Summer in Sarpy County by Spenser Johnson

Great Plains Interns


           As summer began, and I was starting my internship as a Pastoral Intern at Springfield First United Methodist Church in Springfield, Nebraska, I was not prepared for the experiences God was about to bless me with. I distinctly remember requesting to be placed with a church in an inner-city area with an urban environment. I have a degree in criminal justice and sociology so I was so ready to work with a marginalized group in society like the impoverished, homeless, gang members, and misguided individuals. I had mentioned that being placed in a rural church would be my last choice. When I found myself being matched in a town of around 1,500 people I was surprised to say the least.

            I was blessed with the opportunity to be an intern with the Great Plains Conference in March of 2017.  This opportunity came at a time when I am seeking candidacy for ordained ministry as an Elder. I will be attending Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary starting in September to pursue my Masters of Divinity. I have a passion for people. I want to serve God and show compassion to His children especially those who feel oppressed by society. To me, this summer is an opportunity to “test drive” the position of an Elder in the United Methodist Church before I fully commit.

            Some of my perceptions of a rural church were completely wrong! Yes, there are cows and grass, but there are also businesses and economic development. Where there is an economy there are people, people who need to hear the Good News!  I did not think I would be busy as an intern because of community’s size, but I was so off!  I have already participated in 2 funeral services, a memorial service, a baptism, and pastoral care. I am involved with weekly worship, Sunday School, weekly liturgy, assisting in communion, developing sermons, developing and delivering devotionals on social media.  I am attending committee meetings, praying at senior meals, assisting with the food pantry, and participating in an expansion meeting.  I traveled to Annual Conference and attended Springfield Days, an annual celebration of the towns founding.  It is only the middle of my third week!  I have learned that as a pastor I will have a busy schedule, but if I manage my time wisely and take care of myself it is a wonderful vocation.

            I also did not expect the wonderful hospitality that would be given to me.  I am staying with a wonderful host family, who treats me like family. They are not only providing me a place to stay, but provide support for the summer. I also enjoy their Black Lab!  The local congregation and town people have accepted me into their community and I have already come to appreciate a local hot spot—the soda fountain at the drug store.  One family in particular has welcomed me with open arms. The church’s secretary has taken me to watch her children play baseball, we have visited the local drive in theater, and have become friends. She could sense that I was missing my family in Kansas and made me part of hers.

            I love the parts of my calling where I get to listen to God’s children.  I recall one of my first experiences visiting a couple who missed church on Sunday morning. The elderly couple had a late night at their high school reunion the night before and had trouble getting out due to problems with the lift on their stairs. As we partook in the Lord’s Supper together the husband, who is 93 years old, told me that he is willing to make compromises in the church if it means expanding the Kingdom of God. He touched my heart because at a time where there seems to be a split of emotions in the United Methodist Church, he was willing to meet someone half way to keep unity.

            I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to experience the duties of a United Methodist Pastor if God did not bring me to campus ministry. God has a plan for us all. For me, I believe it is ordained ministry.  I know that God has called me to Springfield, Nebraska this summer to feed his sheep.