Stephen Ministry


ELIZABETH (speaking in Stephen Ministry training session): I just don’t know what to do.

DEBORAH POTTER, correspondent: Sometimes you just need someone to listen.

ELIZABETH: I just don’t know how to resolve this in my head. I’m just really upset. I can’t forgive myself.

POTTER: Sometimes you need something more—a hand to hold, and maybe a prayer.

PAMELA (praying with Elizabeth): Dear Lord, Thank you for watching over all of us today. In your name we pray.

ELIZABETH: Amen. Thank you. I feel so much better.

POTTER: At Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, parishioners are training to become caregivers.

STEPHEN MINISTRY TRAINEE: The key thing that I saw is you leaned into her. You engaged her and told her, “I’m listening to you.”

post03-stephenministriesPOTTER: They’re learning to be Stephen ministers, named for Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr who cared for the poor. Parishioners are recruited and interviewed by the pastor, then trained to offer one-to-one care to people in and around their congregation. They commit to be available as needed for two years, but many serve longer. Pam Montgomery has been involved for two decades, balancing Stephen Ministry with responsibilities at home. But sometimes the caregiver is the one who needs care.

PAM MONTGOMERY (Stephen Minister): This is my dad and my mom.

POTTER: Seven years ago, Pam’s father died of cancer. Just two weeks later she lost her grandmother. As she grappled with her grief, a friend surprised her with a suggestion: What if Pam herself asked for a Stephen minister?

MONTGOMERY: When you’re so close to it I didn’t even think about me having one, and that Stephen minister was the best gift I could have given myself. She came week after week after week when other people, even my wonderful neighbors, even my wonderful friends, stopped asking, “You doing okay?” She came and she prayed for me, just for me, and that’s really powerful.

REV. KENNETH HAUGK (Founder, Stephen Ministries): When a person allows you into their life and shares their feelings and their hurts with you, they are giving you a fantastic gift, and I think when you listen to them and when you accept their feelings and when you love, share Christ’s love to them, you are giving them a similarly powerful gift.

Rev. Kenneth Haugk

POTTER: Kenneth Haugk started Stephen Ministries in 1975, when as pastor of a church in St. Louis he found he just couldn’t do it all. So drawing on his background as a clinical psychologist, he enlisted and trained a handful of lay people to offer confidential care to their fellow parishioners. And then it spread, becoming a nonprofit juggernaut.

Good Shepherd is one of 10,000 congregations around the world where parishioners serve as Stephen ministers. More than 150 Christian denominations have adopted the program.

HAUGK: Christianity is not a spectator sport. It was never intended to be a spectator sport. God gave to the church apostles, evangelists, and pastors and teachers whose job is to equip the saints for ministry.

MONTGOMERY (speaking to trainees): How did it feel to have your confession treated in that way?

POTTER: Stephen ministers go through 50 hours of instruction and practice, learning to help care receivers express their feelings, to listen without judging, and how to bring faith and the Bible into the conversation.

ALLAN (speaking in training session): Can we pray? Dear God, give Rene the absolute confidence of his forgiveness…

POTTER: They also study specific situations, like dealing with grief and divorce. But Stephen ministers are not counselors, so they also learn when to call in professional help from a pastor or therapist. Their work is supervised at the parish level, and if a care-giving relationship doesn’t work out, which does happen sometimes, either party can be reassigned.

post01-stephenministriesGood Shepherd’s senior pastor, David Sloop, introduced the program here in 1987.

REVEREND DAVID SLOOP (Senior Pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Raleigh, NC): It took a while for people to say, instead of “I need to speak to the pastor,” to also say, “Or can I have a Stephen minister?” And that’s a cultural shift, but it did occur, and we’re grateful it did. That old Lutheran concept of the priesthood of all believers—Stephen Ministry helps you live that out.

MONTGOMERY (speaking to trainees): Consider your stewardship of a precious resource: God’s gifted people…

POTTER: To enroll in the program, parishes pay a one-time fee of about $1700, giving them access to materials and leadership sessions like this one in Orlando, Florida, where experienced Stephen ministers and pastors learn how to train more care givers back home.

