Stephen Ministry has been one of the services offered at Coker for about 20 years. During that time, it has brought compassionate, non-judgmental listening to a variety of persons. Before Stephen Ministers can even begin to visit care receivers, they must complete 50 hours of training. Once that training is completed, Stephen Ministers meet twice a month for continuing education. During that time, they listen to speakers who make them better acquainted with the various types of problems their care receivers may have, and they work to improve their own skills as listeners. Men are always assigned to men; women to women. The relationship between a Stephen Minister and a care receiver may last from a few days to many years. Everything that is shared during that time is confidential, told to no one including the care receiver’s family members. Occasionally, a care receiver may reveal his/her Stephen Minister relationship, but it is never revealed by the Stephen Minister.
In the 18 years that I served as a Stephen Minister, I was blessed by every care receiver I served. I spent varying amounts of time with my care receivers. With one lady our relationship lasted only three days while she was in the hospital. She wanted me with her all the time during her hospital stay. Then after she went home, she no longer felt the need for a Stephen Minister. In contrast, I spent three years with another lady, visiting her every week. Our relationship lasted until the morning her husband called to tell me she had passed away. In between were many others—all blessings to me. I believe that the Stephen Ministry program is one of the most important that Coker has. I just wish that more people took advantage of having a Stephen Minister to help them through troubling situations. I encourage anyone who is having a difficult time to spend some time with a Stephen Minister—I assure you that you will be glad you did.
For myself, I cherish having been a Stephen Minister—it was indeed one of my most fulfilling activities.