Seven interns, host churches selected for 2016 ELI Project internship

The 2016 ELI Project interns, with Bishop Ough and Pastor Jeremiah Lideen.

The 2016 ELI Project interns, with Bishop Ough and Pastor Jeremiah Lideen.

Walker Brault has been active in serving his local church—Wesley United Methodist in Winona—and the Minnesota Conference in a variety of ways. For a while now, he’s felt like he might be called to ministry, and he’s looking forward to exploring that call this summer.
 
Brault is one of eight young adults, mostly college students, who will spend two months this summer participating in a hands-on learning experience through the Exploring Leadership Internship (ELI) Project. Each intern will be assigned to a host church and paired with a clergy mentor at that church.
 
Brault, a freshman at Hamline University in St. Paul, will intern at Detroit Lakes United Methodist Church.
 
“I’m excited to see ministry in a different place and different context and get outside of my comfort zone,” he said.
 
The ELI Project, now in its second year, aligns with the conference’s desire to create a culture of call that actively encourages young adults to explore how God is calling them to build the kingdom. Last summer, eight interns spent two months interning at host churches throughout the state.
 
After gathering for a week of orientation during the first week of June, which will include trips to seminaries and an opportunity to learn about the United Methodist Church, each intern will spend June and July at his or her host church and gain experience in a wide variety of ministerial contexts. All 2016 interns will have the opportunity to:
 
• Preach and/or lead a Bible study or devotional
• Plan worship
• Be involved in a social justice or outreach ministry
• Observe leadership governance at a host site
• Provide pastoral care
 
Earlier this year, college students and local churches were invited to apply to participate in the ELI Project this summer. A team of clergy and laity selected interns and host churches from the pool of applicants. Interns will receive a $3,000 stipend, $2,000 of which will come from the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry and $1,000 of which the host church is expected to provide.
 
Brault doesn’t know exactly what his internship will look like, but he’s particularly interested in youth ministry because it helped him grow in his own faith. He also feels passion around reaching new people for Christ and engaging younger generations.
 
“For most young people, it’s not that they don’t have faith—it’s that what they’ve grown up with is not a good reflection of what faith can be,” he said.
 
Rev. Brenda North, pastor at Detroit Lakes United Methodist Church, said her congregation applied for an intern partly out of a desire to give back. “We’ve benefited from strong pastoral leadership over the years, and now we want to help develop and nurture future leaders,” she said.
 
North, who will be Brault’s clergy mentor, said that while she certainly hopes he learns a lot from her, she also looks forward to learning from him.
 
“I hope and pray that he’ll experience God using him in powerful ways, and I want to share with him the everyday joys of ministry,” she said. “He’ll bring to us a fresh perspective about what’s working and new possibilities for us. I’m also hoping he can help mentor youth and young adults in our congregation who are exploring their own call.”
 
The first year of the ELI Project was made possible thanks to a $60,000 grant that the Minnesota Conference received in 2014 through the global United Methodist Church’s Young Clergy Initiative, which aims to increase the number of young clergy leaders. Members of the 2015 annual conference session voted to increase the 2016 conference budgetin order to continue the program for another year.

Interns and host churches

The 2016 ELI Project interns—along with their host churches, their schools, and their home churches—are:
 
Ellen Bialka
Interning: Hastings UMC with Rev. Chris Kneen
School: University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire
Home church: Woodbury Peaceful Grove UMC
 
Walker Brault
Interning: Detroit Lakes UMC with Rev. Brenda North
School: Hamline University (St. Paul)
Home church: Wesley UMC (Winona)
 
Peter Constantian
Interning: New City Church (Minneapolis) with Rev. Tyler Sit
School: St. Olaf College (Northfield)
Home church: Harvard-Epworth UMC (Cambridge, MA)
 
Isabelle Davies
Interning: Living Spirit UMC (Minneapolis) with Rev. Donna Dempewolf
School: College of St. Benedict (St. Joseph)
Home church: Woodbury Peaceful Grove UMC
 
Jonathan Garcia
Interning: Christ UMC (Maplewood) with Rev. Rachael Warner
School: Ridgewater College (Willmar)
Home church: St. Aloysius Catholic Church (Olivia)
 
Cameron Lornston
Interning: Richfield UMC with Rev. Pam Serdar
School: Winona State University
Home church: Blaine UMC
 
Sherwin Parmar
Interning: Wesley UMC (Winona) with Rev. Dale Arendt
School: Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL)
Home church: Emmanuel UMC (Evanston, IL)
 

ELI Project seeks interns, host churches for 2016

David Hodd felt a nudge toward ministry for a long time, but an internship last summer solidified his desire to be a pastor and helped him discern that ministry truly is his calling.