JACLYN HICKS: I was a care receiver, and I tell everybody, even before I became a Stephen minister, about my experience.

POTTER: Jaclyn Hicks and her husband were struggling with infertility when her pastor at Church of the Savior United Methodist in Cincinnati suggested a Stephen minister.

HICKS: It changed my life. It changed my life just having somebody be there for you, supporting you.

POTTER: After becoming pregnant and having a daughter, Hicks became a Stephen minister herself.

Jaclyn Hicks

HICKS: It’s huge to be on the flip side, to be able to just care for someone during their time of need. It’s been a tremendous blessing, and I get, as a Stephen minister, just as much out of it as I feel my care receivers do.

POTTER: Care-giving relationships are always same-gender, and the program tends to attract more women than men. Rene Anctil of Good Shepherd wasn’t sure at first that he was cut out to be a Stephen minister.

RENE ANCTIL: I tended to rely on myself a lot, and throughout this process I’ve kind of learned that I’m truly the care giver. I’m not the cure giver, and that’s God’s part.

POTTER: While Stephen Ministry relationships are strictly confidential, Anctil’s care receiver, Ed, said we could sit in on one of their weekly sessions. They started meeting more than a year ago, after Ed’s wife died.

ANCTIL: You mentioned that your daughter mentioned to you that she thought you were depressed.

ED: Yeah, oh yeah.

ANCTIL: How did that make you feel?

ED: I don’t think I’m depressed, but you get moody once in a while. Your body wears out when you get old. You always want to do something that you can’t do. That’s the hardest part.

ANCTIL: I think I recognize God in my life a lot more than I had in the past, and a lot of it is because of Stephen Ministry. I see God working not only with my care receiver but with me, which I never saw before.

POTTER: In the 35 years since the program started, half a million people have been trained as Stephen ministers, each one touching at least one other person—and being touched in return.

ANCTIL: I’m not going to go away. I’m going to be there as long as he needs me. I don’t know where the end’s going to be, but we’re going to do it together.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Deborah Potter in Raleigh, North Carolina.

  • DAVE PHILLIPS in Parowan, UT

    BOB and Staff =

    Of possible future “story idea” interest in BAKERSFIELD, CA is “Mended Hearts” — not exactly a lay ministry, but a Dr. ABERNATHY (not same spelling) who does cardiac-surgery @ San Joaquin Valley Hospital set up visitations before and after cardiac surgery among those who had prior successful surgeries. My late Father was one such visitor and for him it WAS A MINISTRY, of sorts. Even if not affiliated with a church per se.

    ** SUGGESTED LOCAL former Kern County television news anchor, to ‘cover’ this story for “PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly” == Having prior Christian NETWORK News background [with Pat Robertson in the 'early years'] — last known (a) Chairing the Bakersfield Homeless Center / Board of Directors; and (b) a founder of KAXL-fm 88.9 MHz “Music For Life” Christian radio station — DON CLARK.

    Closing comment = Sorry to learn that both “World Focus” (at WNET / Thirteen in NYC) is no longer on the air, since April 2d – and just yesterday – learning that “NOW on PBS” will suffer a similar fate later this month. – dcp

  • Don Douglas

    Video kept stopping; never could watch it continuously or in total. Seemed like it was probably an excellent video.

  • Stella Lee

    Hello, we are a church in Hong Kong who run Stephen Ministry. Is it possible for us to show this video in our church? It’s a great video. How can I get authorization?

  • B. Schmidt

    I read your article concerning Stephen’s ministry . It was informative and accurate. I am enjoying the privilege of serving my third care-receiver and know that God has blessed me in allowing me to serve.

  • Mark Restrepo

    Thank you for running this story, which brought tears of humility and joy to my eyes. Through SM, God has shown me that the brokenness of the human condition can only be healed in a meaningful way through the compelling love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is equally true of both Care Receivers and Caregivers. Our congregation in Davis, CA has been blessed by having SM, and the support of our Pastors has made a huge difference to our team of SM’s as well as our sizeable congregation. Thanks to Kenneth Hauck for casting such a lofty and broad vision, which God has used across so many Christian denominations!

