Tag Archives: Intern

Summer Interns to Serve and Learn

by Jennifer Svetlik, Salford congregation

Listening for God’s calling. Serving their home communities. Learning from new communities. Cultivating pastoral skills. These are some of the hopes that six interns bring to their time of service and formation with Franconia Conference this summer. They come as part of the MCC Summer Service Program, the Ministry Inquiry Program, as well as the Conference’s own summer placements.

As part of the MCC Summer Service Worker Program, Jessica Nikomang will work at Philadelphia Praise Center. This summer she will direct a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for kids ages 5-12 as well as work with the Indonesian community around the church and her neighborhood, providing translation support and other help. After the summer, she will begin studies at the Community College of Philadelphia as a first-generation college student in pursuit of her dream to be a school counselor.

This will be Rebecca Yugga’s second summer serving at the Crossroads Community Center in partnership with her home congregation, West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship. Rebecca studies Nursing and Spanish Language/Hispanic Studies at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). She will be planning activities for children and build on leadership skills and strategies she cultivated in the program last year.

Graciella Odelia

Graciella Odelia will serve at Nations Worship Center, which has been her home church since 2013 and where she is an active member of the worship team. Graciella studies Biology and Chemistry at Eastern Mennonite University. She will be organizing the summer VBS program in July and August at Nations Worship Center.

“Seeing kids excited to worship God makes me look forward to what God has in store for the next generation. By participating in the MCC Summer Service program, I hope to discover how God can use me in His church,” Graciella shares.

Andrés Castillo

As the Conference’s summer placement, Andrés Castillo, a member of Nueva Vida Norristown New Life, will serve as a communication intern for the conference. Andrés studies English at West Chester University. More of his writing, photography, and videos will be shared on our website throughout the summer. Andrés is excited to make connections in his communication work between Christ’s teachings and the social issues about which he’s passionate.

Justin Burkholder, who attends Deep Run East, will be working with the conference’s south Philadelphia Indonesian congregations. He will be serving with the peace camp at Indonesian Light Church as well as summer VBS programs at other congregations. Justin is in Intercultural Studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

“I grew up traveling into Philadelphia just for ball games or cheesesteaks and I was disconnected from the lives of people living in the city,” Justin shared. “I am looking forward to building relationships and learning what it looks like to serve the church and community in South Philly.”

As part of the Ministry Inquiry Program, Luke Hertzler, who studies Bible, Religion and Theology at EMU, will be working with Whitehall and Ripple Allentown congregations. Luke will help at Ripple’s Community Building Center and garden and test out gifts on Sundays at both Ripple and Whitehall.

“We hope Luke will bring new ideas and energy. Right now we are forming gift groups at Ripple and I hope Luke can give some direction to this new model,” Danilo Sanchez, co-pastor for Ripple Allentown shared. “Internships are important to Ripple because we care about raising up leaders. Ripple is a different kind of Mennonite church and we like to show young adults that pastoring and church can take a variety of forms.”

Summer interns are an important part of Franconia Conference’s commitment to leadership cultivation. “Each year it is a gift to interact with this next generation of leaders. We learn alongside them and contribute to their formation in the way of Christ’s peace,” Franconia’s executive minister Steve Kriss shared.

We are grateful for and look forward to sharing more about the work that these six young people will offer Franconia Conference this summer!

The good news is still breaking

Steve Krissby Stephen Kriss, director of leadership cultivation

“After a sermon like that, I just want to cry,” commented octogenarian Roma Ruth, reflecting on Salford intern John Tyson’s debut sermon on Sunday.  John is an Eastern Mennonite University and Christopher Dock High School grad studying now at Princeton Seminary.  His internship represents the best of flourishing conference, congregation, and community relationships.  He is learning alongside his old high school history teacher, Joe Hackman, who is now Salford’s lead pastor.   I’m serving as John’s official supervisor for the year, a role I’m happy to fill as the conference’s director of leadership cultivation.

