What will ministry look like moving forward in the Church Alive!: One thing is clear as we move through On Mission for the Church Alive! With the diminishing number of priests to serve our local church it will be necessary for all baptized members of the The Church to actualize their responsibility as servants. We are called to share our unique and individual skills and charisms that we have been graced with by the Holy Spirit. It will be important for our community, especially in her evangelization efforts, to authorize all our members to exercise a ministry which manifests each individual’s spiritual gift. This process will demand prayer and discernment. It will also require a new commitment to the parish and the Church on the part of many. However, those who embrace their baptismal call to serve others will experience a joy that the world simply cannot supply.
To this end, I would like to encourage you to pray over your involvement in a very special opportunity called Stephen Ministry. Stephen ministers are well-trained lay caregivers who provide high-quality, one-to-one Christian care to people experiencing various difficulties in life. They may be best described as the “after-people” – – those who come alongside a person after a crisis occurs and walk with them for as long after as necessary.
What type of after events do Stephen Ministers help with? They are there after: you receive the phone call you hoped you would never get, the death of a loved one, your relationship ends, your last child leaves home, the new baby arrives, your marriage becomes more than you anticipated, you think you lost your way with God, you find a pink slip in your paycheck, your family and friends have heard your story one too many times, but you still need to talk it out. Stephen Ministers help after any situation in which you need, and will benefit from, the Church walking with you.
On Saturday, September 23, there will be a half-day introductory Stephen Ministry Workshop at Saint Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon. The day begins with check-in at 8:00 AM and will conclude at 1:00 PM. There are three sessions to the day: Session 1 is Ministering to Those Experiencing Grief, Session 2 is An Introduction to Stephen Ministry, and Session 3 is How to Care in a Distinctively Christian Way.
If you are interested in learning more about Stephen Ministry, please stop by the Welcome Desk to pick up a packet of information and/or visit stephenminisrty.org.
I would ask you to also pray over this ministry; and if you feel called to explore it in greater detail, please e-mail or call the Parish Center Office (by September 13) to register for the introductory workshop. The parish will cover the cost of registration for any member who attends.
Those who attend the meeting will, at a later date, meet as a parish team to determine if and how we should move forward. Personally, I believe this ministry is crucial to the vitality of a parish. Additionally, with all the dramatic change that is upon us (and soon to come) as part of the On Mission of the Church Alive! there will be a need for “After People.” The need will exceed what the priests and deacons of the Church will be able to fulfill. Therefore, we will all need to depend upon those men and women who are gifted by the Spirit to be a Stephen Minister. Have you been gifted this way? Is God calling you to walk with others? Please pray over this and join me in discerning this ministry for our Parish.