Thanks to generous funding from the denomination’s Young Clergy Initiative and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, four college students served as interns in the Western PA Conference this summer. Students applied for the program because they felt some sense of call to ministry. The internships were designed to give them opportunity to explore that call and discern the next steps.
Noah Manalo, a Pitt student from Christ UMC in Bethel Park, says he applied because the opportunity “would allow me to explore all aspects of ministry life, especially those I’ve never really experienced from a leadership role.” Noah served at Oakland UMC in Johnstown. While he had been trying to narrow his sense of call he found God expanding his vision through the summer.
“I found that I greatly enjoyed planning and leading a “Minor Prophets Bible Study.” I enjoyed prepping the opportunity I had to preach. I enjoyed connecting and mentoring in the children’s and youth ministries. I enjoyed the things I had the opportunity to do in pastoral care. Even the things I didn’t necessarily love, I found I could do,” he says. Noah feels called to seminary, but is waiting to see where that journey will take him.
Another intern, Charlene Acham, who served at Homer City UMC says the program “has given me an opportunity to go outside my comfort zone and to serve a community I wouldn’t usually serve.” She goes on: “I have learned to be a better listener and to work with those who don’t have the same views as I do.” Charlene, a member of Ingomar UMC, continues to discern a call to ministry that may take her outside of the local church, perhaps focused around evangelism.
Somewhat different from others, Josh Kennedy came into the summer with a clear sense that he might be called to pastoral ministry. Josh served at Trinity UMC in McMurray and says the internship “helped me find my gifts and my struggles in a pastoral setting.”
Josh, a student at Baldwin Wallace College, said he is thankful for the internship experience. Although he said he still feels a need to discern more deeply, the summer “allowed me to see that I am called to be a minister.” This is a serious commitment. Josh knows first-hand the blessings and challenges of serving in the itinerant system, having grown up as a “preacher’s kid.” His dad Tom Kennedy is currently serving as pastor of Latrobe UMC.
Autumn Hunkele came with different expectations for the internship. She felt a specific call to youth ministry and wanted an opportunity to dive into that particular work. Autumn did this at Ingomar UMC where she said the internship “was helpful in that it showed me the behind the scenes of the church, with staff meeting and mission trip planning.” However, now that the summer has concluded,
Autumn finds herself considering other routes, including possibly pastoral ministry. She is a sophomore at Geneva College this year and says “I don’t yet know which form of ministry would be the better option for me, but I do strongly believe I am being called into some form of vocational ministry.”
“While their call and experience varies, each of these young people continues to sense God pulling them into vocational ministry. We are excited to see where there journey leads and are making plans to remain connected as they continue their college days,” said the Rev. Susan Moudry, who coordinated the internships as a Conference staff member. If you know a student who would be interested in this opportunity next year, connect them with Susan at email@example.com.
“Please join us in praying for Noah, Charlene, Autumn and Josh,” Susan said. “Pray they will continue to grow and strengthen the leadership of our churches and communities in whatever way God calls for years to come. They have been a blessing to us.”