By: Karla Hovde
Christina Johnson knew she was called to ministry, but it wasn’t until a hands-on internship last summer that she found the confidence to pursue a career as a pastor.
“The ELI Project got me started with tools, skills, and experiences to confidently move towards a career in ministry,” she said. “I was full of hesitation before my internship about my call, whereas now, I am much more confident in myself and in my call.”
Johnson is one of seven college students who spent summer 2019 exploring vocational ministry through the Minnesota Conference’s Exploring Leadership Internship (ELI) Project.
Johnson plans to participate in a second summer of exploring her call through “ELI 2.0”—an expansion of the internship program designed for returning ELI interns to explore ministry in a new way. In the fall, she plans to either start classes at Wartburg Theological Seminary or take a gap year before seminary to take part in Young Adults in Global Mission, a Lutheran international service program.
Applications are being sought for 2020 interns and host churches—and will be accepted through March 2. Learn more and apply.
What is The ELI Project?Through the ELI Project, up to 10 college students are placed in Minnesota United Methodist host churches for 10 weeks in the summer. Over that period, the host congregation invites the intern to gain hands-on experience by preaching and/or leading a Bible study, planning worship, becoming involved in a social justice or community outreach ministry, observing leadership development/discipleship ministry at the host site, and providing pastoral care. Each intern is paid a $3,000 stipend. By being involved in a wide variety of ministerial contexts, the intern has a taste-and-see experience of what it really means to be a pastor at a local church.
The ELI Project is now in its sixth year—and Director of Leadership Development Jody Thone, who leads the program, said the Minnesota Conference is seeing the success of the program as former interns pursue seminary education and become pastors.
Raising future leaders
ELI 2.0 is now in its second year. Whereas regular ELI interns take a deep dive within a single host congregation, ELI 2.0 interns gain a conference-wide perspective of ministry, visit a variety of churches, and help mentor the first-time interns. ELI 2.0 interns receive a $3,500 stipend.
The success of the ELI Project hinges on the partnership between local churches and the Minnesota Conference. Local congregations do the vital work of recognizing and encouraging disciples who are discerning a call to ordained ministry, and the Minnesota Conference offers those young people the space and the tools to discern that call. The ELI Project is an important and effective part of our shared work to make disciples for the transformation of the world.
How you can help
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church