Some congregations can have a pastor for decades, but a parish in Southwest Virginia has had eight leaders in their church only stay for one year. No, the members aren’t scaring off these religious leaders. The Rural Retreat Parish and the Attoway Kimberlin Parish are long term participants in a seminary internship program where a vicar (a pastor in training) serves and learns at their congregations for 1 year to get real life experience.
Pastor Jonathan Hamman is the pastor of the Rural Retreat Parish, which is made up of St. Paul Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran Church, acts as the Intern Supervisor. He explained that the people of his parish really view the internship program as a ministry to train up future leaders of the Church.
Both Pastor Hamman and the current vicar speak highly of the church members and how they are willing to welcome in a new face year after year.
“It has been phenomenal to be here and truthfully Jonathan is awesome,” said the current intern, Vicar Linda Shanks, “He has just the right amount of supervision. He lets you develop your own bible studies and sermons but he also gives you feedback. That has been really good for me.”
Because the Attoway Kimberlain Parish consists of much smaller congregations that don’t have a pastor on staff, the Intern is able to preach and receive much more hands on experience than some of their classmates who have interned with larger churches.
Linda Shanks spoke very highly of the internship and even said that she asks members of the congregations for feedback with they are willing to graciously give.
“We can have all the book learning in the world, but you really need to be able to apply it and internship allows you to be able to do that.”