Getting Direction at the Crossroads


College is a time when people are making decisions about how they will spend the rest of their lives. Most college advisors don’t have ministry in mind when it comes to guiding young people toward a path. The Missouri Conference is progressively trying to help college students and churches connect in a meaningful way to help young adults determine if ministry as a career is something in their future.

The Crossroads College-Age Internship program seeks to give a variety of opportunities for those exploring working within a ministry setting. This year the Missouri Conference Center for Pastoral Excellence has seven college students participating in the internship.

They started with a three-day training in May at the Missouri Conference Center. In addition to the training they also did some mission work by painting in the basement of Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church in Columbia, the area where the church hosts a free dinner every night for people in need.

When summer started, the interns dispatched to their respective churches. Some continued to live where they were going to school, and interned with a local church. Others moved for the summer into housing provided by the churches.

Director of Pastoral Excellence Karen Hayden has been impressed with what she’s seen from the interns so far.

“The depth of their theological knowledge is astounding,” she said.

At a group meeting in late June, Hayden asked the interns about how they had been experiencing God during their internships.

Abby Peper has been interning at Faithbridge in Osage Beach, working with youth. The church has youth, but not an organized youth group. As she works to form that, she turned to the adult leader of youth at her home church, Wesley UMC in Jefferson City, for advice.

“She said ministry is hard because you have to rely on other people,” Peper said. “I’m trying to put it in God’s hands and remember I don’t have power to do it all.”

Olivia Hampton is interning at her home church, Saint Paul UMC in Joplin. She had just returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua, in which the theme was Love is Greater than Distance.

“It’s amazing to see how much (people in Nicaragua) enjoy life when they have no electricity, running water, nothing,” she said.

Darrick Strzelecki had been doing X Games with the youth at Liberty UMC, and was preparing for a youth trip to Tennessee. This is his second year as an intern.

“I feel like this year we’re a lot farther ahead than we were at this time last year,” he said. “I’m trying to feel my way through what it means to be a youth pastor. It’s so much more than sitting at a desk and developing a message for Sunday evening. I’ve been designing and executing programs, and making a lot of trips to Wal-Mart.”

Sarah Stone is interning at a Webster Hills, so she got to experience a change in pastors while there.

“It’s really hard for some congregation members to say goodbye because they get attached to their pastor,” she said. One of her responsibilities was being in change of a Vacation Bible School class for 13 kindergarten children.

“It was a learning experience for me, and it took a lot of patience.”