Stephen Ministry – An Invitation To Answer The Call


Dear West Vancouver United Church Friends:

Our congregation is now in the midst of exciting developments in the area of caring ministry. Three dedicated persons from our congregation — Ally Murray, Bob Pearmain and Gwen Carpenter — along with myself, recently attended a week-long training course in Anaheim, CA where we learned how to implement Stephen Ministry, a program of lay caring ministry for our congregation. Our instruction taught us to become Stephen Leaders who equip, encourage and supervise lay people in caring ministry. Stephen Ministry will be built upon the foundational commitment to caring ministry that has been a hallmark of West Vancouver United Church. It will exist alongside all of the current forms of caring ministry.

Now, we need to find men and women of our congregation who are willing to answer the call to serve as Stephen Ministers by being part of WVUC’s first training course this Fall. This training will be led by your Stephen Leaders and will include a variety of topics such as active listening, grief, and maintaining boundaries in caregiving. The training is distinctively Christian and focuses on God as the one who cures as we care.

When the Stephen Ministers have completed their training, they will be commissioned and ready to begin their ministry. Working under supervision, these Stephen Ministers will be available to accompany people at times when life is fragile or hurting, times such as these:

• Bereavement • Terminal illness • Long-term hospitalization • Job loss • Natural disasters • Loneliness • Single parenting … and many more.

Stephen Ministers commit to two years for training, service, and ongoing supervision. Many Stephen Ministers enjoy their ministry so much that they choose to serve well beyond the initial two years. While being a Stephen Minister requires commitment of time and effort, it also brings joy and fulfillment. It may be one of the most rewarding challenges you will ever embrace. In addition, you will use the skills you learn not only in your caring ministry, but also in your everyday relationships with family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers.

Think and pray about this opportunity. If you decide you would like to be a Stephen Minister, please contact me or one of the other three Stephen Leaders right away and we can talk about how you can get started. If we agree that you would be well-suited to be a Stephen Minister, you will then begin training for this exciting ministry in late September 2017. 

We are excited to see what God is going to do in the lives of those who will undertake this ministry and in the lives of those who will receive care from our Stephen Ministers.

Grace and peace,

Rev. Philip Newman,
Lead Minister & Stephen Leader
On behalf of the Stephen Leader Team (Rev. Philip Newman, Ally Murray, Gwen Carpenter, Bob Pearmain).

Qualities of a Stephen Minister

The church is not looking for perfect Stephen Ministers. They do not exist outside of Jesus himself! Effective Stephen Ministers will not all be alike and that’s good. Care receivers will be different, so It helps to have a variety of Stephen Ministers who can serve them.

Core Qualities of a Stephen Minister

  • The person is a Christian.
  • The person has the ability to keep confidences.
  • The person is able to relate to others nonjudgmentally.
  • The person is committed to giving the time necessary for training and service.
  • The person is willing and able to participate faithfully in supervision.
When an applicant has the core characteristics and some not all of the desirable characteristics in the four areas described below, he or she should make a good Stephen Minister trainee.

