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Stephen Ministry to broaden caregiving at FUMC here

Fran Boggs and Jan Sherwood, lay leaders at Barnesville First United Methodist Church, were among over 250 pastors and congregation leaders who attended a Stephen Series Leader’s Training Course June 9-15 in Orlando, Fla. The participants spent seven days learning to implement and direct Stephen Ministry, a system of Christian caregiving, in their congregations. The Stephen Ministry Series hosts six leadership training conferences across the U.S. each year. Over 100 congregations in Georgia contain Stephen Ministers, including many denominations and neighborhoods. Stephen Ministry is a lay caring ministry started in 1975 by Dr. Kenneth C. Haugk. As a pastor, clinical psychologist, author and educator, Haugk saw a great need in his own congregation for helping people get through trying times. Since he did not have adequate time to spend with every person, he turned to his congregation for help. He wanted his venture to be Christian in nature, so he searched the scripture for a spiritual base. He chose Acts 6:2-53. Thus, Stephen Ministry was born to bring the body of Christ together as partners in ministry. Stephen Leaders train and organize congregational members to provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals during times of need or crisis such as grief, divorce, loneliness, relocation, hospitalization, terminal illness or unemployment. Participants are taught to recruit, select and train lay people in their congregations to act as Stephen Ministers, those who will provide the care. They will match each Stephen Minister with an individual and provide ongoing supervision andinstruction. In August, the Barnesville First United Methodist Church will begin its first Stephen Minister’s training class. ’We’re excited about bringing this program to our congregation and the community,’ said Sherwood. Those who are interested or have questions about the Stephen Ministry program at Barnesville First United Methodist can contact Sherwood at 770-358-4504 or Boggs, 770-358-2958. For additional information, call Stephen Ministries St. Louis at 314-428-2600 or visit stephenministries.org.

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