Internships in the Great Plains Conference are a win-win situation for all involved.
The young people get experience in the church and social justice ministries while the organizations get fresh perspectives and eager workers.
This year 20 interns, ranging from incoming college freshmen to seminary students, are at work in the Great Plains. Seventeen of them began their journey with an orientation and introduction a few days before Memorial Day weekend at Camp Chippewa, near Ottawa, Kansas.
Abraham Ruffcorn, who graduated in May from Emporia State University, is a pastoral leadership intern headed to Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky this fall.
“I hope to keep growing spiritually and connect with a congregation,” said Ruffcorn, who is working at Bonner Springs UMC this summer, near his home church at Basehor, Kansas. “I want to not only grow my own faith, but to help other people grow in theirs as well.”
Spenser Johnson, Topeka, is entering his third year at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Illinois this fall and will be working with networks in Jackson County, Kansas, on his journey to become a provisional elder.
“This summer will be kind of like a boot camp to get me ready to be ordained,” Johnson said. “I’m open to the spirit, and I’m ready to learn.”
Ashley Achilles, who is entering Fort Hays State University this fall, is working with middle-schoolers in her home church of McPherson First UMC.
“Most of them I already know so I’m looking forward to getting to know them better,” she said. “I’m mostly hoping to be able to form a deeper relationship and a stronger relationship with God, so hopefully I can get some good habits going into college next year.”
Eiran Saucedo, also a Fort Hays State student, is part of the conference’s Micah Corps program. He will spend most of his time in Omaha, focusing on immigration reform with the group Omaha Together One Community, or OTOC.
“I’ve always had a passion for social justice, and my faith is something that’s very important to me,” the Haysville, Kansas, native said. “I’d never really tied them together, and I want to tie them together to better serve God’s people.”
Micah Corps, in its 11th year, is adjusting its focus by having some of its interns stay in one location throughout the summer to better serve social justice projects. While
Saucedo is stationed on Omaha, another Micah Corps member will be working in Topeka with the Justice, Unity and Ministry Project, or JUMP.
“It’s about trying to have an intern stay in one place for one summer to better engage what community organizing looks like and how to we bring that to the church,” said Maddie Baugous, who leads the group with Maria Penrod. “We’re building a better relationship with the church to do justice work.”
Baugous said the situation will help all involved.
“It’s a way to invest in the community rather than just being there for a little while,” she said. “We can teach them, educate them and, after Micah Corps is gone, empower the churches to do it themselves.”
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