Pastoral Interns Enjoy, Recount Summer of Service and Discernment

Date Posted: 7/25/2011

Thirteen college students recently explored their calls to ministry through the Texas Annual Conference College Pastoral Intern Program, which is now in its fifth year. The following are their reflections on their summer experience. Please keep this class and all previous interns in your prayers, as they continue to discern God’s will for their life in ministry.

 

Layne H. Davis

Church Home: Marvin UMC Tyler

Church Internship: First UMC Caldwell

School: McMurry University

 

“I have been answering a call into the ministry since I was 16,” said 19-year-old Lane Davis. “When I heard that the Texas Conference had a program that allowed college students to work in a church in a pastoral capacity, I knew this was something I had to do in order to not only be assured that this is what God is calling me to do, but to get some hands on experience to further prepare me for what I will be doing in the future.”

Davis’ ministry experiences were diverse, ranging from leading worship and Sunday School, designing and teaching a Bible study, preaching three times, camp, mission trips and more. The future pastor also did work that will last long after he leaves Caldwell, such as working on the church Web site and creating an evangelism campaign.

“I learned that being the pastor of a church is without a doubt what God is calling me to,” Davis said. “I learned that my gifts are in teaching, preaching, and various aspects in pastoral care, and evangelism… And, I learned that God will work in unexpected and amazing ways through not only the one He is calling to be the pastor, but also through the lives and ministries of every member of the body of Christ, even when you least expect it.”

Welcoming was the first way Davis said the laity contributed to his life altering summer. “This congregation welcomed me as if I had been a member here my whole life,” he said. “They also always asked if I needed anything. I received encouraging letters, food, and small gifts. This congregation made sure that every need or want I had was met. And with the help of this congregation, I was able to sharpen and improve my teaching, preaching and various other aspects of my ministry.”

Although the summer’s lessons seem innumerable, Davis recounted several ways in which he saw God moving: “I saw the power of prayer work in amazing ways. In bible study, I saw a deep hunger for the Word and I saw how the Word transforms people into the very image of Christ. I saw how showing love – to those that seem unlovable to those that don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, don’t act like us – can break through even the hardest of hearts. And, I saw that when we – the body of Christ – call upon the name of Lord and ask for His guidance, His blessing, and His intervention we make the impossible possible.”

 

Spencer Hickman

Church Home: First UMC Houston

Church Internship: First UMC Hallsville

School: Texas Tech University; entering Perkins School of Theology

 

Spencer Hickman said he wanted a fun summer job and a place to see what being pastor was really like. He got just that through the College Pastoral Internship Program.

 

His duties included “a little bit of everything a pastor does,” he said, from preaching, bible study, summer camp and mission.

 

And, what did the 22-year-old recent college graduate learn about himself? “I have so much to learn,” he said.

 

When asked to sum up the summer with only two words, Hickman replied: ordered chaos or chaotic order. Both are quite often the perfect scenario to watch God work.

 

Cameron Losoya

Church Home: First UMC Bay City

Internship: First UMC Livingston

School: Wharton County Junior College

 

Seeds planted by former pastoral interns are already taking root. Cameron Losoya was inspired to apply for the program by interns who served in his church a few years ago.

As an intern, Cameron said he was at the church Monday through Thursday and also on Sunday mornings. He gave devotionals, taught Sunday school, and did some visitations with hospitalized people and nursing home residents.

“I’ve learned that God might be calling me to something I never thought I would be going to.  At the beginning of the summer, I knew exactly that I was going into music and youth [ministry],” he said. “Now I’m a little questionable about it.  I think I might be being called to elder ministry.”

The experience was “vastly intriguing,” Losoya said, adding that he was surprised to find God at work heavily in the youth department.  “The youth here have a great love for God.  In my home town, the youth are not as motivated for God as the youth are here,” he said. “There are some that post scriptures on almost every post that they post on Facebook, and after getting to know some of them, they really are trying to live the way of Jesus.  It still amazes me that there are youth that are that strong in their faith.”

