New Counseling Ministry Begins at St. John’s “Hope for Today”: addresses pandemic, loneliness, and re-entry concerns

By Pastor Rhodes Woolly

It’s not easy living during a global pandemic, especially as we navigate the sometimes-lonely waters of quarantine and social distancing. In addition, anxieties are rising as we re-enter public space, trusting that our interaction with friends, family, and strangers will be safe.

Understandably, the country has been fixated on health data, hospitalizations, and vaccines. What is being less reported are issues surrounding mental health.

With that in mind, St. John’s is launching a new counseling ministry that is focused on the good mental health and well-being of all those struggling with the affects of Covid-19. Called “Hope for Today,” the ministry is available to those in the congregation and community at no charge so that those who need it most will not be discouraged by cost or the lack of insurance. The cost is being underwritten through September by two anonymous donors. Hoped-for grants will sustain the ministry until the end of the year.

The ministry is led by Lauren Stephenson, a professional counselor and member of St. John’s. Lauren is currently a mental health counselor at Catawba, working alongside students with a variety of concerns, including depression, anxiety, and grief.

There are three counseling resources that will be offered: 

AfterTalk: Comfort and Sharing for those Experiencing a Loss – This support group meets in the Well weekly on Tuesday afternoons from 4:30 -6 pm, starting June 23. It is open to anyone within or outside of St. John’s dealing with the loss of a loved one. This group will discuss the struggles of coping with their grief through group discussion, sharing, prayer, and meditation. Sometimes the best way to walk through grief and loss is by connecting with others who can relate and support you.

Finding Hope: Coping with COVID-19 and Our New Normal – This support group will meet in the Well weekly on Monday evenings from 5:30-7 pm and Wednesday mornings from 8:30-10 am, starting June 22. It is open to anyone within or outside of St. John’s struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, and/or fear due to COVID-19 and the related changes in our lives. Those interested are welcome to come once or come every week to share, connect, find support, and learn coping methods for dealing with our world today.

Individual Counseling – Lauren is also available to meet one-on-one with individuals both within and outside of St. John’s for 50 minute counseling sessions. These counseling sessions are best suited for anyone who feels uncomfortable meeting in a group setting, or who feels like they need more intensive, individualized counseling and support. These meetings will take place either in person in the St. John’s prayer room or online via video chat, based on the individual’s preference. Appointments are available Tuesdays-Fridays between 10 am-2 pm and can be made either by calling the St. John’s Office Manager, Deborah Cross, at 704-636-3431 ext. 200 or online at Since this is a ministry currently being offered for free, we ask that people follow through with appointments made or cancel/reschedule appointments 24+ hours in advance so that they can be offered to others.

Note about COVID-19: Please know that we will take every precaution necessary to help people feel safe while attending these groups and individual counseling sessions in person.


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