  • mark

    This is a great program and it helps people see that everyone needs others to move on with life.
    The video was good, smooth and well done.

  • Sheryl Olson

    Thank you for this piece on Stephen Ministry. I have been a Stephen Leader since 1982 and am delighted to see its impact in the lives of individuals. It provides excellent training and wonderful opportunities for people to care for others, both in assigned Stephen Ministry situations as well as the numerous situations in which we find ourselves every day with family, friends, co-workers and strangers. My skills have assisted me many times when flying in being a caring listener to total strangers. I highly recommend Stephen Ministry.

  • Patricia Eddy

    The video was great and explained much better than I could myself just how a Stephen Minister can help someone. The video also explained what the Stephen Ministery does and the training involved in becoming a Stephen Minister. This video should be shown in churches and other places to let people know there is confidential help for them for as long as they need it. Too many people hurt and suffer alone.

  • Donna Bahne

    I am a Stephen Minister and it’s a very important ministry for me in helping someone. I’m thankful that I am able to be a part of this program.

  • Carmie W.

    This is so good to see and hear public acceptance of Stephen Ministry, on a PBS station. I am a Stephen Leader and sent this to our Pastor and Stephen Ministrers. Very well done. Thank you for all your time and efforts in training others to care for those in their time of need. This is what our Lord has instructed each of us to do.

  • Jerry Stein

    I am a Stephen Leader with Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, IN. Great piece on Stephen Ministry! Would it be possible to have this on DVD so we could use it in our training/promoting without having to go thru the internet?

  • Mary Lou

    Thanks for the video. I was at the Leader training at Orlando where that part of the video was taped. It was fun to be reminded of some of the AMAZING people I met there. I didn’t realize it would all be put together so quickly. Stephen Ministry is in its infancy at our church, but it already doing amazing things for care givers and care recievers.

  • Roger Canzano

    I just finished the trainging at our chuch this last saturday with 16 others. God is raising up those He knows He can trust with the ones who are hurting. How great is it to here the name above all names on PBS. We are the 4th class to go through the training at our chuch, Kensington Community Church in Troy Michigan. I think we are up to 100 Stephen Ministers now.

  • Kay B.

    Was very excited about the coverage on PBS. I am a Stephen Minister at Beach United Methodist Church in Jax Beach, FL. The training for this program has been of tremendous value in so many aspects of my life. I have been serving in this capacity for over a year now and have found it to be extremely rewarding. I think I get as much back from the ministry as my care receivers get out of it. The bi-monthly continuing education element is an excellent support for us as ministers and the mentoring we receive is priceless.

  • Betty Joyce Dietzel

    Stephen Minister training was a step that our Lord used to help me be the person HE wanted me to be. It opened my eyes on how not to be a “fixer of life problems” but a “listener and learner” of how people cope with life challenges. I truly believe that if more people were exposed to this type of training the world would be a more God Spirited place.

  • Betty Holmes

    I am a Stephen Minister at Church of the Apostles in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I really enjoyed the video.
    I am so thankful that I am able to help others on a one-on-one basis through Stephen Ministry. Being in the Stephen Ministry program also helps my own faith grow.

  • Judy Tymes

    As a Stephen Leader, I felt the video was well done, with one glaring (to me) error-the intro.
    It was emphasized to us in training that the organization was named after Stephen-not because he was the first Christian martyr, but because he was the first Christian LAY LEADER-quite a difference!

  • Abbie Jane Williams

    I am a Stephen Minister at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Naperville Ilinois. The video was most succint and I hope it encourages others to be Stephen Ministers. It is a most rewarding endeavor and it works both ways ie a care giver is often a care receiver. God has guided me an so many phases of my life and this humble way of giving is once again a reminder that God inspires and expects me to keep reaching out and giving to others.

  • Paul Green

    I have been greatly blessed by my experience with Stephen Ministry. May we use this video as a link to our church’s website to help inform others about SM? May we show all or part of this video in our services? Thank you for this well done story.

