What is BeFriender Ministry?

BeFriender Ministry is a lay pastoral care program.
Trained lay persons enter into caring relationships with those in need of pastoral care,
providing emotional and spiritual support.

How do BeFrienders do this?

BeFrienders provide a nonjudgmental listening presence to those they visit.

How much counseling is involved in befriending?

BeFrienders are not counselors and do not give advice.

Are BeFrienders expected to solve problems?

BeFrienders listen; they do not solve problems or impose solutions.
BeFrienders also discern with the people they visit
whether referrals to professionals or agencies are appropriate.

How long is the training?

A BeFriender candidate receives about 20 hours of training and serves
a short internship before becoming a BeFriender.

What topics are covered in training?

The training addresses issues such as grief and loss, spirituality, listening, and confidentiality.
Many of the skills learned are applicable to any relationship in a person’s life
in addition to BeFriender relationships.

Being a friend seems natural, so why is training necessary?

Being a friend does come naturally to many people. However, skills such as active listening
and offering respectful, nonjudgmental responses can be a benefit from training.
BeFriender Ministry training enhances gifts and qualities the person already has.
And God always has more in store for us to learn!

Is there ongoing support for BeFrienders?

Yes. BeFrienders meet regularly in supervised small groups
for reflection on their ministry and continuing education.
As a volunteer, I want to grow personally and spiritually.
Does BeFriender Ministry provide opportunities for growth?
Yes. BeFrienders learn to appreciate both the commonality and individuality among people.
Respect for others is deepened, as is awareness that we are called to be fully present
to each other, not only in this ministry but in all parts of our lives.
BeFrienders often gain a deeper understanding of unity in Christ
by learning to more deeply value the experience and perspective of each person
they encounter. Befriending demonstrates how
Christ calls us to be together in our joy as well as our pain.

What do BeFrienders do?

BeFrienders (volunteer lay ministers) provide pastoral care to people
in difficult and transitional situations, such as illness, loneliness, or loss of a loved one.
They embody the caring presence of God and of the community and serve as
a living reminder of God’s love. BeFrienders are trained to provide a listening presence to others,
not to be experts in whatever situation they might encounter. The core concepts
and skills learned enable a BeFriender to enter into any situation and provide compassionate,
empathic care. BeFrienders can be called upon in crisis situations just as they would
be in non-crisis situations. Whatever the circumstances of the person being befriended,
a BeFriender can be a companion. BeFrienders accept people as they are without telling them
how they should be, listen with compassion without giving advice, and allow others to
make their own decisions without trying to decide for them.
By providing spiritual and emotional care, BeFrienders provide an opportunity for those
they befriend to make choices and to grow.

What do BeFriender Program Leaders do?

BeFriender program leaders train and support BeFrienders in offering care,
a nonjudgmental presence, and active listening.

What are the BeFriender small group meetings about?

BeFrienders participate in regular small group meetings with the supervision of the BeFriender leadership team. The meetings provide accountability and growth,
and assist BeFrienders in their ability to listen, to be nonjudgmental,
and to put aside their own prejudices or desire to give advice.
If BeFriender relationships are discussed, fictitious names are used
and identifying details are eliminated in order to honor confidentiality.

Who do I contact for more information?

Pastor Janice Kuder: (715) 754-2690
Nancy Heiman: (715) 823-2086
Mary Miller: (715) 754-2236
BeFriender Ministry copyright © 2004 University of St. Thomas.
May be reproduced for local use only.