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Recognizing that God is the ultimate Cure Giver, the Mission of the Highland Hills Baptist Church Stephen Ministry is to serve God and bring Christ’s healing love to individuals who are experiencing life’s challenges through confidential, non-judgmental, one-on-one Christian care.


Stephen Ministry trainees participated in a two-day retreat on April 5 and 6. The Friday night session was held at the church; Kam Cook hosted the group at her family’s lake cabin on Saturday. On Friday night, Stephen Ministry Training Coordinator Cheryl Sjoquist served as the facilitator for Module #11: Using Mental Health Professionals and Other Community Resources. In preparation for this module, trainees were required to read When and How to Use Mental Health Resources. We also viewed the video Stephen Ministry and Mental Health Issues during class. We learned when and how to refer our care receivers to mental health professionals; how and when it is okay for a Stephen Minister to work with a professional caregiver; and what other resources are available for people in crisis. Since we are the first class of trainees, an important output of this training session will be the Community Resources Handbook, which the class as a whole is researching and assembling. It will consist of a listing of available community resources for all sorts of special needs. Each subsequent group of Stephen Minister trainees will add to this book as Stephen Ministry matures within our congregation. We covered two modules on Saturday. Cheryl Sjoquist served as the facilitator for Module #12: Ministering to Those Experiencing Grief.

Stephen Ministers learned the classic stages of grief and what forms of caregiving are right at each stage. We learned to widen our understanding of grief to include loss of any kind – loss of a job, of independence, of children who go off to college or their own lives. As always, a Learn-It-From-Experience (LIFE) component of the training allowed trainees to bring our own experiences of grief in its many forms to the instruction process.

Stephen Leader John Jarrard served as the facilitator for the second session on Saturday, Module #13: Dealing with Depression. Stephen Ministers have no business caring for those suffering from severe depression, especially when no mental health professional is involved. We may, however, care for people who are mildly or even moderately depressed. Through simulation and lecture, trainees learned the characteristics and symptoms of mild, moderate and severe depression. We learned and practiced skills appropriate to our own caregiving of those who are mild to moderately depressed. We learned how to involve mental health professionals when they are needed. Continue to pray for your Stephen Ministry trainees as we discover the many and varied resources that exist in our community to help meet people’s specific needs.

Be with us as we learn to realize that grief can be healthy and as we learn to recognize and help people through the various stages in the process of grieving.

Pray for your Stephen Ministry team as we delve into the very common problem of depression—its causes, its symptoms and the very special role Stephen Ministers have in the lives of people who are depressed.