  • Judi Elster

    It has been a long time since I came to be trained with Alan Maryama (from Denver’s Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church) in early 1980. Without a doubt, God and this training has been with me ever since. Thank you for the design of this program, and thank you particularly for your continuing presence in God’s presence.

  • Sharon Twietmeyer-Perry

    Same question has been asked before……Is it possible to get a DVD to be used in recruitment for our Stephen Ministry program? I’ve been a Stephen Leader since 1993 & it is a program that has blessed many people…… receivers & caregivers alike.

  • Gwen Fenninger

    How do we get a DVED of the interview of Ken Haugk? I agree with others….a wonderful tool for our church.

  • Jeanne Boyd

    It’s exciting to see this wide coverage thru PBS—-Thanks!! SM leaders have access to ordering a couple different videos from the office in St. Louis; they’re designed for creating awareness of what Stephen Ministry is about.

    I agree that this one would be useful in the same way, if it can be made available. Fun to hear other Stephen ministers and receivers speaking up—I’m thankful for all of you, too.

  • Ellen Hinds

    I have been blessed to be a Stephen Minister since 1998. I have had the gift of having two Stephen Ministers in my life. These two women touched my life in a very special way. I do not know what I would have done without
    the gift of stephen Ministry in my life. I had one Stephen Minister before I became a Stephen Minister and one since I became one. I feel so blessed to be part of a caring confidential program in my church and in my life.
    Through all the training and continued training I have received all of these years, this has helped me to be a better wife, parent and co-worker and friend to those God places into my life.
    Thank you for putting this wonderful program on public Television. You never will know the wonderful outcome of this very valuable program. God Bless You all.

  • Juhree Polkowski

    It was great to see and hear public acceptance of Stephen Ministry, on a PBS station. I am a Stephen Leader and sent this to our Pastors and Stephen Ministrers. Stephen Ministry is an important part of our church’s ministry growing and strengthening the faith of our Stephen Ministers and our care receivers. It is hard to determine who gets more out of a Stephen Ministry relationship.

    The videos were very well done. They would make great informational resources for our church and members. How can we get a DVD copy of them?

  • Marietta burgess

    It was great to see PBS cover what we are called to do as christians.Jesus told Peter in John 21:15-17 to feed His word to His new and established believers .He also says if he really loves him ,he will take care of His people.In Romans 12 it states we all have differant gifts .If we have the gift of caring for and feeding His lambs & sheep we get more out of it than the ones we serve. I am a Stephen Minister and thank you for helping us reach others.

  • Jack Woodford

    It is interesting to me to see the part in the video where the practicing Stephen Minister was in need of a Care Giver and became a Care Receiver. I am a Stephen Minister and I was a member of the first Stephen Ministry Class in our Church. The person that encouraged me to take the training to become a Stephen Minister is a Clinical Psychologist. He also participated in the class and assisted with the training. He and I were the only males in the class. About a year and half after we completed the training the 21 year old son of the Psychologist died tragically in an auto accident. I then became his Stephen Minister. That was quite challenging for me as a Lay Care Giver caring for a Professional Care Giver and I also had a son the same age so I could feel some of his pain. My Care Receiver and I took many long walks together with God. The walk was not always easy but with God leading the way we have gotten through it. A couple of years ago I became seriously with a potentially fatal illness and guess who was by my side. That is right My Care Receiver and I had switched roles and I became the Care Receiver. We have both recovered and we are doing well.

  • Mary Lou Miller

    I have been a Stephen Minister for 6 years and have found the program to be the best in which I’ve ever been involved. The care givers often receive more than they give in terms of feeling God’s love. I have worked with four care receivers and although two of them have passed away now, I cherish the time we spent together. We always remember that we are the care giver, but God is the cure giver.

  • Jane DeYoung

    I too would like to know if and how our church can use this video. Thanks!

