Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Intern's Annual Report

Dear faithful reader,
I'm copying my annual report into this blog to give those of you who are interested a sense of what I've been up do this fall. Enjoy!

Annual Report of the Seminary Intern
September 2009-January 2010

This report is based on the five months I have been with St. John United (SJU) and the shared site of the Lutheran Public Policy Office (LPPO). My internship began at my installation on August 30, 2009, and will continue through mid-August, 2010.

My standard weeks have been organized similarly to those of past interns: On Tuesdays and Fridays I am at the LPPO offices, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays I am here at SJU. Saturdays are a wild card, depending on the ministry needs of each site that week. Monday is my day off, and my day with Chris, and usually a day for us to adventure somewhere in Seattle or its surrounding outdoor wonderland.

As a pastor-in-training, I’ve been encouraged to understand my ministry throughout the week as flowing out of the Word and Sacrament we share each Sunday morning. Most Sundays here at SJU I serve as a worship assistant. This is the first time that I have had a leadership role in worship on a weekly basis, and it has been a tremendous gift to me. Once a month I preach during worship. Sermon preparation has been deeply challenging and difficult for me since my first preaching class two years ago, but over these last five months your warm and encouraging feedback has helped me mature in this process, calming my nerves and giving me the confidence to try new things in my preaching.

In September I attended a theology conference at Holden Village – my first visit to this remarkable place – and joined an impromptu hike to Holden Lake with several other area clergy. I also began attending a text study on a weekly basis at Ballard First Lutheran. These activities allowed me to begin and develop relationships with professional colleagues, and have helped deepen a growing sense of my own vocation and what it means.

By October, I had attended two Garden Work Parties, both eye-opening experiences, truly. At the first, I learned that what I guessed was an irritating weed (it pricked me, after all) was, in fact, a wild rose – good to know. A few weeks later I gathered with a few hardy souls at Woodland Park Zoo for their annual Fall Fecal Fest, where we shoveled great steaming piles of Zoo Doo, carting them over to the garden, where in the months to come they’ll help sprout tasty vegetables and pretty flowers. These are the kinds of rich learning experiences not found at seminary.

When I arrived at SJU I assumed leadership of the just-born SJU Young Adult Group, and through November the group was continuing to grow. Eight twentysomethings attended Theology on Tap night on November 11, and on November 25 four other young adults joined Chris and I at Qwest Field for the Annual MLS Cup soccer championship. In December we started a Facebook group, and this spring we’re hoping to plan more field trips and pub nights to continue building a sense of fellowship and community among the young adults of St. John United.

In December I was charged with directing the annual Sunday School Christmas Pageant. I can honestly say that, to put it mildly, I had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately, with the help of Nathan’s inspired script, Pastor Carol’s guidance, and the amazing creative talents of SJU members, I watched as the kids overcame chaos, strengthened their own script, tore into their roles, and on December 20 brought an amazing seriousness of purpose to their telling of the Christmas story. I can honestly say that the Christmas Pageant was one of the absolute highlights of my first five months here, and I am so grateful to you all for allowing me to be a part of it.

Throughout the fall I took part in the Men’s Ministry activities of Wednesday Bible studies and Saturday breakfasts each month. In November I proposed that we read together the book Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon, and in January I led the first of these book club discussions. I look forward to more fellowship activities with the men of SJU in the springtime.

These are but a few of the many activities I have had the privilege of participating in at SJU over the last few months. Others include: singing with the kids at Sunday School; participating in a wedding and a funeral; making pastoral visits; attending Church Council meetings and committee meetings; attending the LYONS kick-off event; enjoying a potluck and a movie night; attending the SHARE Christmas Party; attending special worship services like the Lilejuleaften, the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, and the September celebration of full communion between Lutherans and Methodists; teaching adult forum; writing Eagle articles; and more.

I have especially appreciated the fellowship time I have spent with SJU members this fall. Your hospitality and willingness to include us – not only myself but Chris as well – in your lives has meant much to us, more than we can say. Over the next few months I hope to take the initiative in visiting some of you I haven’t gotten to know yet. I am deeply grateful for the time we have spent together and for the gifts of food and fellowship we’ve shared.

Finally, I want to share just a few of the activities I’ve been able to participate in at the LPPO. One of the highlights of working at the LPPO is the opportunity to visit and build relationships with a wide variety of Lutheran churches in Washington State as we invite, nudge, and assist them into their advocacy ministries. In September I joined the LPPO staff on a visit to Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, and two months later I was invited to preach in the campus chapel at PLU during their observance of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. In October I accompanied Paul on his visit to Celebration Lutheran Church in East Wenatchee, and we had a wonderful visit with these Lutherans on the “other side” of the Cascades. Also in November I led an “Introduction to Advocacy” adult forum at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bellevue. Beginning at Ballard First Lutheran Church on January 17, I’ll be visiting an average of one church per month on a Sunday to preach and teach as a representative of the LPPO. Besides congregational visits, my main project at the LPPO – and my overall Internship Project for the year – is the work of congregational organizing. Building off the work of previous seminary interns, I have – with the help of the LPPO’s Congregational Relations Committee – set about implementing a systematic strategy for inviting congregations into advocacy, supporting their advocacy ministries, and building their relationship with the LPPO through the Advocating Congregations Network.

In closing, I offer my deepest thanks for this congregation’s support of the internship program. You are shaping the identity of pastors-to-be, giving them deep wells of experience, confidence, and grace for their future life and ministry. For that I am grateful beyond words.

I thank you for the first five months, and I look forward to our next seven months together!

In Christ,
Seminary Intern Matt Keadle

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