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The Exploring Leadership Internship Project, or The ELI Project for short, is an initiative of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to identify, encourage, and support young adults who are beginning to explore ministry leadership. Through The ELI Project, interns will be able to try on ministry leadership and discern the answer to the question, "Is God calling me to vocational ministry?" in the context of a healthy, fruitful, and supportive congregation and with the guidance of a gifted clergy leader committed to helping young people discern their call.
The ELI Project internships are for young adults who have completed at least their first year of college or university. The ELI Project team will invite up to 12 young adults to participate as a learning cohort for the summer of 2018. Placement will involve The ELI Project team matching a host church and intern based on the intern’s learning goals and the strengths of the congregation and supervising clergy. The internships are for an ten-week period, beginning with an intern/mentor meeting day on May 24, then a group orientation during annual conference from May 29 to June 1, followed by the nine-week onsite internship (Sunday, June 3 - Sunday, August 5), and then a wrap-up retreat Sunday, August 5 - 7 that includes group reflection, evaluation, and celebration.
What Will the eli project team look for in selecting a host congregation?
Host congregations must have a recommendation from their district superintendent. They also must already have a proven track record of vitality and the ability to identify and nurture healthy leaders. At a minimum, the host site must give the intern the opportunity to:
- Preach and/or lead a Bible study
- Plan worship
- Be involved in a social justice or community outreach ministry
- Observe leadership development/discipleship ministry
- Provide pastoral care
Clergy and congregations must make a commitment to creating and deepening a "culture of call" in the life of the congregation even after the internship ends so that other young people will hear and respond to their call. By welcoming and supporting an ELI Project intern, the host congregation can also deepen its own practice of discernment in hearing God's call anew.
How does the host congregation participate?
The intern will be supervised by a clergy leader of the congregation and will be considered a short-term employee of the church. The host church will pay the intern $3,000 for The ELI Project internship. The church will receive a $2,000 grant from the ELI Project to help offset the cost of the intern and must contribute the remaining $1,000. In addition to making a financial commitment, host congregations must make a commitment to allow The ELI Project intern to experience the full range of ministerial contexts and involve the intern in the five areas listed above as well as intentional reading, spiritual formation, and reflective discussions for deeper discernment. It is recommended that a member of the SPRC commits to meeting and processing with the intern along with the designated clergy mentor during the summer internship. This program is not an opportunity to obtain cheap labor for summer programming. The host congregational leaders with clergy supervisor will create a learning and service plan for the intern, including providing a support person, preferably from the SPRC, to offer care and support for the intern (see application for more details).