In June of 2017, Bethany, Hickory, submitted a Peeler/Casey grant for the purpose of developing a Stephen Ministry for the congregation. The Stephen Ministry would better equip Bethany members to offer care to their own members who are “struggling through a difficult time in life—experiencing grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or some other life crisis.”
Pastor Pierson Shaw had identified a lay leader equipped with the gifts to serve as a Stephen Ministry leader, and eager to attend the training. Stephen Ministers were identified as those who have skills and exhibit a high level of empathy for others, but who can differentiate between caregiving and caretaking.
Not only will the Bethany Stephen Ministry be utilized for the care of members, but the ministry will also equip the people of God in assisting those in the larger community who struggle amid burdens and grief. And, a third way Bethany will utilize the Stephen Ministry is in the care for members who become inactive members.
Mr. Roger Webb serves as the Stephen Ministry leader, and by September 2018 Stephen Ministers had been trained and were installed at Bethany during the morning worship. Stephen Ministers are: Karen Russ Shaw, Cindy Johnson, Tommie Johnson, Linda Lutz, Gene Rector, Melonie Harmon, and Beth Brittain. A new class of perspective Stephen Ministers is now being prepared for the ministry. Stephen Ministry has been an enormous success in strengthening the bonds among those at Bethany as they work to buildup the body of Christ and point to the Kingdom of God through the building and fostering of relationships.