Stephen Ministry beginning at FDCF

An international ministry that provides one-on-one counseling is starting up at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility in what leaders believe is the first time the ministry has joined up with a prison.

Stephen Ministry began more than 30 years ago, according to Stephen Leader Larry Lubinus, of Boone.

It began when a clinical psychologist and Lutheran pastor began training lay people to help him out by working with people who needed help, but they weren’t at the point where they needed to see a therapist.

“He developed a very methodical curriculum,” Lubinus said. “It’s a 50 hour class, 50 hours of training. You’re in a position where you’re a Stephen Minister. It’s a one-on-one caregiving ministry.”

According to Lubinus, he and his wife, Cindy Lubinus, were asked by the corporate level of Stephen Ministry to consider taking their ministry into local prisons.

It was decided to start with the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility.

Lubinus said he and his wife have been involved in prison ministry for more than a decade.

“We came in and did their training,” Lubinus said about Stephen Ministry. “The Fort Dodge people opened up a time for us because it’s two and a half hours. We meet twice a month, and it takes 10 months to finish.”

As of now, there are seven inmates who are part of the Stephen Ministry as well as two outsiders who come into the prison and work with the inmates.

To his knowledge, Lubinus said this is the first time Stephen Ministry has offered its services to prison inmates.

Being a Stephen Minister provides an important resource.

“They provide a listening ear to other inmates,” he said. “We said, ‘why don’t we teach them how to listen better and offer the right type of listening ear?'”

Lubinus said Stephen Ministry works together with already-established mentoring programs, so that there’s other resources available.

“It’s not really a chance to tell them how to do anything, but it’s a chance to help them sort through how to figure out the answers for themselves,” Lubinus said.

The seven Stephen Ministers were officially commissioned on Sept. 14.

Lubinus added that another Stephen Ministry class will be starting in December and there has already been interest among inmates for that class.

In addition, a class will be starting on Oct. 18 for inmates at the Newton Correctional Facility.

Lubinus said he believes everybody will need the help of a Stephen Minister at some point.

“Everyone needs someone to talk to that’s going to be held confidential, someone who will listen and not judge,” he said. “I can’t imagine anybody ever going through life and not needing that at least one time.”