Meet Rachel Roark
Rachel Roark’s journey to – and through -- the Texas Conference College Pastoral Internship Program has taken several God-shaped turns. “I grew up in a nondenominational church and stumbled upon Klein UMC by accident during high school when I was looking for a youth group to join,” shares Rachel. “I grew in my faith, community, and relationship with God, and I felt called to ministry shortly after graduation.”
Learning about the TAC College Pastoral Internship Program, Rachel felt this opportunity would be a great next step. She was matched with Rev. Karen Jones of Center FUMC for 10 weeks that ended up being inspirational – for both of them.
Notes Rachel, “This internship has given me the opportunity to find God in new and different areas of my life. I’ve also seen God through the sweet faces in the congregation and through various ministries and worship styles.”
This is the second time that Center FUMC has hosted an intern via the TAC Emerging Leaders program. “Our first intern went on to become our youth director,” Karen says,” so it’s a win-win for all involved. Honestly, I wish I’d had someone to pour into my life during my college years and I might have gone into ministry in my 20s instead of my 40s. We have been blessed this summer to know God is using our church to bring clarity to Rachel’s faith journey and call to ministry.”
Rachel admits her excitement at how much she is seeing God at work in rural East Texas. “This internship has truly helped me discern my calling to ministry and has stretched and grown me in ways I could never have imagined,” she says. Rachel can sense her confidence and faith getting stronger. “Pastoral ministry is like a million ministries in one and I’ve loved every part of it,” she says. “I see God at work in myself. “During my personal quiet time I feel God’s presence in new ways.”
While Rachel grew up in a big city and a contemporary church environment, she has embraced the rural setting and traditional worship environment at Center FUMC. “Building on her home church experiences, Rachel recently planned a special contemporary service as a special gift to the church and the community,” Pastor Karen shares. “She did an excellent job getting musicians, decorating the space, getting the word out and preaching.” While attendance at Center FUMC averages 120 on a Sunday morning, the evening event drew 87 people from three denominations, and was the highlight of her summer. Adds Karen, “It was her idea and she took care of everything. It was a good way to put into practice what she had been learning through the internship, and people are still talking about it.”
The internship has given Center FUMC the chance to be a teaching church, and Rachel the chance to be a learner and take risks in a safe environment. “I thought preaching would be my least favorite part,” shares Rachel, “but once I got up in front of the congregation for the first time, I could feel God speaking through me.” To prepare her four sermons, Rachel has drawn from topics that have impacted her own life. “I try to bring a message that I would love to hear myself,” she says.
Rachel plans to continue studying at Lone Star College but fully expects to share her leadership skills in a church again someday. “I am realizing how excited I am for the next chapter of my life,” she says.