Seminary Interns Assist With Multi-Cultural Ministry

Date Posted: 6/27/2013

When at-risk and gang-affected youth connect to positive adult role models, transformation is likely to follow. This summer, several churches and organizations within the Texas Annual Conference are forming a unique partnership to help train six young leaders from Duke Divinity School to engage in ministry involving students who are involved with the Juvenile Probation Department.

This innovative partnership is being spearheaded by Houston: reVision, a 501c3 non-profit organization that works year-round with the Juvenile Probation Department to provide students an affirming environment involving mentoring, education and outreach.

Interns are working on the Gethsemane campus of St. Luke’s UMC, Houston and with Westbury United Methodist Church, and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church to offer Freedom School on the campus of Westbury UMC from June 24 through August 2.

 Reverend Laralee DeHart, executive director of reVision, says, “We are thankful to have the assistance of the Duke interns this summer. The Freedom School program is targeted towards at-risk and marginalized children and youth, and helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. The Westbury program is also designed to empower reVision kids to embrace their leadership gifts and assume responsibility for various aspects of the program.”

 The Duke students come to us from around the country and bring various life experiences and ministry callings to this work. Amy Blevins is from North Carolina and is preparing for ministry as a Navy Chaplain. Kat Burgett is from Southern California and is discerning a call to serve as a theological educator. William Lucas of Beaumont and Brandi Tevebaugh from East Texas are preparing for ministry as elders in the Texas Annual Conference. Michelle Osborne is from Nashville, Tennessee and is discerning a call to serve in urban ministry and Christian community development. Jenna Purdy is from San Antonio and is preparing for ministry as an elder in the Southwest Texas Annual Conference.

“This is a prime example of local churches partnering to mentor young pastors – four of which will likely come back to the Texas Conference,” adds Rev. Justin Coleman, St. Luke’s/Gethsemane campus. “Duke leaders are very interested in Houston for its great diversity because they realize the future of the church depends on connecting to multiple cultures in innovative ways.”

"I am being shaped and molded to love more as Christ loved by my encounters with these kids," says Brandi Tevebaugh, senior at Duke Divinity. "They are kids that may not be encouraged at home or may not have adults that have time to spend reading with them.  It is my privilege to spend a few weeks on the floor with them sounding out words and to look them in the eye and say, "Good job!  I'm proud of you!"  Children really do have the spark and ability to teach us about the tenacious, excited, ever-growing, resilient, always active love of God.  Praise be to God for the children that will be present with us at Westbury UMC this summer!"


Duke Divinity Intern William Lucas adds, "Westbury UMC and Freedom School provide me with an opportunity to learn about the inner-workings of a multicultural and multi-ethnic church, ministry, and community.   Through all of these experiences and observations, I have seen what the Kingdom of God looks like.  Westbury and Freedom School exemplify this work, including the multidimensional, yet unified, picture of Christ's body, and I am so grateful to be a part of this vital work of the Kingdom."


Adds Laralee, “Through these summer experiences and other involvement with reVision and partner churches, these young leaders from Duke will be immersed in multi-cultural ministry and vibrant community-building in Southwest Houston. They will also learn how vibrant congregations can reach across cultural, educational and economic boundaries to transform the church as well as the communities around them.”

 For more information or to volunteer with Freedom School, please contact Rev. Laralee DeHart at or apply online at