  • Joyce Smith

    I found the start and stop video a little hard to follow. I wish it could be “fixed”. It is a powerful message. I took 50 hours of classes, was commissioned and continued with education as we met for follow/up meetings and discussions. I then went to Orlando and took additional classes and became a leader. It has been one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. I use the training ever day even when not meeting with a care receiver.

  • George W.

    SM, is an amazing ministry, that has given me, a business owner, so many opportunities to give back to society. Jesus commanded all believers to make desciples of nations, and as a SM I can let my witness to the Lord be seen through His work through me. I can’t tell you what a privilage that has been for me these past 6 years. Thank you Ken Haugk, and thank you for How to Be an Assertive Christian and Don’t Sing Songs to a Broken Heart. Best care giver books I’ve read.

  • Frances Copeland

    I have read through all four of your books, and they are very helpful. I lost my husband of 30 years September 17,2008, This was my second marriage, as my first husband died at the age of 51 after 27years of marriage. The last one died at the age of 92, and I was a caregiver for the last several years and it is always hard to lose someone that you care so much about, but the books are amazing! I had a niece that took the course, bur I don’t remember where she went to take it. She has since died, but she was a very devoted christian, and had some trying times in her life. Thank you for the books, as they will help anyone to find the way out of their grief. I had my 89th birthday on May 16, and am gradually finding my way, with the lord, and your books as an example. These are the best!!

  • Ann Moore

    I talked with a chaplain at a Christian free medical clinic today who did not know that Stephen Ministry could fit into his workplace. Can you tell me how to link him with your information on hospital chaplaincy ministry? Thanks. AnnMoore

  • Mary Ann Lutz

    What a powerfull video! I sure would ike our church to get a copy to share with members. I once was a care receiver ,my SM was a real blessing to me.I have just started to study to be a SM at First United Methodist Church in Crestview,Florida. I want to be able to better serve the needy and homeless in our area. It is a strong
    connection to hurting people at the soup kitchens, food banks and clothing ministry.God is guiding me in this wonderful program to help his lambs. God Bless All.

  • Linda W.

    Love this! How can our church get a copy of this on DVD(?) so that we can use it for recruitment for SM????

  • Connie Pierce

    I wish this could be made into a CD that I could share more widely.

  • Dave S

    Well done PBS. As a Stephen Minister I found this episode provided a great view of Stephen Ministry.
    We would be blessed if this short episode could be used in our awareness campaign in our congregation. God Bless you all.

  • Philip Sekar

    I became suicidal in 1991 as I could not handle the pain of losing my best job in my life and my beloved mother at the same time. One Stephen minister came along and stayed with me throughout the healing process. If I am alive today, it is because of the committed and dedicated Stephen minster who went along with me. This is incredible. After my healing, I have volunteered myself as a Stephen Minster since 1992. You may be scared of a Psychologist or any professional therapist. But, Stephen Ministry is a non threatening and a very personal help program for anyone. If you know anyone who is in a crisis, please refer the person to The only things he/she will miss are emotional pain and surffering

  • Ramesh

    Wish you Happy New Year 2011

    . By God grace this year he lead us and we are going to enter into a new year. May this year be a great blessing for all of us.

    In Christ

    Ramesh & family

    Tamil Nadu South India

  • Linda A. Olson

    I understand what your organization is all about and I have kept my eye on it through the years, I have been training all my life to be a care giver. I have been studying biblel counceling more intencely for 16 years. What I would like from you is for you to send me an e-mail, what are the book or resourses you have avaiable for me to buy. I love the “Speaking in the Truth in Love,” my favorite book do you still have it? Thank you, i will be shareing that you have this training ministry availably. Thank you, In Christian Love, If you can not e-mail me, just send resourses available to me to
    Linda Olson
    RR2 Box 2106
    Hermitage, MO 65668-9512

  • Rev. Paul Beedle

    You might consider doing a story on Community of Hope, developed at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston to train lay chaplains, and now similarly launched as a nationwide nonprofit that supports lay pastoral ministry in congregations.