Roma’s family helped to start the small mission church in Somerset County, Pa., where my family first connected with the Mennonites.  Now, almost thirty years later, I am the one cultivating new generations of leaders.  In the seven years I have worked for the conference, it has been both a challenge and a joy to do this kind of work, helping a historic community navigate into the realities of next-generation leadership.  I’ve worked with dozens of interns, students, pastors.   I continue to witness amazing and sometimes disturbing things.  It’s not easy to be a next-generation leader in the church.  There are lots of bang-ups and bruises.   What amazes me, though, is the willingness of young people to invest in our broken but beautiful communities in spite of, and sometimes because of, this very brokenness.

Roma told me that her tears were from the realization that John’s sermon spoke powerfully to issues of the Good News, justice, and peace that are close to her heart.  She recognized in the sermon yet another turning of the page.  It’s a gracious realization that God continues to call forth new leaders in nearly 300-year-old congregations in a half-millennia-old tradition in ways that are both resonant and discordant with the past, but nonetheless harmonizing with the way of Christ across the generations.

I am becoming more and more aware that the Spirit is increasingly calling leaders across ethnic lines, calling women, calling people born outside of the Mennonite fold into our contexts of worship and ministry.  These men and women are highly skilled, highly committed, willing to be vulnerable, willing to contribute without thought of compensation, often living somewhere between patient and zealous, believing in both constancy and change.  Of course there are still areas of growth, but overall the gifts of next-generation leaders are like the gifts of the magi—appropriate, overwhelming, full of mystery and grace.

It is fitting that John’s sermon was on Epiphany, a time of celebrating the gifts of those coming from another place, marking the inbreaking of salvation, wise to the ways of the world, bearing with them what they hope will witness to a beautiful new beginning embedded in a real and historic story.   Our community’s challenge is to have the courage, wherewithal, and imagination, along with the spiritual rootedness, to understand and celebrate that God is still with us and that, as John said in his sermon and Roma affirmed this last Sunday at Salford, “the good news is still breaking.”

Philadelphia Praise Center to host EMU ministry intern

by Mike Zucconi, EMU

EMU MIP Program
EMU's MIP students, from left to right: (first row) Rose Jantzi, Rebekah Enns, Erika Bollman, (second row) Jossimar Diaz-Castro, Joel Nofziger. Photo by Mike Zucconi.

A group of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) students will begin summer internships with congregations throughout the U.S. as part of Mennonite Church USA‘s Ministry Inquiry Program (MIP).

Funded in part by Mennonite Church USA, the MIP program gives students an opportunity to explore their gifts for ministry and to test their possible calling to longer term service work for the church.

“The opportunity for students to test their gifts and to be mentored by seasoned pastors is truly invaluable,” said Carmen Schrock-Hurst, instructor in the Bible and religion department and director of MIP at EMU.  “The insights that these students then bring back to the classrooms in the fall will greatly enrich the learning environment on campus.”

Erika Bollman, a second-year student in EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and a member of Emmaus Christian Fellowship in Boise, Id., will intern at Philadelphia Praise Center in Philadelphia, Pa. “The purpose of Erika’s placement is to that she can be a part of the urban immigrant congregation,” said Aldo Siahaan, pastor of Philadelphia Praise Center.  “It will help her to understand our challenges and the function of leaders and the church in our context.”

Other participating students

  • Jossimar Diaz-Castro, a junior philosophy and theology major and a member of the Early Church in Harrisonburg, Va., will intern with Iglesia Discipular Anabautista in Harrisonburg. Diaz-Castro has the opportunity to “go deeper into the areas of teaching, preaching and working with the youth,” said Schrock-Hurst.
  • Rebekah Enns, a junior history, peacebuilding and political studies major and member of River East Mennonite-Brethern Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, will intern at Fourth Street Community Church in Washington, D.C. Enns will be working with the homeless population, providing meals and legal counseling. In addition, Enns will host youth groups from suburban Korean congregations who come to the city for an immersion experience.
  • Rose Jantzi, a sophomore elementary education major and member of Iglesia Discipular Anabautista and Harrisonburg Mennonite Church, will intern with Highland Retreat in Bergton, Va., serving as staff chaplain and Christian nurture coordinator. Jantzi will be involved with pastoral care, teaching and worship planning with both staff and campers.
  • Joel Nofziger, a junior history and peacebuilding major and member of Pilgrims Mennonite Church in Akron, Pa., will intern with the Washington Community Fellowship Center in Washington, D.C. Nofziger will be working with a multi-denominational evangelical congregation affiliated with the Virginia Conference of the Mennonite Church located near the Capitol.

