By: Christa Meland
David Hodd felt a nudge toward ministry for a long time, but an internship last summer solidified his desire to be a pastor and helped him discern that ministry truly is his calling.
Hodd is one of eight college students who spent summer 2015 participating in a hands-on learning experience through the Minnesota Conference’s Exploring Leadership Internship (ELI) Project, specifically designed for those exploring a call to vocational ministry. He interned at STORM Faith Community, which consists of three house churches, and Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in Inver Grove Heights. He assisted with worship, made pastoral visits, and led STORM Camp, where youth spent a week serving the community and worshiping.
The internship helped put Hodd on a ministry career path. Shortly after his internship ended, he became director of youth ministry at Spirit of Hope United Methodist Church in Golden Valley.
“The ELI Project is a great way to tap into the knowledge of people who are in ministry to see where you can fit,” said Hodd. “I know I want to be a pastor. I’m not sure in what capacity or what shape that…congregation might be in, but I know I want to lead a group of people in the name of Jesus.”
Applications are being sought for 2016 interns and host churches—and will be accepted through Feb 1.
After gathering for a week of orientation (May 31-June 3), which will include trips to seminaries and an opportunity to learn about the United Methodist Church, each intern will be placed at a host church or organization for eight weeks (June 5-July 31). Over that period, the host congregation will invite the intern to gain hands-on experience in a wide variety of ministerial contexts—and involve the intern in intentional reading, spiritual formation, and reflective discussions to help him or her hear and discern God’s call. A three-day wrap up (July 31-Aug. 1) at the end of the internship gives students an opportunity to reflect on their experience.
“This internship solidified my desire to be a pastor,” said 2015 Intern Lee Miller, who spent the summer at Uptown Church in Minneapolis. “I want to be able to share God’s love that I feel so strongly and be able to help others see that God is still relevant. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Host churches and the clergy mentors from each one got a lot out of the experience too.
“My intern sought my wisdom on all things ministry and was open to my processing questions and it was wonderful,” said Rev. Nate Melcher, associate pastor at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis and a 2015 clergy mentor. “What a blessing it was to bounce ideas off and receive feedback from a person who is on the inside but from the outside.”
Every intern in 2016 will have the opportunity to:
-Preach and/or lead a Bible study or devotional
-Be involved in a social justice or outreach ministry
-Observe leadership governance at host site
-Provide pastoral care
Interns will receive a $3,000 stipend, $2,000 of which will come from the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry and $1,000 of which the host church is expected to provide.
The first year of the internship program was made possible thanks to a $60,000 grant that the Minnesota Conference received in 2014 through the global United Methodist Church’s Young Clergy Initiative, which aims to increase the number of young clergy leaders. Members of the 2015 annual conference session voted to increase the 2016 conference budget in order to continue the program for another year.
Visit The ELI Project website for more information or to apply to be an intern or a host church. You can also stay connected to The ELI Project through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church