The three recipients of the spring Culture of Call grants are all providing internships to young people interested in entering the ministry, the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford said.
“Internships are such a great way for churches to call forth a gift from somebody within the church and to go deeper,” Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator for the Great Plains Conference, said.
Crawford said internships provide a way to explore the young peoples’ gifts and see where God is calling them.
Church leaders have “seen somebody in their congregation, even as young as middle school, who has gifts for ministry and loves being in the church, and the pastors has identified someone who could go deeper and reflect more deeply and go behind the curtain a little bit to see how the church works,” she added.
The spring recipients, all from Nebraska:
Fremont First UMC: An internship for Paige Schroeder, a senior at Fremont High School, to strategically lead local and regional missional work.
“With tears in her eyes, she expressed that she believed God had been calling her since childhood to do mission work,” Rev. Melissa Gepford, discipleship pastor, wrote in the application. “She is considering ministry as vocation. We discussed the possibility of a summer internship as a way to invest in her discernment process. Her face lit up!”
Elkhorn Hills UMC: A 10-week summer internship for Melissa Heckens, a member of the congregation in her senior year at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.
"This summer ministry was something that Karissa expressed an interest in developing,” Rev. Rebecca Hjelle, Elkorn Hills pastor, wrote. “She sees that gap in our current summer programing and wants to find some ways to reconnect those who are returning to the area for summer break.”
Springfield First UMC: An internship for youth ministry would divide the youth group into separate junior high and senior high groups for better interaction, according to Rev. Galen Wray, the church’s pastor.
“The need for this project is to foster a safe environment in which young people can gather and be spiritually fed as well as to have fun and to do service,” Wray wrote. “Our current structure is limiting in that all youth are together which is great for community but limits interaction and also some programming which could be geared to different age levels. I’m passionate about this need in these days where school shootings and opioid addiction and other threats to life are hitting very close to home. We need to be a safe harbor for youth."
The fall deadline for Culture of Call grants is Sept. 15. Here is more information on nurturing a call in your church.