Like those youth, Cameron is growing in faith and especially loves the scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Patricia Lund       

Church Home: Grace UMC Hearne

Church Internship: First UMC Fulshear

School: Baylor University

 

Organizing a “Stay Mission” (which is a 3-day project to help those in the Fulshear/Katy/Houston area), for junior high youth and leading a small group for senior high youth girls, were among Patricia Lund’s biggest summer responsibilities.

Additionally, the 19-year-old was her mentor pastor’s faithful shadow – at hospital and shut-in visitations, at church committee meetings and more. One Sunday, Lund wrote and delivered the children’s message. Every Sunday, she helped by serving communion, reading scripture, offering an opening prayer or leading the call to worship.

“One of the greatest things I had the chance to do was be a part of worship planning with the music director and pastor and have my voice be valued and heard,” she said. “I preached at the Texas Annual Conference offices and once at the church I was serving. Also, I went on a mission trip to Jamaica with my host church. My most important responsibility, though, was to ask as many questions as I could, so I had the opportunity to learn as much as I could about the life of a minister.”

Lund, who said she has always been involved in church and contemplated being a minister many times, was encouraged to apply for the internship by the Wesley Foundation leader at Blinn Junior College, from which she recently graduated. “I knew this internship was for me,” Lund said. “Being a small town girl, I knew it would take something on such a large scale to help me figure out God’s call for me.”

“Something I learned about myself through this internship is that I am my happiest when I am working at a church. As many long hours and days I have worked, it has always been fun and I have been very happy the whole time. With that being said, I’ve also learned I am just a bit of a workaholic and it is something I have forced myself to work on throughout the program.” 

Where did she see God at work this summer? “I saw God at work this summer through the remodel of the sanctuary at FUMC-Fulshear. So often, small churches don’t get enough credit for all they can do. However, this church is proof that a small church can do so much work for God,” Lund said. “The church knew their sanctuary needed to be updated to attract younger families to worship God. It has been amazing to see the building transform to match the attitude and level of motivation that the members of this church have. I can’t wait to see it completed!”

Rebuilding the youth group represented another move of God. “The youth program here has kind of been unstable, so a part of what I was supposed to do with my bible study for the senior high girls was to help them get interested in youth again… This is a memory I will always hold in my heart as a reminder that no matter what has happened in the past, the future can always be rebuilt with help, trust, and a lot of faith in God.”

 

Rebecca Mitts

Church Home: First UMC Conroe

Church Internship: Deer Park UMC

School: Sam Houston State University

 

Rebecca Mitts plans to become an ordained minister, so, she had good reason to apply for the College Pastoral Internship Program. “I want to learn as much as I can about the church and to see where I can best serve as well as listen for where God is calling me,” she said.

This summer, the 21 year old did everything from answering the phone, crafting sermons and leading the college Sunday school class, to meetings, visits, leading Vespers on Wednesdays at a retirement facility and writing about her experiences for the Deer Park UMC newsletter.

“I learned that I have a lot of gifts — public speaking, listening, interacting with those who are ‘on the fringes’— but a lot of areas I still have to work on — spiritual discipline, emotional boundaries, my wounds from my father’s death,” Mitts said. 

Overall, Mitts described the internship as deeply fulfilling.

When asked where she saw God at work, she replied: “I saw God just about everywhere I turned, everyone here is filled with such love, I always felt comfortable coming into work. I saw God the most, though, work within me,” she said. “And I do not mean I did anything spectacular, but God has brought me such peace and patience this summer when I had none. I felt God within me constantly now; a warm place inside that glows with joy and serenity. I have never felt it before, and I know it is God.

“Not only that, but I saw God in nature; in the trees, in the clouds, in the wind…it was amazing how much I found myself marveling at God’s creation.”

Worshipping God in nature seems like a natural fit for one whose favorite scripture is John 4:21-24: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 

 

Michael McVey

Church Home: Texas A&M Wesley Foundation/Friendswood UMC

Church Internship: Wesley UMC Nederland

School: Texas A&M University

 

Michael McVey said he spent the summer doing everything the pastor of the church assigned him to do.  From office work to reading scripture at a funeral to hospital and hospice visits, McVey said through the tasks he “learned how to interact with the congregation and become a true servant of Christ.”

