Pastoral Care Programs & Services \ Become a Stephen Minister

What is the Stephen Ministry?

In Stephen Ministry congregations, lay caregivers (called Stephen Ministers) provide one-on-one Christian care to the bereaved, hospitalized, terminally ill, separated, divorced, unemployed, relocated, and others facing a crisis or life challenge.  Stephen Ministry helps pastors and congregations provide quality caring ministry for as long as people need it.

The Congregational Church of New Canaan has a well-established Stephen Ministry, which was started in 2006 by former Minister of Pastoral Care Patricia Long Dabbah.  In 2009, Avril Sweeny became our first trained lay leader. Jim Cole joined Avril in 2011 as an additional Stephen Minister leader.  Since its inception, the program has grown to two lay leaders, a Stephen-Leader trained pastor and nineteen Stephen Ministers, of whom 16 are currently active.  In recent years, our Stephen Ministers have successfully supported and cared for members going through major life transitions such as divorce, unemployment, serious illness, or the loss of a close family member. Currently a new group of 13 interested parishioners is participating in 50 hours of training to become Stephen Ministers.

Our Stephen Ministers have different personalities and different strengths, but all have received the same intensive training in order to bring Christ’s love to those in need, whether it be shown through help such as running errands or arranging transportation, helping someone comprehend their medical situation, or just “being there”.  Care receivers may need help during a long illness, during a divorce or after the death of a loved one, or while experiencing any kind of difficulty. Confidentiality and careful listening are part of what a Stephen Minister can offer.  If you think that you might benefit from such a relationship, or if you think that you might want to be a Stephen Minister, please contact Minister of Pastoral Care and Nurture Chris Delmar at (203)966-2651 ext. 2.

Who are the Stephen Ministers at CCNC?

Our active Stephen Ministers are Beth Baker, Gail Banigan, Larry Brown, Lyn Chivvis, Jim Cole (Stephen Leader), Susie Conron, Michel Cornier, Levora D’Acosta, Josie Davies, Hermine Davis, Molly Farnsworth, Joellen Ford, Shawn Gardner, Parry Grogan, Twee Haffner, Scott Heath, Dick Hyde, Judy Hyde, Kathy Johnston, Joan Lister, Fatou Niang, Dorie Pease, Nancy Pullins, Bob Spence, Linda Spence, Pat Stewart, Avril Sweeny (Stephen Leader), and Paul Toldalagi.  Previously commissioned Stephen Ministers are Joanne Burns (inactive), Diane Schaub (inactive), and Johnny Potts (in memoriam). Click here to see photos.

How does one become a Stephen Minister? 

To become a Stephen Minister, you must first have an initial interview with a Stephen Minister Leader and the Minister of Pastoral Care.  Upon acceptance as a candidate, the prospective Stephen Minister must complete 50 hours of training at a Stephen Minister Training Course led by a Stephen Minister Leader.  Discerning our personal gifts and utilizing them is personally satisfying as well as a gift to others. If you are a sympathetic listener, an empathetic person who can help another just by being there, then becoming a Stephen Minister might be for you. Once you have completed the training course and been commissioned, the Stephen Minister Leaders together with the Minister of Pastoral Care determine whether there is someone in need of a Stephen Minister who would be a good match for you. Not every commissioned Stephen Minister has an active relationship with a care receiver, but all Stephen Ministers attend a supervision meeting once a month.

For a copy of the Stephen Minister brochure, click here.

Check out this recent PBS “Religion and Ethics” segment on how Stephen Ministry is changing lives.

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