  • Rev. Ann Krueger

    I’m the minister of a Lutheran church in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. It’s a new congregation, only 12 years old and we’re still a mission church (supported by our synod). I would love to offer the possibility of Stephan ministry, but we would not be able to manage the $1700 fee. Are there grants available, or could a couple of small churches join together?
    Rev. Ann Krueger

  • Shan Socha

    My church will be hosting a half day workshop in the L.A. area on September 10, 2011 that introduces churches to Stephen Ministry, and gives a taste of what the training is like. If your church is located in the area and you’d like more information about the workshop, or to register for it, contact Stephen Ministries at (314) 428-2600 or visit

  • Valli Johnson

    Thank you for covering Stephen Ministry in such a valuable way. It is a wonderful ministry that well prepares lay people to care for another, with a focus on Christ Jesus. Speading the word about Stephen Ministry will allow us to care for those individuals who want someone to walk beside them for awhile. Thank you again.

  • susan hyde-wick

    What are your views re: homosexuality?


    l would like to have a contact email for Stephen Ministry of your congregation and other details of the same.
    God bless you for the work you are doing.

  • Nathan Nyabuto

    Dear brethren
    Greetings to you in the mighty and blessed name of our lord jesus
    christ.Iam nathan nyabuto from kenya,..Iam a servant of the truth
    and the gosple.Brethren! its today that i have been brevelleged and
    blessed to have visited you web site and i have found it teaching and
    so much touching in spritual matters up to have reached the point that
    iam filling to partner up with you so as to teach me this truth deeper
    and also to expand the kingdom of God to other brethrens.
    Hope to hear from you as soon as you are able.
    Yours in the lord.
    Nathan nyabuto

  • Degenerative Disc Disease

    Was very excited about the coverage on PBS. I am a Stephen Minister at Beach United Methodist Church in Jax Beach, FL. The training for this program has been of tremendous value in so many aspects of my life. I have been serving in this capacity for over a year now and have found it to be extremely rewarding. I think I get as much back from the ministry as my care receivers get out of it. The bi-monthly continuing education element is an excellent support for us as ministers and the mentoring we receive is priceless.

  • Verna Arthur

    Would it be possible to get a copy of this video for promotion and continuing education purposes? If so, please let me know how to obtain it. Thank you.


  • Don Mattan

    I am in my 5th year as a Stephen Minister and my 2nd year as a Stephen Leader at St. Michael Catholic Community in Bedford, Texas. My journey becomes more profound as each day, week, and month pass by. I learned early on that I was called to care for others, but for years I had no idea what a blessing that calling is. Furthermore, and even more importantly, I have learned through this ministry, how much alike all of our Christian faiths really are. I will be forever owing to Dr. Hauck and his organization for helping me see that all of God’s children are equal, and equally deserving.

    Blessings to all,

  • Kay Weaver

    I trained as a SM in the 80′s in Pa in a Lutheran church. Now I am retired in SC and still a Lutheran and would like to do SM work again. My church does not have the program though. Could I become active with my pastor’s support or do we need a group? Also, do I need a refresher course? I kept my old mterial and am reviewing it.

  • Linda M. Lake

    I became a SM in the 90′s. I also am an addictions counselor, hold a CADC and PCGC for gambling addictions therapies. I work at a treatment center and do In-Patient, clinical, case management. I am thinking about going back to school to take get a certification to be a Chaplin. Do you know of any programs in or around the Chicago or St Louis area that would recognize my SM work/classes? This would possibly be toward a Masters program but doesn’t have to be. My goals are to take my knowledge and experiences and tie them together to help in a hospital or clinic setting.


    Linda M. Lake

  • Mary Miller

    During the past 18 years I have served as a Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader. It has changed my life in a very powerful way and I have had the joy of being used by God as He changed the lives of my care receivers. What a privledge!

  • pnunn

    This is a wonderful ministry. I was a SM and yes, I could see a difference in peoples lives who had someone to talk to. My one question was how to end a SM relationship, without the SR becoming dependent on you. Our church ended the program, which is sad. I didn’t get the ending training. I finally stopped going to the SR because my job was taking to much time. I explained that to her but it made me feel like I left us both hanging.