Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Internships: Rounding Out the Classroom with Practical Training

Internships are a significant piece of the seminarian’s experience. The seminary classroom component serves its very important purpose; but the opportunity to receive pastoral mentoring, wisdom from elders, and experience in the pulpit is not only necessary, it is vital to the growth and development of men called to serve in Christian ministry. Summer internships fulfill these roles and more.

Several Greenville Theological Presbyterian Seminary students had the opportunity this summer to participate in an intern program throughout the country. From New Jersey to California, Reformed churches heeded the call and took on the task of welcoming a seminarian to their local body for the summer months. Among them were Mike Myers and Chris Cashen, both students who were given the opportunity to serve as interns this summer.

Mike, Nate & Katy Myers
From Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Elmer, New Jersey, Mike Myers wrote that his internship has been invaluable. “I have been able to preach every Sunday night, and will be preaching morning and evening on a number of occasions,” he said.

Mike was given the opportunity to take part — even take the lead — in counseling and discipleship of members. He said the Faith OPC family welcomed him and his growing family. Mike, an Army lieutenant, summarized his summer intern experience, writing, “Our experience here has been overwhelmingly positive. God has used this time to deepen in me a love for His Church and to help confirm for me that He is calling me to serve in the Gospel ministry.”

Chris & Grace Ann Cashen with daughters Katie and Anna
Across the continent, Chris Cashen was given the opportunity to serve as intern to Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Orange County, California. Chris said the congregation at Westminster graciously accommodated him and his entire family with a wonderful, fully furnished and equipped home for the summer. He said Pastor B.J. Gorrell, one of the first GPTS graduates, exposed him to many varied pastoral experiences, including pastoral home visits, and provided valuable “real-time” counsel throughout the entire summer. 

In June, the church treated Chris and his family to a week at “Family Camp,” where they were able to experience the interaction between various churches and individuals throughout the Presbytery of Southern California. Like Mike, Chris was given opportunities to teach, to lead worship, and to exhort during corporate worship at Westminster OPC, as well as at a retirement home situated next to the church.

Chris, an attorney, noted that “the members of the church, the elders, and the pastor of Westminster have been a blessing to me personally in so many ways . . . and also to my family. Not only was I able to experience the pastoral ministry from the inside, but my entire family experienced the love and fellowship of the larger body of Christ.”

Other students serving interships this summer are Lowell Ivey, New Jersey; Michael Hutchinson, Wisconson; Jeremy Logan, Ohio; Jeffrey Carter, North Carolina; Rob Dykes, South Carolina; and Bryan Prouty, Colorado.

Internships are not limited to summertime. Some churches in the Greenville area have made it a practice to use GPTS students for long-term internships. Fellowship Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greer, S.C., for example, last year extended a full-year internship to Steve Walton, who will be followed shortly by student Stephen Cook when Mr. Walton, a 2012 graduate, leaves to take up his new ministry as an Army chaplain and church planter in Germany. Previously, Fellowship has previously provided internships to Brazilian students.

Joshua Sparkman has served for two years as intern at Greenville’s Second Presbyterian Church (PCA) under Pastor Richard Phillips and the pastoral staff.

He has taught classes, preached, visited the sick and shut-ins, helped lead a singles group, counseled, preached in prison, attended session and presbytery meetings, and assisted in worship.

“Weekly pastoral staff meetings have been of the greatest service in developing a love for [the] church. In these staff meetings I got to observe how mature God-loving men sought to take care of the local church,” says Joshua. “Secondly, I have had the privilege of spending one-on-one time, twice a month, with Pastor Paul Settle, who is currently helping me further develop a view of the pastoral ministry that expresses itself in love and service to God and His church.”

He adds, “One aspect I like most about Greenville Seminary's curriculum is how few ecclesiastical and pastoral classes there are, because the seminary desires the Lord to develop the students' pastoral heart and love for the bride of Christ in the context of the local church.“

Again, these experiences serve not only to supplement, but to round out a seminarian’s experience and training. Good pastors, elders, and churches are needed to fill this very important component of seminary education. If your church is interested in having an intern for the summer, or for a longer term, please contact Dr. Tony Curto, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687 or e-mail Registrar Kathleen Curto at registrar@gpts.edu.