April 7, 2021

Dear Church Family,

In our Scripture text this week, the Road to Emmaus, two people are walking from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus after Jesus’ crucifixion. A “stranger” comes and walks among them. They do not recognize at first that the stranger is Jesus, the Risen Christ. This Scripture passage describes Stephen Ministry in a nutshell. Our Stephen Ministers and their care receivers often catch glimpses of the Risen Christ when thinking about their time together. There is an unmistakable presence of Jesus walking alongside us.

On Sunday, April 11, our congregation will commission our new class of sixteen Stephen Ministers. Click here to RSVP for Sunday services. Throughout history, when God has called people to special ministry, members of their community of faith have commissioned them for the important work they are taking on. Our Stephen Ministers worked very hard all spring to complete the training for this task. We now recognize their hard work and training, pray for them, and send them out to minister in Jesus’ name, asking for God’s blessing and the Spirit’s wisdom and power.

How can we as individuals and as a community of faith help support our Stephen Ministers?

First, we can pray for our Stephen Leaders, our Stephen Ministers, and their care receivers. Stephen Ministers do quiet but important behind-the-scenes work. The assurance of our prayers and appreciation will help them keep moving forward. Second, we can make referrals to our Stephen Leaders Beth Baker, Marianne Perry, or Kibbie Laird, anyone whom we think might benefit from a spiritual companion at this time. You do not need to be in crisis to have a Stephen Minister. Sometimes it is nice to have a spiritual companion to walk with you for a time along the journey.

Next, as a community of faith, we can also affirm and show our appreciation for this valuable ministry. We can tell them how much their hard work means to us, tell others how much we value our Stephen Ministry, and focus attention on our Stephen Ministers to bless and affirm them in special ways – as we do with our commissioning services. Stephen Ministry has been an important part of our pastoral care ministry here at God’s Acre since 2006. I give thanks every time I think about all of the hours, love, and devotion our faithful Stephen Ministers have poured out on our flock. They are an incredible resource and an immeasurable blessing! This new class joins many others before them who have served to bring hope, healing, and wholeness to others in times of distress, loneliness, or a challenging season of life.

As we commission our newly trained Stephen Ministers, let us thank God for all that they will bring to this congregation to provide care to others and promise them our daily prayer and support. We hope to see you Sunday. May the grace and peace of Christ be with you.