Internships help in discernment process for ministry


By Beth Fender
IGRC Coordinator of Discipleship and New Streams
Rev. Randy Robinson, lead pastor at Danville St. James UMC, hadn’t planned on hosting an intern. When I initially called to invite him to apply, he actually put off returning my call. When I finally got him on the phone, he claimed there was just too much going on at the church.
Brandon Divan, a young adult from nearby Oakwood, who had served as an intern in his home parish in the summer of 2012, wanted to continue discerning whether God might be calling him to ministry. He was looking for a church near his home in which he might serve during the summer of 2014.
Once the Holy Spirit and the IGRC Intern Program brought these two together, amazing things started to happen. Brandon is now planning to attend seminary following the completion of his college degree, and the St. James congregation had such a great experience that they invited Brandon to join their staff for the summer of 2015.
If this were an advertisement for a diet supplement, I would feel obligated to add something to the effect of “these results are not typical. Your results may vary depending on physical condition, lifestyle, and diet.” And while it is true that not every intern experiences a life-changing affirmation of a call to full-time ministry as a result of the intern program, and not every church chooses to hire their intern the following year, it is also true that amazing things often happen when young adults and churches or other ministries step out in faith and spend time intentionally discerning God’s direction.
IGRC interns have served in a variety of churches and ministries. Some have fed children through ministries such as Eagle Ridge Child Outreach in Carbon Cliff, the Sandoval Shalom Zone, and TWIGS in Granite City. Others have served in children’s ministry, youth ministry, music ministry, or shadowing the pastor in local churches from Geneseo to Decatur to Metropolis and many others in between. Still others have served through the IGRC Camping Ministry. Some former interns are now in seminary, while others are serving as pastors, youth directors, music ministers, and in other paid and volunteer ministry roles.
So how about you? Are you discerning God’s call? Are you open to the challenge of walking alongside a young adult as he or she discerns? Applications for this summer’s Intern Program are available at and will be accepted until March 1. Additional information is available in a handbook downloadable at the same web address, and questions may be directed to me, Beth Fender, at or 217-529-2611.