It was an emotional time. Telling the story now sometimes brings back memories that are sort of tender.
It was in the summer of 1994. I’d had a long-time relationship with a woman here at St. John’s - I thought marriage was in the cards. One night she asked if I would come up to church and go to a service with her. After the service we went to the balcony to talk and she told me that our relationship had ended. It was a kick in the gut. The Stephen ministry was meeting that day in the baptistry. They were singing ‘Amazing Grace’, and I was thinking ‘There isn’t much grace here tonight’.
I went home and called a friend who lives near the church and he said, ‘Come over and let’s talk about it’. On my way there, I stopped and did a screeching left turn when I saw Chip Letton walking out of the church. I had seen him before with his Stephen Ministry badge. I rolled down the window and said, ‘Are you a Stephen Minister?’ He said, ‘Yes’ and introduced himself. He asked what was going on and I told him. Without checking a calendar, he said, ‘What about having lunch tomorrow? Do you know where the Racquet Club is?’
I’d never shared this kind of story with any man before. I’m thinking ‘this is a little weird, I don’t know this guy, but he’s a member of the Racquet Club, so he’s probably ok’. That’s how our relationship started – at lunch the next day.
For a long time, it was just me re-hashing the same story about this relationship. The topics changed after a while. At some point we got into career, and job, and my mother. We met for two years, until we both decided the formal relationship could stop. We had gotten to know each other a lot better and we've been friends ever since.
I got married, and in 2001 my wife and I decided together that we would participate in the Stephen Ministry here at SJD. I remember Larry Hall saying that this ministry was at the root of what we do here at St. John the Divine, and I wanted to do that to pay back the Stephen Ministry for their care of me.
I’m no longer a Stephen Minister formally, but there is someone from St. John’s that I see regularly that’s ill. He has other friends that he could meet with, but we’ve talked about his situation, which is pretty guarded. A lot of times when these situations come up I feel like I don’t know what to say. The Stephen Ministry, and Chip particularly, has helped me. His mantra was ‘Just show up’. It made all the difference. Just showing up.
~ Jim Lober
Stephen Ministers are dedicated Christians and trained lay members commissioned by our congregation to administer confidential in-depth caring. A Stephen Minister is someone who will offer Christian love and support, visit with you weekly, listen, provide resources and referrals, and pray with and for you. For more information, see the Stephen Ministry page or contact the Rev. Louise Samuelson, email@example.com.