New student internships being offered in music, youth and children’s ministry

Date Posted: 1/28/2021

 By Lindsay Peyton
The Texas Annual Conference’s Center for Clergy Excellence is debuting a new and improved College Pastoral Internship Project this summer – CPIP 2.0. Enhancements to the program will provide new opportunities for college students to discern their callings.
Applications are currently being accepted for CPIP 2.0 with a deadline of Feb. 16. In the past, students who felt driven to become pastors were the primary applicants. This year, however, more students have a reason to sign up.
“There was a desire to expand CPIP beyond a strictly pastoral internship, to push the edges,” the Rev. Deborah Hawboldt, associate director for the Center for Clergy Excellence, explained.
The CPIP 2.0 program will offer interns a chance to explore other types of ministry as well, including youth, children’s and music ministry, in addition to the traditional pastoral internship program.
In the past, interns were sent to serve local churches across the Texas Annual Conference each summer. Students would stay with a host family and shadow the pastor at their host church. The goal of the program was to encourage a diverse group of gifted candidates to develop a clear sense of calling and commit to pastoral ministry.
In the newly expanded program, interns will also be able to shadow music, youth or children’s ministers if they are in interested in pursuing that route. Students interested in becoming pastors will still be mentored by pastors at local churches.  
“This will give them more variety,” Hawboldt said. “They may want to still be in church leadership but might not want to be a pastor. We wanted to open it up to more ministries. In the years to come, we may be able to open it up even more.”
Perhaps a music major is considering ministry or a student interested in early childhood education wants to explore more options. “This gives them a chance to step into the role and try it out,” Hawboldt said.
She added that the Center is also hoping to expand when CPIP is offered, eventually adding programs during the school year in partnership with churches in college towns.
CPIP 2.0 was sparked by a conversation Hawboldt had with Eddie Erwin, the Conference’s Director of Youth and Young Adults, in November, about a month after she filled the post.
“He planted that idea,” Hawboldt said with a smile. “He and I collaborated and brought other people into the conversation. Then, we took it to the clergy recruitment committee, and they thought it was a great direction.”

                                                                                           Photo taken prior to Covid-19.                                                                           
The current version of CPIP launched in 2007. “It’s now in its 14th year,” Hawboldt said. “It was time to look at how we were doing and how we could expand the program to continue to meet the needs of the church in the future.”
CPIP 2.0 is currently recruiting students and churches to be part of its reimagined program. The paid internship begins with an orientation retreat on May 17 and 18 and continues for the next 10 weeks. A reflection retreat will conclude the session.
Hawboldt said that interns build friendships together in addition to learning about the inner workings of the church. CPIP 2.0 can help with discernment, even if students discover that becoming a pastor or minister is not a path they want to pursue.
“That’s just as important,” Hawboldt said. “You haven’t wasted a summer. You’ve learned a lot.”
Jacob Dunn, a 21-year old senior at the University of Texas at Tyler, found the internship invaluable. He participated in CPIP last summer at FUMC Athens with mentor Pastor Jason Smith.
“I found it super beneficial, just seeing how things run in the church,” Dunn said. “It’s an experience I couldn’t put a price on.”
Pastor Smith even wrote Dunn a reference letter to Perkins School of Theology at Sothern Methodist University. Dunn was accepted to the graduate program and will start next fall.

“Going into this internship, I knew what I was called to do, but it further showed me where God was leading, the path I’m going down,” Dunn said. “If you have any interest in ministry, this internship gives you an insight into how things work, and you get to meet people who will be part of your journey.”
Hawboldt said that the application process is competitive. “We’re looking for those who really want to be here, who will bring their gifts to the local church,” she added. “If someone is brave enough to sign up to go into a church where they don’t know anyone, that already speaks volumes about their character.”
Before she joined the staff of the Center for Clergy Excellence, Hawboldt served as pastor at local churches and mentored interns. “I’ve seen how important this program is as a pastor,” she said. “I’m excited now to be the one who ushers in the next group of students.”
Hawboldt added that the interns energize the churches where they serve. “It’s really refreshing to see that God is still calling young people to ministry,” she said. “That’s what keeps the church relevant. God is still calling, and people are still answering that call.”
For more information, visit For churches interested in serving as hosts, email Ivana Wilson at