Stephen Ministry

“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NRSV

Photo of Mt Olive Church sign: A Stephen Ministry Church


Stephen Ministry is a caregiving ministry in our congregation in which trained and supervised laypersons, called Stephen Ministers, provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing life challenges.

Two men  in armchairs talking


Stephen Ministers are caring Christian friends who listen, understand, accept, encourage, and pray for and with care receivers who are working through a crisis or a tough time. They are trained caregivers. They are notcounselors, problem solvers, casual visitors, or someone who runs errands or helps with chores. A Stephen Minister typically meets with his or her same-gender care receiver for an hour each week.

Stephen Ministers provide emotional and spiritual care for persons who are facing challenges that include: loss of a loved one; hospitalization; divorce or separation; loneliness or discouragement; unemployment or job crisis; terminal or chronic illness; aging; relocation, recovery after an accident or disaster, issues involving birth, adoption, miscarriage, or infertility; or any combination of things that are overwhelming. They are sometimes referred to as The After People.

Trust is essential to a Stephen Ministry relationship. Confidentiality is one of the most important principles of Stephen Ministry! Even the care receiver’s identity is confidential. What a care receiver tells his or her Stephen Minister is kept in strictest confidence.


Small Group around a table discussing Stephen Ministry

If you or someone you know could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, you can contact our Lay Minister and Stephen Leader, Bill Boykin, for more information. If you want to talk about Stephen Ministry for someone else, make sure you get his or her permission first. Stephen Ministry is a caregiving ministry of our church and there is no charge.


Learn more by talking to one of Mt. Olive’s Stephen Leaders or Stephen Ministers. Training classes are a total of 50 hours divided into 20 sessions. Classes meet on Monday evenings. There is also a weekend retreat. Once training is completed, Stephen Ministers meet twice monthly for Continuing Education and Peer Supervision Groups. Stephen Ministers follow an application/interview process and make an initial two-year commitment to train and serve. Contact our Stephen Leaders, Bill and Aresa Boykin or Dianne BouFawaz, for more information.


Pastors will always be the primary caregivers, but there is no way that the pastor can meet all the needs for care. God has called all of us, not just pastors, to minister to one another. Pastor has commissioned our Stephen Leaders and Ministers so that they can multiply Mt. Olive’s caring ministry.

Stephen Leaders are the people who oversee and direct our Stephen Ministry. They recruit, select, train, organize, and supervise our Stephen Ministers. They also identify people in need of care, and match them with a Stephen Minister.

Stephen Ministers are the caregivers. They have been carefully selected and have completed 50 hours of training in Christian caregiving so that they can provide emotional and spiritual care.

Care receivers are people from our church and community who are experiencing any number of life’s difficulties such as grief, job loss, divorce, loneliness, hospitalization, and terminal illness. A Stephen Minister will meet with a care receiver once a week for about an hour for as long as needed.

Our congregation is involved in Stephen Ministry. They pray for Stephen Ministry every week. They provide snacks for training classes and meals for weekend retreats. They are also involved in finding persons who are in need of care. Members keep their eyes and ears open when caring for their family and friends, and when appropriate, mention the possibility of Stephen Ministry.

Where did Stephen Ministry begin?


Stephen Ministries Saint Louis logo with cross

Stephen Ministry began in 1975, when Kenneth Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist, trained lay people to multiply the caregiving in his congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. Today there are over 10,000 Stephen Ministry congregations in over 150 Christian denominations. The headquarters for Stephen Ministries is in St. Louis, Missouri.

Mount Olive’s Stephen Leaders


Portrait of Aresa and Bill Boykin


Bill and Aresa Boykin are two of Mount Olive’s Stephen Leaders. They became members of our church in 1999 when they moved to Columbia.  Bill is our Certified Lay Minister, who first became a Stephen Minister during his training in the chaplaincy program at a local hospital.  Aresa is a retired special education teacher and is very thankful to have more time to serve the Lord. Bill and Aresa became Stephen Leaders in January 2012.


Portrait of Dianne BouFawaz

Dianne BouFawaz joined the Stephen Ministry Leadership team in January 2014.  As a life-long member of Mt. Olive, a nurse, and a retired nurse educator, she brings another dimension of expertise to the leadership team.  Dianne became a Stephen Minister in 2013 and is very excited about her role in this distinctively Christian caregiving ministry!