College Pastoral Interns Enjoy Summer Ministry Experiences

8/13/2015

Pastoral interns served as guest speakers in chapel services with the TAC staff this summer and shadowed church leaders to have a better idea of what day-to-day ministry is like.
 
“This summer has truly been a growing experience for me,” Ethan Cutrone says, describing his pastoral internship. “My new church family at First United Methodist Fulshear has shown me what it truly means to serve an active, growing church. We have served the community together and have grown in faith, always looking to God for answers to our challenges.  In spite of having different viewpoints on occasion, we still come together to give God the glory and to serve those around us through our VBS, our Summer Arts Camp, and our first annual Fourth of July Pie Giveaway. Overall, this program has not only affirmed my call to ministry-- it has taught me how to better minister to all kinds, not just the people like me.”

At Servants of Christ United Methodist, Susan Imes has also had a taste of daily church life. “I've gotten to preach, lead small groups, and attend meetings. Servants of Christ is unique in some ways,” she adds, “I also designed a nine-square-in-the-air court, went to an organizational meeting for a Foster Care and Adoption worshiping community, and worked twice a week in the kitchen at our homeless day camp. While I've learned about my strengths and weaknesses, I'm mostly grateful for this incredible community and its hospitality!” 
 
As Jeremy Bass reflects on his summer internship at Chapelwood UMC, Lake Jackson, he realizes he has learned a lot about himself and his call to ministry. “I enjoyed shadowing Rev. Peter Cammarano and seeing firsthand what a pastor does,” shares Jeremy. “This includes all the meetings, the food pantry visits, the meetings, hospital visits, the meetings, youth and children's ministry, oh and the meetings. I'm really going to miss all the people here at Chapelwood.
 
For pastoral intern Allyson Penny, the summer has been filled with many new adventures at FUMC Lindale. “I have had the opportunity to participate in annual conference, hospital visits, lunch with retired pastors, worship planning, volunteer work at the local food pantry, district camp, UM Army, Wednesday night youth activities, and -- best of all –preaching,” she shares. The summer has also involved meeting many new pastors and lay leaders “who gave me great advice on different opportunities and paths that lie before me.”

In addition to conducting her first funeral, Allyson has done a great deal of planning. “I planned Sunday school lessons, worship for youth mission trips, and different weekly events happening at the church.”  To compensate for the busy pace, she also learned the importance of quiet time with God. “It is so important for church leaders to have a sound mind to fully help those around them.”
 
Investing In Each Other
Allyson says her mentor, Rev. Rick Ivey, “has helped me grow in my faith/scripture life by giving me passages to read from the Bible and then discussing them with me. He has stretched my comfort zone by having me go on hospital visits on my own, by having me speak at a funeral, and giving me other leadership roles. I have been able to come to retired pastors and an encouragement team with questions and frustrations and they have given me advice as a helpful support group.”
 
Reflecting back and looking ahead
“At the beginning of the summer and after attending annual conference,” admits Allyson, “I was sure that I was in way over my head and that God had chosen the wrong person for this internship. However, this summer has assured me that ordained ministry is the path God is calling for my life. I am planning on continuing my studies towards Aerospace Engineering at UT Tyler and will start my search on where I would like to go to seminary.”
 
Sarah Bohannon expresses similar sentiments, saying, “My internship experience at FUMC Center has been an eye opener. I have been a certified lay servant for seven years now and have only filled the pulpit before. I am surprised how busy a preacher can get during the week. I felt like a VIP behind the scenes, except I was an intern and had to do work. I finally understand how much work the preacher actually puts into the church. This internship has reaffirmed my call God has given me and has shown me a new perspective on ministry work.”
 
Yet another intern to enjoy “exploring church from an insider’s point of view” is Devin Spence who spent his summer at First UMC Mineola. “For the first time, I was viewed by the church as an actual adult and my words held more power than just a young woman looking for God as I was perceived in high school. I was able to solidify that my call to ministry does not look like me behind a pulpit but, instead, me carrying out the gospel in a secular setting. By talking with friends and strangers alike at annual conference, I learned that my call to connect millennials to the church is shared by pastors and lay people all over the TAC.” During the summer months, she adds, “I was also able to pour prayer, love, and joy into 14- year-old girls at Lakeview who match me with enthusiasm, innocence, and a craving for Christ. I was able to preach to an older congregation, helping to restore their hope in my generation’s heart for God, and I experienced Kairos, UM Army from a leadership vantage point, and just an opportunity to grow in my faith. While this was hands down the most challenging summer of my life, it forced amazing growth and reflection, and I am so thankful.”
 