Hodd is one of eight college students who spent summer 2015 participating in a hands-on learning experience through the Minnesota Conference’s Exploring Leadership Internship (ELI) Project, specifically designed for those exploring a call to vocational ministry. He interned at STORM Faith Community, which consists of three house churches, and Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in Inver Grove Heights. He assisted with worship, made pastoral visits, and led STORM Camp, where youth spent a week serving the community and worshiping.

The internship helped put Hodd on a ministry career path. Shortly after his internship ended, he became director of youth ministry at Spirit of Hope United Methodist Church in Golden Valley.

“The ELI Project is a great way to tap into the knowledge of people who are in ministry to see where you can fit,” said Hodd. “I know I want to be a pastor. I’m not sure in what capacity or what shape that…congregation might be in, but I know I want to lead a group of people in the name of Jesus.”
 
Applications are being sought for 2016 interns and host churches—and will be accepted through Feb 1.

After gathering for a week of orientation (May 31-June 3), which will include trips to seminaries and an opportunity to learn about the United Methodist Church, each intern will be placed at a host church or organization for eight weeks (June 5-July 31). Over that period, the host congregation will invite the intern to gain hands-on experience in a wide variety of ministerial contexts—and involve the intern in intentional reading, spiritual formation, and reflective discussions to help him or her hear and discern God’s call. A three-day wrap up (July 31-Aug. 1) at the end of the internship gives students an opportunity to reflect on their experience.
 
“This internship solidified my desire to be a pastor,” said 2015 Intern Lee Miller, who spent the summer at Uptown Church in Minneapolis. “I want to be able to share God’s love that I feel so strongly and be able to help others see that God is still relevant. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Host churches and the clergy mentors from each one got a lot out of the experience too.

“My intern sought my wisdom on all things ministry and was open to my processing questions and it was wonderful,” said Rev. Nate Melcher, associate pastor at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis and a 2015 clergy mentor. “What a blessing it was to bounce ideas off and receive feedback from a person who is on the inside but from the outside.”

Every intern in 2016 will have the opportunity to: 
-Preach and/or lead a Bible study or devotional
-Plan worship
-Be involved in a social justice or outreach ministry
-Observe leadership governance at host site
-Provide pastoral care
 
Interns will receive a $3,000 stipend, $2,000 of which will come from the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry and $1,000 of which the host church is expected to provide.

The first year of the internship program was made possible thanks to a $60,000 grant that the Minnesota Conference received in 2014 through the global United Methodist Church’s Young Clergy Initiative, which aims to increase the number of young clergy leaders. Members of the 2015 annual conference session voted to increase the 2016 conference budget in order to continue the program for another year.
 
Visit The ELI Project website for more information or to apply to be an intern or a host church. You can also stay connected to The ELI Project through FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

ELI intern reflects on what she’s learned about ministry, ‘being church’

Kare Louwagie (right) pictured with her mentor Katie Matson-Daley (left).

Kare Louwagie (right) pictured with her mentor Katie Matson-Daley (left).

Kari Louwagie is one of eight young adults participating in the ELI Project,a newly launched Minnesota Conference internship program for college students exploring a call to vocational ministry. Each intern is spending two months this summer within a host congregation, where he or she is engaging in various aspects of hands-on ministry. Louwagie is interning at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. She attends Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, and her home church is Christ Lutheran in Cottonwood.

I have aspired to be a pastor since I was in high school. As I was searching for summer internships within the church this past spring, one of the college chaplains at Gustavus told me about The ELI Project. After she described it to me, I knew I had to apply.  

The ELI Project is exactly the kind of internship I was looking for. It helps young adults discern their call to ministry by giving them an opportunity to work in a church setting. What I appreciate most about this internship is that it has allowed me to experience several different areas of ministry. Through my internship at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, I have been involved with youth ministry and congregational care, as well as event organizing.

