By Stephanie Brady | Ministry Intern serving at Cheney United Methodist Church

I have been blessed beyond belief to serve as the pastoral intern at Cheney United Methodist Church. The congregation has welcomed me with open arms. Pastor Alissa Bertsch Johnson has opened my eyes to all that a pastor does.

I have been at Cheney UMC for just about a month. In that time frame I have had the chance to learn so much about being a pastor and about our Methodist tradition. I didn’t start going to a Methodist church until I was in my later years of high school, so I never had the opportunity to attend confirmation. Pastor Alissa decided that this internship would be a perfect time for me to learn more about John Wesley and and the distinct characteristics of the church. I’m finding it all very interesting. 

In these last few weeks, I have had the chance to observe the various hats that a pastor wears throughout a week. On one of my first weekends here, I accompanied Pastor Alissa as she officiated a wedding. I also have travelled with her on hospital visitations and to meetings with other clergy leaders in Cheney.

I have a strong passion for working with children and youth, which is why I have enjoyed being part of the planning team for Vacation Bible School. This year our theme is “Everest: Conquering Challenges with God’s Mighty Power.” VBS starts in a week and I am excited to meet the kids. We started decorating on Monday and transforming the scenery and church into Everest base camp. I already know it is going to be a life changing experience for everyone involved.

Another highlight of my internship thus far was having the opportunity to serve as a camp pastor at Twinlow Camp. I loved it there. I never feel more at home then I do in the woods. It was great to serve as camp pastor to the primary campers (5-7 year olds). I don’t think I have laughed so hard in a long time. They defiantly bring a smile to your face. After being at camp, it dawned on me that I could totally see myself working at a church camp full time after college. Camp combines my two loves: Jesus and facility/sport management. It would be a great opportunity to unite my two passions and share the love of Jesus with campers and retreat groups on a daily basis.

At the end of July, I was blessed with the opportunity to preach my first sermon. Cheney UMC is currently working through a series on Acts, so I was blessed to preach from one of my favorite Bible stories: St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Pastor Alissa invested time mentoring me on how to write a sermon. She shared all of her resources in addition to some notes from when she was in seminary. My first sermon went well even as there are some things I need to work on (like talking slower). The thing that brought me the most joy was seeing about ten of my friends come to church to hear me preach. Most of them don’t attend church ever so it deeply touched my heart to see them sitting in the pews. Since then it has opened the door for me to share with them the love of Christ and the joy of Sunday worship.

Throughout my internship so far, everyone keeps asking me if I want to be a pastor or go to seminary. To answer honestly, I am still not sure. I do know that God will use me and guide me to where he wants me to go in my life.  All I know now is that I am learning and growing so much already, and the internship is only half way done.

I can’t wait to see the experiences and things I will do in my last 6 weeks at Cheney UMC.

Stephanie Brady is spending her summer serving at Cheney United Methodist Church, a church which encourages people to “bring their brain” with them in the college town of Cheney, Washington. She is one of seven young adults spending the summer in ministry internships across the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church. Support received from the Young Clergy Initiative has helped to make Stephanie’s internship possible. 

This post has been edited for clarity from her mid-term reflection.

Leave a Reply