Hands-on experience

At the completion of their 11-week placement, students in the MIP program receive stipends towards their continuing education at a Mennonite college. In addition to Mennonite Church USA, funds come from EMU, the host congregation and conference, and the student’s sending congregation and conference.

“The MIP program is a win-win for the denomination, local congregations, students, participating colleges and for the broader church,” said Schrock-Hurst.

This summer, Mennonite Church USA anticipates having over 20 students in the MIP program from five Mennonite colleges participating in the program.

For more information on the Ministry Inquiry Program visit emu.edu/bible/ministry-inquiry/.


Holy Hospitality

By Ben Sutter, benjamins5@goshen.edu, Franconia Conference CommunicationsBen in the coffee shop

One thing I’ve experienced this first week of living in Philadelphia is hospitality. I arrived last Monday at one in the morning and was picked up by my boss, Steve Kriss. Steve took me to his own house, because my more permanent housing arrangements hadn’t been settled yet. He welcomed me into his life and his work for three days, allowing me to live with him. He embraced my questions and my musings as he began to describe the city and the conference. He helped me start recognizing and thinking about the nuances and characteristics that I would run into in this new setting. I felt acknowledged and accepted into his work in the conference. Steve showed me only the beginning of the incredible hospitality that I have encountered in my first eleven days in Philly.

Last Wednesday I was welcomed into the home of Pastor Aldo, one of the pastors of Philadelphia Praise Center. Aldo lives in a home with five other Indonesian young men and an older woman we call “Ibu” or “mother”. I’ve come to dearly love staying in this house, even though I’ve barely been there a week. Everyone in the house is busy, but they’re all interested in each other’s lives. Food is a very important part of how we relate to each other. Almost every time I open the front door and come back to the house, the first question I’m asked is if I’ve eaten yet. Whoever is home at mealtime eats together. I fill my plate with rice and noodles and Ibu always tells me that I need more. She takes my plate from me and adds at least one more heaping spoonful.

My roommates Yonathan and Ardi have embraced me as a friend and brother in Christ. They’ve taken me around the city and shown me the ropes. Yonathan showed off Chinatown and the Redding Market, while Ardi explained the train system to me and took me to the train station to buy my ticket to work. They’ve treated me to food, buying me McDonalds and Phileo Yogurt. We hang out together in the evenings, watching TV in the house and walking around the city.

This past Sunday, I attended my first services at Philadelphia Praise Center, one in Indonesian and a second in Spanish. I was amazed at everyone’s willingness to include me. People welcomed me as I walked into the sanctuary, shaking my hand and saying “hello,” “hola,” or just giving me a big smile. Even though languages were different, communication was possible.

In the Indonesian service, I listened to the message through a translator speaking into a head set. The songs weren’t translated, however, and many were sung in Indonesian. Most of the songs showed English translations alongside the Indonesian words on the screen in the front of the church, but I found myself drawn to singing the Indonesian. It was too hard to follow both the English translation and the Indonesian words sung by the congregation. Singing the Indonesian words, even in my poor pronunciation, made me feel apart of the community. It didn’t matter if I knew exactly what I was singing or even if I was doing it well. All that mattered was that I was joining the community in praising God. I could tell that at the core of whatever I was singing, God was being praised—God received the glory.

I’m excited to see where this summer takes me. I have felt embraced by the conference and supported by its people. I recognize the presence of God in the relationships that I’ve begun to foster and the barriers that I’m beginning to help break down. I pray that as I continue my work, I will continue to see God’s dream for the world revealed in authentic and tangible ways.