I have been active in the church and have served in a variety of roles, but I had very little experience with youth ministry before I helped out with Vacation Bible School at Park Avenue. During our reflection time at the end of our second-to-last day, I asked my group of third- and fourth-grade girls to tell me about the story we had been discussing. Then, one of the quieter girls spoke up. Not only did she recount how Bartimaeus reached out to Jesus despite the people around him telling him not to, but she also talked about how the people around Bartimaeus should have empathized with him instead of judging him. She then talked about how Jesus doesn’t like it when people from “his crowd” distinguish between “us and them” because Jesus doesn’t do that. Her message was short and simple, but it was powerful. I haven’t spent a lot of time working with children, but I’m discovering that it’s amazing what you can learn from the faith of a child simply by asking a question and listening to what they have to say.

My clergy mentor pointed out to me that most people who grew up in the church and continue to go to church as young adults had five or more adults within the church that invested in them when they were young. Children are not just the future of the church; they are the church. As I continue to work in the ministry field, both through this internship and beyond, I want to be more intentional about including and listening to the children around me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the people in my home congregation who loved, supported, and cared for me when I was young. Now that I’m older, it’s my turn to start investing in the children I encounter.

Working at Park Avenue has also allowed me to gain experience in congregational care, which is an aspect of ministry I feel particularly drawn to. One part of my calling to ministry that has been very clear is that I am meant to accompany others. For me, one of the most fulfilling things is being able to walk with, care for, and encourage others. I have become familiar with the resources that are available to the congregation and the ways in which the pastoral care team keep track of the needs of the congregation. I have also been able to do some home visits with the woman who is in charge of congregational care. I have learned a lot simply by spending time with her and paying attention to how she interacts with people.

Another aspect I appreciate about this internship is that the church I’m working at is different from the church I grew up in. My family attended church at a small Lutheran congregation in rural southwest Minnesota for most of my childhood. Prior to coming to Park Avenue, I had little knowledge of the United Methodist church and had never worshipped in an urban congregation.   

Something I appreciate about Park Avenue is that it is good at being church to its neighbors. Park Avenue is a vibrant, diverse congregation that serves the local community in a variety of ways. There is a second-hand store in the church basement and a free walk-in legal clinic every Thursday afternoon. The congregation seeks to get to know the people who live in the surrounding community by hosting a weekly inter-generational gathering during the month of July, called “Park in the Neighborhood.” When I told a friend of mine about all that Park Avenue does, she said, “They’re being church!” I feel very fortunate to have been placed in a congregation that goes beyond the walls of the church to help meet local needs.

One part of my internship (that I had not done as of this writing in early July) that I am very much looking forward to is the opportunity to be involved with worship planning. Another aspect of ministry that I’m drawn to is liturgy. Specifically, I like looking at what comprises a worship service and what makes worship meaningful for a particular congregation.

I am finding that there is never a shortage of learning to do or experiences to be had, and I love every minute of it.

Eight students, host churches selected for ELI Project summer internship program

Lorin Leake has been discerning a call to ministry for as long as she can remember. But she’s always been uncomfortable answering that call because it’s so open-ended. She’s considered college chaplaincy, pastoral care, mental health counseling, and social service work, but she’s unsure which role best aligns with her gifts.

She hopes to receive some clarity this summer through the Exploring Leadership Internship (ELI) Project, a new Minnesota Conference initiative through which Leake and seven other college students also exploring a call to vocational ministry will participate in a hands-on learning experience at a host church.

“This internship will give me the opportunity to narrow the focus of this call and give me the confidence and direction to choose a seminary and make the most of my time in that seminary,” said Leake, who attends Macalester College in St. Paul and will intern at Hennepin Avenue UMC in Minneapolis. “A personal goal for this internship is to see an example of a church leadership team that creates an accepting and loving sense of community extending beyond the church. What I’m hoping to learn about myself is that there is a way to be entirely, wholly me and be an ordained minister.”

The ELI Project aligns with the conference’s desire to create a culture of call that actively encourages United Methodists, and particularly young adults, to explore how God is calling them to build the kingdom.

The inaugural year of the ELI Project was made possible thanks to a $60,000 grant that the Minnesota Conference received last year through the global United Methodist Church’s Young Clergy Initiative. Earlier this year, college students and local churches were invited to apply to participate in the ELI Project pilot this summer. A nine-person team of clergy and laity developed the program and selected interns and host churches from the pool of applicants.

