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The United Methodist Internship in Urban Ministry is an urban learning experience for young adults who want to make a difference in the lives of others through a program of spiritual growth and service. The two-month pilot summer session began in mid-June, 2015. Interns lived in intentional community at Orchard House near USC, and worked full-time in an urban ministry matched to their interests. Interns also met with a spiritual mentor at least one hour a week, and participated in the life of their local United Methodist Church. At left, Seidi Valencia with Deaconess Jeanne Roe Smith, her spiritual mentor.
Sonia Rodriguez was assigned to United University Church and its summer Peace Camp. "At times, when some of us think of missionary work, we look at those surroundings that are outside of us, we look at places like third world countries and think about what we can do there to make a difference in the world. Working in ministry in this urban environment has taught me that we don’t always have to look too far out of our own environments to find places or people in need. There are people within our own community who need our help and are often overlooked."
Tommy Elrod worked with Pastor Gary Williams on the Mass Incarceration Task Force and attended Hamilton United Methodist Church. "I learned more about the South LA culture and how important the church is in an urban setting than I ever would have from a classroom or book. This nudged me in the right direction. I learned how difficult it is to be a pastor with a joint-charge at two churches, especially in the midst of gang-related violence. The members of the church shed light on the absolute solace and sanctuary that the church provides in the black community."
Program partners included the Young Clergy Initiative at Claremont School of Theology, West District , California Pacific Conference, and California Pacific Higher Education and Campus Ministry Council.
Rev. Allison Mark, previously Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Pasadena, served as the program director. Her previous experience with intern programs, and her enthusiasm for youth and young adult ministry helped make our dream a reality. Rev. Brian Gaeta-Symonds, Campus Engagement Minister at United University Church provided a weekly group reflection with the interns, and oversaw the communal living at Orchard House.
Thanks to the original members of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Collaborative who conceived this program in 2010: Sheri Dunn Berry, Rev. David Farley, Rev. Sandie Richards, Rev. Frank Wulf, Rev. Jennifer Gutierrez, and others. And to all the donors who have supported! The Urban Internship task force will begin meeting again in January 2016 to plan the next internship cycle. Please let us know if you would like to participate!
Interns, in the middle picture from left to right include Sonia Rodriguez, serving at United University Church and Peace Cam; Shanel Alexander, interning at CLUE; Seidi Valencia, placed at St. John's United Methodist Church in Watts; Bryan In, serving at Los Angeles First United Methodist Church and Kid City; and Tommy Elrod, who is working at Hamilton United Methodist Church and the Mass Incarceration Task Force.
At bottom right, Bryan In and his family at the culminating sharing in Orchard House.
Interested in supporting this project? Please contact Anne Hawthorne at firstname.lastname@example.org