 

What else did he learn? “That a minister’s job is not an 8 to 5 job; it is a full time occupation, much like a doctor on call,” he said. “You must be ready to be a servant at any time and be there for your congregation at a moment’s notice.  You are the hands and feet of Christ at all times, and in all places.”

Among the most significant moves of God McVey witnessed, were the simple acts of kindness and warmth the parishioners showed him and being a chaperone at Lakeview.

“The people of Wesley UMC Nederland are a special group of Methodists – they welcomed me warmly and with open arms, I feel so loved in their church and I am not looking forward to leaving.  They are a true representation of Christ’s love and acceptance,” McVey said, adding that, “It was amazing to watch God change so many lives at the Lakeview Camp that I was overwhelmed.  The guys in my cabin were so funny and devoted to Christ it made me sad to leave the camp.  My great-great grandfather was Pat Thompson – “Granddaddy Thompson” – one of the founders of Lakeview, and if he were to see all the good that goes on in those summer camps, I know he would be proud.”

“Complete blessing” are the two words that McVey used to sum up the summer.

 

 

Emily Peterson

Church Home: Bulverde UMC San Antonio

Church Internship: Westbury UMC Houston

School: University of Texas at Austin

 

For a long time, Emily Peterson has felt a call to ministry, but said she was never able to narrow it down and discern exactly where the Lord is calling her.

“So, I applied for the College Pastoral Internship Program because I knew it presented the best setting in which I could begin the process of really discovering God’s plan for my life,” she said.  “Interns do everything! I really have gotten to experience all the ministries on the spectrum.”

During church services, she has read scripture, led prayers, helped with Communion, and preached. In addition, she had the opportunity to lead Bible studies and small groups; chaperone the youth UMARMY mission trip and work with the summer camp program coordinators. Her work didn’t stop there. Children’s ministries, lock-ins, administrative meetings, church councils, prayer groups, and participating in baptisms and funerals all helped round out her duties.

The laity and leadership of the church were also a great blessing to her: “This summer I saw Christ represented in the community of believers at Westbury UMC. His love was manifested in their hospitality and service,” Peterson said. “His grace was exhibited in their friendships and fellowship. Each day, the people of Westbury ceaselessly amazed me with their open hearts and humble attitudes and with their passionate desires to know and be known by the Lord.”

Transformative and insightful are ways Peterson described the experience, which not only taught her about ministry, but about herself.

“God also did a great work in my own heart this summer,” Peterson said. “He uncovered some truths that were buried deep inside me. He taught me a great deal about my own strengths and weaknesses. Mostly, I saw God tilling the soil of my heart, preparing me for what’s in store and calling me to join in his plans for the world, the Church, and my own life.”

 

JC Simpson

Church Home: First UMC Floydada

Church Internship: League City UMC

School: Texas A&M University

 

After working as a youth intern during the summer of 2010 at Aldersgate UMC in College Station, JC Simpson said his pastor and youth director urged him to apply for the pastoral internship program. “After looking into it, the idea of getting to explore my call into the ministry in the setting provided by the program, I was more than excited,” Simpson said. “Just the chance to serve God and to learn in a new setting was more than enough motivation.”

The majority of the 21-year-old’s responsibilities revolved around shadowing the host pastor on a day-to-day basis. “I got to be involved in everything from leading the boys’ youth group to answering phones in the church office. I had the opportunity to preach on a Sunday morning, participate in UMARMY, make hospital visits, make trips to shut-ins, participate in our homeless ministries, and many other awesome experiences,” Simpson said, describing the internship overall as “humbling” and “awesomeness.”

The laity of the church also added to the “awesomeness.”

“I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with many laity of our church, and they had a large impact on how the church views the pastor and what it means to be in a leadership position in the church,” Simpson said. “They allowed me to see many different perspectives of what the church is, what it does, and where it is going, along with my place in it.”