After gathering for a week of orientation in late May, which will include trips to seminaries and an opportunity to learn about the United Methodist Church, each intern will spend eight weeks at a host church, where he or she will gain hands-on experience in a wide variety of ministerial contexts.

The internship ‘means everything’

For Lee Miller, who will spend his summer at Uptown Church—a new faith community in Minneapolis—the internship is an opportunity to supplement his religious studies at Hamline University with practical experience.

The internship “means everything,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to learning how to build a church from the ground up.

“Working with the new start at Uptown, I will be able to work hand-in-hand with a congregation that is looking to sustain itself long-term and see how that affects the decisions of the pastor,” said Miller. “I am hoping to gain real-life experience of what being a pastor means outside of just a source of religious knowledge.”

Meanwhile, host sites see the internship as a way to help develop the next generation of leaders while also nurturing a culture of call within their own congregations.

“We meet with our students every year and we talk with them about the opportunity to serve God and bless our neighbors through full-time Christian ministry,” said Rev. Dan Wetterstrom, who serves Woodbury Peaceful Grove UMC, which will host intern Ronnie Stimson this summer. “Our intern is an incarnational example of a college student who sees God at work in their life and is exploring that. It’s going to be great for our students to have an opportunity to see and hear from Ronnie because it will make it more real for them.”

Wetterstrom said Stimson is particularly interested in youth ministry and will have an opportunity to help lead several student outreach projects—including a “Summer Stretch” program through which the church’s middle-schoolers spend Wednesdays doing service projects in the community. Additionally, Woodbury Peaceful Grove has been exploring ways to tap into the energy and passion that parents and students have around sports—and leverage it to help people think about their faith; Stimson will be invited to be part of that team as well.

“We have a great learning environment,” Wetterstrom said. “There are so many ways that someone who’s interested in exploring ministry can have exposure through pastoral care, compassion and justice ministries, small groups, worship, preaching, and other areas.”

The need for young leaders

Currently, 12.6 percent of United Methodist clergy serving in Minnesota are under the age of 40—and 65.5 percent of the state’s clergy will be eligible to retire within the next five years.

Rev. Judy Zabel, superintendent for the Twin Cities District and the leader of the ELI Project team, said we need to be asking ourselves: “Who will be your pastor in 10 years?”

The ELI Project is a tangible way we’re developing the next generation of leaders—and encouraging churches to facilitate meaningful conversations and teach around call, she added.

“We have a great group of interns,” Zabel said. “They’re smart, they’re enthusiastic, they’re open to the Holy Spirit. Who knows—one of them might be your pastor someday.”

Interns and host churches

The 2015 ELI Project interns—along with their host churches, their home churches, and their schools—are:

John Barclay III
Interning: Brunswick UMC (Crystal)
Home church: Coon Rapids UMC
School: Rochester Community and Technical College

David Hodd
Interning: STORM Faith Community (multi-site)
Home church: STORM Faith Community
School: North Central University

Lorin Leake
Interning: Hennepin Avenue UMC (Minneapolis)
Home church: Calvary UMC (Nashville, TN)
School: Macalester College

Kari Louwagie
Interning: Park Avenue UMC (Minneapolis)
Home church: Christ Lutheran Church (Cottonwood)
School: Gustavus Adolphus College

Lee J. Miller
Interning: Uptown Church with (Minneapolis)
Home church: Coon Rapids UMC
School: Hamline University

Dani Smith
Interning: Wesley UMC (Winona)
Home church: Lester Park UMC (Duluth)
School: Lake Superior College

Ronnie Stimson
Interning: Woodbury Peaceful Grove UMC
Home church: Mount Olivet Lutheran Church (Minneapolis)
School: Hamline University

Melissa Thompson
Interning: Anoka UMC
Home church: Gethsemane Baptist Temple (Starr, SC)
School: Hamline University

Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Annual Conference launches internship program for college students exploring call to ordained ministry

By Christa Meland

Less than 7 percent of United Methodist clergy serving in Minnesota are under the age of 40. Meanwhile, more than 50 percent of the state’s clergy are eligible to retire within the next five years.