Desirable Qualities of a Stephen Minister

  • Shows humility.
  • Is aware of personal boundaries and able to say no when necessary
  • Is tolerant, nonjudgmental, accepting, forgiving
  • Shows a positive regard for people
  • Desires to grow and is eager to learn
  • Is reliable, dependable, trustworthy
  • Makes decisions and follows through with tasks and responsibilities
  • Shows emotional stability
  • Is willing to try new behaviours, experiment with different approaches, explore possibilities
  • Possesses genuine self-esteem and is content to serve quietly and without fanfare
  • Is teachable, trainable, accepting of supervision
  • Shows an ability to relate to and work with diverse types of people
  • Is comfortable meeting people and helping them feel comfortable
  • Is welcoming and hospitable
  • Is open to differences of opinion
  • Is clear, direct, and to the point in communicating with others
  • Expresses feelings in an honest and caring way
  • Has the capacity to be vulnerable, to laugh and cry with people
  • Cares for others in an assertive but not aggressive way
  • Deals appropriately with confidential information
  • Is accepting of self and others because God has graciously accepted him or her
  • Understands faith as a relationship with God and a way of life
  • Is not currently experiencing a major spiritual crisis
  • Has a growing relationship with God indicated by regular worship, Bible use and personal prayer
  • Has a heart and vision for servant ministry
  • Has an authentic desire to serve Christ and the church
  • Has the ability to articulate his or her faith in a natural and comfortable way
  • Shows a willingness to work hard and has an attitude that says, “I’m willing to do whatever it takes”
  • Views Stephen Ministry as a significant aspect of the congregation’s total mission and ministry
  • Is greatly excited about and keenly interested in Stephen ministry
  • Grasps the commitment level that is required for this ministry
  • Has the willingness (and capacity) to commit significant time and energy to learning and practicing the role of Stephen Minister
  • Has a deep desire to serve others through Stephen Ministry
  • Shows a willingness to take responsibility for his or her own actions.


The term “Pastor” is used because Stephen Ministry uses the term “Minister” frequently to refer to Stephen Ministers who are our lay care providers. We use the term “Pastor” here to differentiate between our professional ministers and our Lay Stephen Ministers.
There is training, which will include two retreats [Friday evening 6-9:30pm, & Saturday 9-4 including meals] and 9 evening classes (7-9pm), spread over September, October and November. As a Stephen Minister you will visit about once a week (for about one hour) with the person you are caring for. You will also attend up to two meetings per month for supervision and continuing education.
All costs will be paid by the congregation, however you may discover associated resources that you wish to purchase at your expense.
No, you are not expected to spend any money whatsoever on the care receiver. You are also not expected to personally provide any other specific services for a care receiver, such as transportation or baby-sitting, for example. As a Stephen Minister, you may at times assist in arranging for such services.
No. You will care for one care receiver at a time. If the care receiver were to begin calling too often, you will learn to respond to too many phone calls or excessive demands in a loving, assertive manner. It probably won't arise, though.
Most definitely! Stephen Ministers complement the pastor's ministry and provide even more care to those who need it.
First of all, you will never be knowingly assigned to people who might be in those situations. The Stephen Ministry training also helps you to know exactly when and how to help your care receiver get professional help when necessary. The Supervision Group, the Stephen Leader, and the pastor are also there to help you to make such decisions.
You will learn many skills that will be valuable in your personal life as well as in your Stephen Ministry. Also, the satisfaction of helping another person is a wonderful blessing.
No, many people decide to continue as Stephen Ministers after two years. You and your Stephen Leader will make that decision when the time comes.
Members of this congregation who are experiencing times of special need and other people within our community who may turn to us for help. Thus, Stephen Ministry is also a way to reach out to others as well as to our own members.
Yes. A pastor or Stephen Leader will meet first with the care receiver. Only after the care receiver understands Stephen Ministry and has agreed to meet with a Stephen Minister will you be contacted.
No. The name and conversations with your care receiver are to be held strictly confidential between you, your care receiver and if needed your Stephen Leader when circumstances require support.
Probably so! But the training will eliminate much of this fear because you will not only learn what to say but also, and more importantly, how to listen.
Fill out the application form which is available from any of the four Stephen Leaders. You will then have an opportunity to meet with the pastor and Stephen Leaders to ask any questions and make your final decision.
Ally Murray, Bob Pearmain, Gwen Carpenter, and Rev. Philip Newman (see picture of all four at top right).
Stephen Leaders (left to right): Rev. Philip Newman, Ally Murray, Gwen Carpenter, Bob Pearmain.

For more information or inquiries about Stephen Ministry at WVUC, please use the form below.

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“My Stephen Minister Is Truly a Gift”
“Getting Me Plugged into My Church”
“Refusing to Give Up on Me”
“I Can Tell Him Anything”
“Connected with God in a Way I Never Felt Before”

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