Meeting the needs of people physically, emotionally and spiritually is the goal of a new ministry sponsored by First United Methodist Church in Waxahachie.

Associate pastor of adult ministries Kevin Wilson will oversee the ministry, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 1.

“This program came about last year when several from our church attended training sessions in Corpus Christi in an organization called Stephen’s Ministry, which is a non-denominational entity,” Wilson said. “There were over 60 denominations represented and it was intensive training sessions of 50 hours. The ministry is basically merged from three different areas - Stephen’s Ministry, Health and Wholeness and the Faith Community Nurse Program.”

Wilson said Stephen Ministry’s, which will be headed up by Diane Szymczak, trains and commissions workers to reach out to people who are going through a difficult time by giving them encouragement and spiritual help.

“This program spreads the workload of the ministry throughout the congregation and relieves the pastoral staff of some of the ministry load,” Wilson said.

The church’s faith community nurse, Paula Susat, will direct the ministry’s Health and Wholeness aspect, which includes a biblically-based weight-loss program and a nutrition program to assist people in maintaining good health.

Susat also will direct the Faith Community Nurse aspect of the ministry, which will provide preventative measures to maintain good health such as blood pressure checks and healthy living tips. The ministry does not dispense medications, Wilson said.

The ministry’s outreach office/training center will be located directly behind the church at 608 W. Parks.

“Training for the Stephen’s Ministry will be ongoing and for trainees it will be a two-year commitment, but they can go beyond that,” Wilson said.

Seven Stephen’s Ministry workers will be commissioned soon and future training will be held at the center. Applications will be received in the spring, with classes to start up in August.

For further information, call the church at 972-937-4400 or e-mail

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