These statistics are startling—and they illustrate the need to immediately and effectively cultivate a new generation of church leaders. That’s exactly what a new Minnesota Conference internship program hopes to do.

The Exploring Leadership Internship program, or “The ELI Project” for short, is for students exploring a call to ordained ministry. Through it, up to 10 college students will be invited to participate in a learning experience during summer 2015. After gathering for a week of orientation, which will include trips to seminaries and an opportunity to learn about the United Methodist Church, each intern will be placed at a host church or organization for eight weeks. Over that period, the host congregation will invite the intern to gain hands-on experience in a wide variety of ministerial contexts—and involve the intern in intentional reading, spiritual formation, and reflective discussions to help him or her hear and discern God’s call.

Interns will receive a $3,000 stipend, $2,000 of which will come from the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry and $1,000 of which the host church is expected to provide.

Culture of call

The program aligns with the Minnesota Conference’s desire to create a culture of call that actively encourages all United Methodists, but particularly young adults, to explore how God is calling them to use their gifts to build the kingdom.

“We often talk to young people about what they want to be when they grow up and encourage them to think about careers such as teaching, being a doctor or lawyer, or a plumber or carpenter, but we don’t often invite them to think about being a pastor or leader in the church,” said Director of Ministries Cindy Gregorson. “And yet, if the church is the hope of the world, why would we not invite young people to consider this vocation as something significant and worthy of consideration?”

The name “The ELI Project” refers to the biblical story of Hannah, Eli, and Samuel. Hannah, desperate for a child, commits Samuel to the Lord well before he is conceived. Eli, witnessing Hannah in prayer, blesses her by saying, “And may the God of Israel give you what you’ve asked from him.” After Hannah’s son Samuel is born, she and Eli help him recognize God’s call more directly. Hannah places Samuel into positions of ministry with Eli so that as Samuel hears the voice of God, Eli is there to help him fully hear and respond to it.

The program is made possible thanks to a $60,000 grant that the Minnesota Conference received last year through the global United Methodist Church’s Young Clergy Initiative Fund, which aims to “increase the number of young clergy leaders among the jurisdictional conferences.” It aligns with the conference’s Journey Toward Vitality, a roadmap that presents a vision to increase vitality in our churches and outlines the strategic pathways that will get us there—one of which is developing missional leaders.

New project manager

Joelle Anderson was recently hired project manager for The ELI Project. In that part-time position, she will oversee the application and selection process and work with the interns and host congregations. She’s responsible for ensuring a positive internship experience for the students and helping the host sites to understand their role.

Anderson, who lives in Coon Rapids, grew up Baptist and graduated in spring 2014 with a master of divinity degree. She’s thrilled to be able to lead this new program for the Minnesota Conference.

“The task of The ELI Project is vital for the body of Christ right now,” she said. “Young people are exploring what it means to follow Christ and are creative in what traditions and practices they use. What excites me the most about The ELI Project is the ability to plug young talent into churches to see how one will sharpen and mold the other. Young adults have an incredible desire to experience and be in relationship with God. Their nuanced perspective and voice will challenge and inspire others in their circles. What the hosting churches will do is bring tangible ministry experience and wisdom to the students.”

When Anderson was an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, many people told her that she would make a good pastor, and she knew she enjoyed all aspects of church: the worship, the people, learning about Jesus, studying the Bible, and educating herself about the history of Christianity. But she didn’t know what vocational ministry might look like for her life and didn’t have an opportunity to try it out. A program like The ELI Project would have helped her immensely, she said.

“I think ‘discernment’ and ‘call’ and ‘vocational ministry’ can seem mysterious,” she said. “We hope that The ELI Project will provide some tangible footholds.”

Churches across the state will be a key part of the internship process. In addition to having the opportunity to host interns, all congregations within the conference are being asked identify college students who might be a good fit for the program and encourage them to consider the program.

Learn more

Visit The ELI Project website for more information or to apply to be an intern or a host church. You can also stay connected to The ELI Project through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

“Every generation is best reached by people in their own generation,” said Gregorson. “The average age of a United Methodist is 61.  If we are going to reach our children and their children with the good news of Jesus Christ, we need leaders in their 20s and 30s who are passionate about the gospel and the power of Christian community.”

Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Conference receives $60K grant to develop young clergy

By Christa Meland

When Rev. Judy Zabel was in high school, she was given the opportunity to work alongside an adult mentor and teach Sunday school classes at her church. Later, she became the pianist who accompanied the church choir. These experiences provided valuable leadership skills and ultimately helped her discover her passion for ministry.

“They planted seeds that got me thinking about how God was calling me to use my gifts to build the kingdom,” said Zabel, superintendent for the Minnesota Annual Conference’s Twin Cities District.

That’s essentially the goal behind a formational retreat and summer internship that will be available to college students within the Minnesota Conference starting in 2015.

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry recently approved a $60,000 grant for the Minnesota Conference through the global United Methodist Church’s Young Clergy Initiative fund. This $7 million fund, created by the 2012 General Conference, aims to “increase the number of young clergy among the jurisdictional conferences.”

The Minnesota Conference program will be geared toward students who are exploring whether they are called to ordained ministry. It aligns with the conference’s Journey Toward Vitality, a roadmap that presents a vision to increase vitality in our churches and outlines the strategic pathways that will get us there—one of which is developing missional leaders.

The first component of the new program is a weeklong retreat at which participants will experience various forms of ministry, reflect on public church leadership, visit seminaries and learn about seminary education, and engage in formational spiritual activities.

After the retreat, each student will be placed in a healthy, vibrant church or ministry setting and given the opportunity to use their passions to lead over the course of a summer. Mentors will walk alongside them, answer their questions, and affirm their gifts. The goal is for 12 students to participate in the internship program in 2015.

The funding awarded to the Minnesota Conference was approved during the second round of Young Clergy Initiative grants. A total of 49 grants ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 were announced last week. The Minnesota Conference applied for $100,000, but the grant team was thrilled about the $60,000 awarded.

Rev. Rhodie Jacobson, pastor at Monticello UMC and co-chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, points out that many companies and industries offer practical experiences to help students get a taste for a profession they might be considering. Churches need to be doing this same thing in order to present ordained ministry as an option at the time when young people are choosing a career path.

“This new internship program can help people actually and specifically and tangibly…get their feet wet and do real ministry,” said Jacobson, a member of the team that designed the program and applied for the grant. “We are talking about a privileged labor—being a pastor. Internships are an exciting way to help people discern this unique call.”

Grant money will cover the cost of the internships (which are paid), the retreat, and staff to run the program—and the funding will last through the end of 2015. The program is somewhat of a pilot, and next year, conference leaders will assess what’s next.

Leaders at all churches within the conference will be asked to identify college students who might be a good fit for the program. Zabel said it’s critical for churches to make an intentional effort to identify the gifts of the young people in their congregations, affirm those gifts, provide an opportunity for those gifts to be used in a leadership role, and ask the question, “Do you think you might be called to ordained ministry?”

“We know that the harvest is great and the laborers are few,” said Zabel, a member of the team that designed the program and applied for the Young Clergy Initiative grant. She noted that a large percentage of Minnesota clergy are expected to retire within the next five years. “We need articulate, talented, thoughtful, open-minded individuals to lead our congregations.”

Zabel said those who become ordained earlier in their careers also have longer pastorates, which helps in terms of being able to grow churches over time and apply wisdom gained over years of experience.

Rev. Andy Keck, a deacon from the North Carolina Conference who is on loan to the Minnesota Conference, was part of the team that designed the program and was the primary writer of the Young Clergy Initiative grant application.

“We really want to develop a culture of call,” said Keck, who serves at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. “Part of the young clergy piece is that Minnesota and the church generally need people to navigate our church and culture…We need young adults to help us reach young adults.”

All United Methodists are called into ministry on behalf of Christ when they are baptized. But the type and setting for ministry is different for everyone.

The group that designed the new program for the conference pointed to the biblical story of Hannah, Eli, and Samuel when illustrating the importance of helping young people explore their call.

Hannah, desperate for a child, commits Samuel to the Lord well before he is conceived. Eli, witnessing Hannah in prayer, blesses her by saying, “And may the God of Israel give you what you’ve asked from him.” After Hannah’s son Samuel is born, she and Eli help him recognize God’s call more directly. Hannah places Samuel into positions of ministry with Eli so that as Samuel hears the voice of God, Eli is there to help him fully hear and respond to it.

“We need to help people hear clearly the voice of God,” said Jacobson.

Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.