Every year at Resurrection, students are prompted to respond by standing, raising their hands, approaching the front, or to find an adult leader if they feel that God is calling them into ordained ministry. Three years ago, Jarrod Suits, our Director of Youth Ministries, and I decided to start following up on those who were beginning to discern that call. When I attended the ETSU Wesley Foundation there was a group called “Future Ministers of the World.” This program yielded ministers who now serve as youth pastors, employees at general boards, missionaries, and full-time elders. In a similar fashion, Jarrod and I brought together nine students who wanted to go into “some kind” of ministry. Over the course of that first year we spoke to what it would mean to become a clergy person in the UMC.
Fred Dearing, our District Superintendent, spoke to the group. Five of the students preached during Youth Sunday. We had classes in Wesleyan theology and spoke about the history of the Methodist movement. By the next year, the group had grown by a few people and we knew we needed expand our efforts. During that second year, the leadership was focused on leading a weekly worship service. We still had the theological and historical discussions. David Graves, our current District Superintendent, spoke to the group as well. And, somewhere in the midst of Christmas 2009, we realized that we needed to engage the students in a more dynamic experience of the church. One student attended the Candler Youth Theological Initiative, two more were promised admission to the Duke Youth Academy for the Summer 2011, and six attended International Christian Youth Conference on Evangelism in Seoul, South Korea.
It started to become clear that several of the youth wanted to serve in a local church sooner rather than later. We wanted to provide these students with the opportunity to learn and experience the church in such a way that if they were to be appointed in any capacity, they would be better prepared to serve effectively. We prayed about the possibility of a program that would facilitate the vision and hoped that if it was of God, monies and passion would come swiftly. This past fall, I had a meeting with one of our members who wanted to put their money into people rather than bricks and mortar. This individual seeded The Reid Brogden Endowment Fund that will amply support an internship program.
Starting this summer, we will have two ministerial interns being mentored by the staff at First Broad Street UMC. Everyday they will begin with prayer, devotions, theological training, and then they will shadow the staff and laity in different ministry areas. They will attend Annual Conference, participate in the planning of a middle school mission trip in Southwest Virginia, visit in hospitals, assist in worship, preach, plan Bible Studies, lead staff devotions, attend finance and trustees meetings, lead young adult ministry and more. They may even get to sleep. It will be an intense eight weeks they will never forget and we pray that it starts them down the path to serve in one of the churches within the Holston Conference.
The Rev. Amodei is associate pastor at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tenn.