Madison Garcia traveled four hours from home to serve this summer at Atascocita United Methodist Church, Humble with Rev. Deborah Proctor. “Asking specifically to work with a woman clergy member was a great decision and Deborah has been the perfect leader for me, along with mentoring from our newly commissioned associate, Cameron Supak. This congregation and staff at AUMC just picked me up and loved me instantly.” Madison has learned about the technical side of ministry by having some kind of responsibility in every single worship service. She adds, “So from that, I've learned about the joy of impromptu speaking and learning how a different church does things. I worked at Vacation Bible School, worked with our youth director and gone to District Camp and to Big House where I was the speaker.” Adds Madison, “I now feel more confident as I face future career and schooling decisions. I have learned a lot about my gifts and a lot about my boundaries. I am so grateful for this opportunity and have fallen more in love with my calling and God's presence in my life in this process.”
 
At Cypress Trails UMC, Spring, Lisa Sampson “absolutely loved every minute -- from attending three weeks of camps to preaching my first sermons and fellowship with the amazing members of the church and community.” Notes Lisa, “ I have learned from the best about what it means to be in full-time ordained ministry, and I have regained a sense of empowerment and fulfillment that has been missing for quite some time. This has been one of the best summers of my life, and I have been truly blessed by this experience.”
 
Full Circle: Former Intern Mentors Current Intern
This summer, St. John’s UMC, Rockdale hosted pastoral intern Tyler Skrapka, a student at Stephen F. Austin University from Christ UMC, Sugarland.  As Rev. Adam Straznicky reflects on this time he says, ‘Mentoring a pastoral intern was special for me as I was among the first class of Pastoral Interns in 2007. I remembered the lessons learned and the experiences shared. The exposure to ministry as a pastoral intern is part of my story and my journey. This summer experience is now part of Tyler’s story and will go with our pastoral intern for the rest of his life and lead him to discern his calling and enjoyment of ministry for many years to come.”
 
He says that Rockdale may be a far cry from Sugarland, but the mission field is robust. “The experience with our summer intern has been an experience of witnessing God working in not only the pastor and intern, but the entire church and the community at large,” he shares. “St. John's embraced Tyler as he helped lead worship, went on pastoral visits, observed funeral services, attended Bible studies, attended church meetings, interacted with youth, went to camp and a mission trip, and navigated the extensive social engagements in which a community oriented pastor participates.  All of these experiences were followed up with reflection and learning to explore a deeper pastoral, theological, and social understanding of all experiences in ministry.” 
 
Tyler is quick to share how the internship experience also had a notable impact on him. “At the beginning of the summer and even into last semester, I was skeptical of what God was doing in my life and I was dragging my feet. I'm so glad that I decided to apply for this internship because I have loved every second of it and it has confirmed God's call for my life! I have had the amazing opportunity to serve as a college pastoral intern at St. John’s UMC, Rockdale this summer.” Adds Adam, “The two months of hosting a pastoral intern went by entirely too fast.  I wish this chapter of the story could go longer, but the story continues for our intern, just as it did for me.”
 
Pastoral Internship Program: Part of the Emerging Leader Initiative
The TAC Center for Clergy Excellence is seeing the pastoral internship for college students as a program that encourages a diverse group of gifted young candidates to enter pastoral service in the Texas Annual Conference, and to equip local congregations to identify and encourage persons with appropriate gifts and graces and a clear sense of call to commit to pastoral ministry.
 
Under Bishop Huie’s direction, the Emerging Leaders Initiative offers innovative opportunities for the practice of ministry through four primary programs:
1. Texas Youth Academy, a two-week summer program for high school students.
2. College Pastoral Internship Project, a 10-week immersion in the life of a     church.
3. Ambassador Grants, helping young clergy retire their seminary debt.
4. Advancing Pastoral Leadership, an advanced discipleship program for young pastors who demonstrate the highest potential for leadership.
 
“We have raised nearly $4.5 million to date,” adds Bishop Huie. “and I would like to see our conference raise at least $10 million for the Endowment to ensure that these critical programs are always fully funded so that we are consistently cultivating and nurturing new generations of young, gifted, diverse people.”
 
“The ELE is a fundraising project unlike any other that the conference has undertaken in the past,” adds Bishop Huie. “When it is fully funded, the endowment will ensure that the programs can function without the need for ongoing fundraising or additional apportionment funding. We invite you to join us as we prepare the next generation of United Methodist leaders.”
 
Applications for Ambassador Grants are due August 17. For more information on how to donate to Emerging Leaders or how your church can apply to host an intern next summer, contact Barbara Eoff at beoff@txcumc.org or Rev. Elizabeth Duffin at eduffin@txcumc.org