When asked where he saw God at work throughout the summer, Simpson responded: “A better question is where did I not see God at work. One of the main places I remember seeing God was in the life of the church staff and in the way they interacted with the congregation. The way that my church’s staff was in constant search of the will and face of God stunned me every day.”

 

Cameron Supak

Church Home: Clear Lake UMC

Church Internship: First UMC Port Neches

School: Texas A&M University

 

An invitation from his home church pastor motivated 21-year-old Cameron Supak to spend the summer shadowing a senior pastor and engaging in all forms of ministry, from preaching and teaching to pastoral care.

“I applied because I felt that God was calling me ministry in some facet and knew that this would be a wonderful opportunity to explore a career in ministry,” Supak said. “One of the things that this internship has shown me is that no matter how good I am, I can do nothing unless it is blessed from God. If God doesn’t lead me and prepare the way for me, then I will not be able to succeed.”

Supak said he saw God working everywhere from the mission fields of UMARMY to the pulpit of FUMC Port Neches. “Each day I see God change lives for his glory. I have seen God use the gifts he has given me to touch lives in the way I interact and care for the congregation.”  

And, the laity of the church gave the intern a different perspective on how the church works. “Having interacted with the laity, they have shown me the importance of having dedicated staff members who have the church’s wellbeing at the forefront of their minds,” he said.

Dedication and love are tenets of Supak’s practice in ministry. His scriptural motto: “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward you serve the Lord Christ”(Colossians 3:23-24), which is underscored by his favorite song – “How He Loves,” by the David Crowder Band.

 

Alex Westbrook

Church Home: Wesley UMC Nederland

Internship: First UMC Chandler

School: Lamar University

 

Nineteen-year-old Alex Westbrook applied to the College Pastoral Intern Program to grow closer to God and to better see what God’s plan is for him.

 

Throughout the summer, he participated in every aspect of First UMC Chandler’s worship services, and also led worship for the contemporary service; chaperoned UMARMY and summer camp, and while in the church office, experienced the ins and outs of the behind-the-scenes church work. He described the experience as tremendously life-altering.

 

The internship’s lessons were different from those he learns at Lamar University. “I learned that once God gets a hold of you, He’ll never let go and you will be doing things that you never thought you would be doing,” Westbrook said.

 

When asked where he saw God at work this summer, his answer was, “everywhere.”

 

“I have written a few worship songs and one of them is called, ‘There With Me,’ and God was certainly by my side,” Westbrook said. “Every day, I could see Him working and it has just been a wonderful experience.”

 

Austin Woods

Church Home: Montgomery UMC

Church Internship: First UMC Livingston

School: Lon Morris College

 

Not only does Austin Woods feel called to ministry, the 19 year old also felt called to his recent summer of exploration. “I was presented with this opportunity multiple times and I just felt like God was calling me to apply,” he said.

 

In addition to leading Bible studies, worship services and youth events, Woods also started a sports ministry and music ministry. Top that off with visitations to church members throughout what he described as a “silently noisy” summer.

 

“I’ve learned that I am more independent when it comes to the work place,” he said. “I also show favoritism toward the ‘Emerging’ style of worship.”

 

Like the other interns, Woods said God was busy this summer. “The real question should be where did I NOT see God during this summer! If I were to choose one big thing (where) I saw God’s presence, it would be through the youth, while they prepared themselves for their mission trip to Belize!”

 

Additionally, Woods was also impacted by the laity in his ministry setting. “It was astounding to see just how many volunteers it takes to keep the church running!” he said. “I have a sound respect for the laity and all they do!”

 

The mutual respect for the laity as ministry partners is a solid foundation for Woods, as he strives to live out his calling and commission as defined by his favorite scripture, Matthew 28:16-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

Other interns include: Spring Woods UMC member Ashlie Sivley, who served at Deer Park UMC, and First UMC Lake Jackson member Justin Mikulencak, who served at First UMC Atlanta.