Turning Internships into Jobs
The Missouri Conference Crossroads internship program aims to assist young people with spiritual development and leadership advancement in an environment where they experience a sense of community. There are opportunities to do this in either your home church or a church you travel to. Olivia Flagg-Bourke did both and ended up turning her internship into a part-time job that she continues to work at while in college.
Flagg-Bourke grew up as a church kid at Kirkwood UMC. As a child, rather than going to Sunday school herself, Flagg-Bourke preferred to go to the Sunday school class her mother was teaching and be her 8-year-old assistant, so she could play teacher. When she was older she would volunteer as a baby sitter at the church during choir practice.
“I was at church about four nights a week,” she said.
She learned about the Crossroads internship program from a youth-group intern from out-of-state who spent the summer at Kirkwood. The next year she was the summer intern there.
“That was kind of strange because some of my younger friends were in the youth group that I was organizing,” she said.
At the University of Missouri-Columbia, Flagg-Bourke got to know Madi Denton, who was running the campus ministry at Missouri UMC. Denton suggested that Flagg-Bourke intern at the church in Columbia over the summer. She did that for two years.
That first year she was leading Sunday school and planning and coordinating Sunday night activities as well as big events, like the youth groups trip to Love Well, a national United Methodist youth event in Kansas City, and a massive garage-sale fundraiser.
Things were quite different during this past summer of COVID-19, with more of a “sharpening the saw” pace.
“There was a lot of catching up on logistics, updating forms, lesson planning and room renovations,” Flagg-Bourke said.
She also did a Facebook Live message each week, a blog post and an Instagram post.
“They liked the 3-5 minutes Instagram version of the message,” Flagg-Bourke said of the youth.
At the end of her summer internship, she was hired by Missouri UMC as a part-time youth director. She’s looking forward to resuming in-person gatherings.
“Watching kids want to come to church, rather than coming because their parents make them, is my favorite part of this ministry,” Flagg-Bourke said.
Flagg-Bourke’s youth group has been online this year. She’s hoping to transition soon to a hybrid model of both online and in-person gatherings.
“I surveyed the parents about how comfortable they would be with us having in-person gatherings and there was overwhelming support for it,” she said. With Columbia public schools being online only since March, she believes many parents are feeling a strong need to get the kids out of the house.
Flagg-Bourke isn’t the only intern who was able to turn her internship into a part-time job after this upside-down summer. Central Methodist University student Macy Block is in the same position.
Block grew up in First United Methodist/Presbyterian Church in Montgomery City. She was involved in church since serving as an acolyte as a small child and had an opportunity to speak there a couple of times. She is now a senior at Central Methodist University in Fayette, majoring in Religious Leadership, with plans to attend seminary when she graduates.
She learned about the Crossroads internship program from Kayla, the campus minister at CMU. She initially planned to serve at Grace UMC in St. Louis, but when the pandemic started causing shutdowns she decided it would be better to stay with family in Columbia and intern at Community UMC. There she worked with Revs. Angela and Curtis Olsen on improving ways to engage their congregation through online ministry.
“It was such a blessing,” she said. “They were both so gracious.”
Block researched ways other churches were helping their congregations stay engaged, and surveyed the congregation regarding how they were feeling and what the church could be doing better.
At the end of the internship, Community decided to hire her for 10 hours a week. She is currently assisting with a weekly community chat that Pastor Angie does before each online worship service, and is helping coordinate online small groups and Bible studies.
For more about the Crossroads Internships, go to www.moumethodist.org/crossroads or view the video at www.vimeo.com/368064092