It is shocking and a wake up call to everyone of how easy it is for humans to turn against each other and create artificial differences to justify torture and killing.
In contrast, our visit to Ntarama, a small area outside of Kigali, allowed us to see genocide survivors and released perpetrators working together on a new project sponsored by REACH Rwanda: Men and women, working together, to raise goats. It was inspiring to see the healing, which has occurred. An example was a couple, one a survivor and the other a former perpetrator walking hand in hand up a hill, who had married and were working together. What a wonder to realize how the work of REACH Rwanda has changed lives, empowering both women, men and children to redefine themselves and find meaningful lives.
Our group also visited Nyamata where we saw how well the soap cooperative is thriving! The Unity Group (an encouraging support group, led by REACH leaders) has been a wonderful source of mutual encouragement. A large proportion of the soaps created there, go to various medical clinics or hospitals in the area, sponsored by a Bradenton, Florida church.
Another place we visited was a small Anglican church, where Fr. Philbert serves. We saw a church full of children and people who had very little, according to American standards, but everyone is so focused on the health of the church and its needs. The music, the joy of the Lord and the innocence of the friendly children were so heart thrilling! Rwandans are a very generous people and very welcoming.
The women of Grace Retreat began on September 10 and continued through the September 12. The US contingent started the event with sharing who they were and where they came from. We also shared a witness of a time of struggle or an encouragement. We took time for fun and team building. We were so grateful for our translators. Fr. Philbert joined in the fun with us. Since he is such a wonderful mentor to all of the women and has known them for many years, it gave the ladies of Rwanda a comfort level to see him there.
We used Scripture to share concepts and offered time for thought. We offered “tea breaks” together to break up the days. We did several games, which built community. We shared small tokens, scarfs and “pearl” necklaces to remind them they are pearls in Rwanda and leaders, helping others to see themselves as “overcomers” of the past. And we offered time to the Rwandan ladies to share their experiences from the genocide. Although those of us who serve on the REACH USA board knew many of the women, there were a few who had never shared their stories with us. One who has suffered torture and the destruction of part of her face, in addition to the usual horrors, shared her story for the first time. She has been broken in spirit, but still works with REACH to help others. She has taken in orphans to raise, as many others have done, after the loss of their own children. This particular story was very hard to hear, but somehow I believe it may be a turning point for her – a new moment to release some of the pain. By the end of our time together, we could all see a change. All of us felt encouraged and grateful. All of these women are so focused and dependent on God. They would break into praise and dance, thanking God for His presence and love. It was amazing. God was so very present in this time together. I believe all of us were changed. Our compassion has grown and our commitment to this wonderful ministry is refreshed.
Fall Update from Betsy Barbour in Africa
My work and ministry center around training mostly adult learners to communicate effectively cross-culturally. This seven week trip started in Washington, DC where I had the opportunity to do a special language demonstration for a group which has language learning and literacy projects around the world. The point was to help people understand a bit better how you can learn a language working with a native speaker, without books or other “formal” resources. This is the type of work I hope to be able to do more often here in the US, in between my trips to work with clients and missionaries overseas. The more everyone can be aware of what goes on as we move across cultures, the better able we all will be to live and work as global citizens, reaching out and connecting around the world.
I arrived in North Africa just a week ago and have been very busy since! The team I work with here has been given two years to learn the local language and they will then be working in various kinds of community development and ministry. We have four new team members, along with the six who have been here a year. I usually coach them from a distance using the internet, so it’s really nice to be able to be here on site working with them in person. Their main goal is to help local families live healthy lifestyles physically, emotionally and spiritually. Through learning the language, the team members are slowly integrating into the community. Ministry doors open as they provide many services (a café where people can just hang out, fitness classes, English language study for all ages, pre-school programs, special camps, etc). It’s an exciting dynamic and my small part is a blessing to me personally. It’s great to see people begin to communicate cross-culturally, who just months ago were really not equipped to do that … and it’s fun to share in the delighted responses of their hosts! One thing some of the women have expressed much appreciation for here is having a haven like the Center which the Team has set up, in the midst of civil unrest and uncertainity.
I will be working here in North Africa for another three weeks, and then travel “down and over” to West Africa for two weeks. I will be back in Senegal where I lived for many years, and this time I will be coaching several learners, among them, an American nurse who needs to learn both French and a local language to do her work in a clinic, and an American educator who needs to improve her French to help train teachers at a school for deaf children.
As we all know, these are unsettled times, and many places in the world, like the ones where I am, are tense and potentially dangerous. I really appreciate your prayers for safety as I travel and work, and for me to be an encouragement and a helpful guide to the folks with whom I interact. I love my work, I am thankful to God for allowing me to be doing it in such interesting and beautiful places in the world, and I am thankful to you all who stand and walk with me in prayer!
Bring a canned or dry food item to church the first Sunday of each month, which is Pantry Sunday. All donations benefit Community Cooperative Ministries.
CCMI has provided us with a wish list for donations. This is posted on the bulletin board just outside Browning Hall and is also available here. All donations are greatly appreciated and can be placed in the collection bins in the narthex and Browning Hall. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me …” (Matthew 25:35)