Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Can't Even Write a Farewell Ode to Our Intern

Over the past seven months, our congregation has been blessed with a terrific intern, Sam.  It's kind of a long story as to how she got to intern with us in SW Iowa when she was going to seminary in St. Louis, but suffice it to say that it was grueling for Sam to commute between the two places.  (Did I mention she was pregnant during this year, and just gave birth to an adorable baby girl 10 days ago?  "Grueling" might be too gentle a term.)  Yet she was, pretty much literally, a "super-trooper," and I never heard a word of complaint.  The children of farmers, she is incredibly practical and this was just something she had to do.

Our congregation was hesitant at first to take this on, but with an anonymous donation from a member toward her stipend as well as scholarships from our association (where is was in care) and conference, we were able to make it financially viable.  And though we are a small church, we found plenty for us to do together.  It was a great experience for both of us; I think I did a fair job as a supervising pastor (and would definitely be better with future opportunities), and Sam and I had terrific conversations about the practice of ministry and whatnot.

The congregation, not surprisingly, took to her leadership well.  They know how to love, support and challenge a minister and a minister-in-training, and she learned a great deal from them.  Most importantly, there was deep and mutual love between our church and Sam, which covers a multitude of sins.

Today we had to bid farewell to Sam, as her time with us came to an end.  She is graduating on Friday and her profile is just about ready to be sent to congregations and conferences.  As part of our farewell ritual, we adapted the "Ritual of Farewell" from the UCC Book of Worship - which I will post when I am next at the office computer.  We also gave her a gift, a beautiful stole (and I'm not at all biased, even though I bought it myself) from Soul Desires in Omaha.  The green complements her coloring, but more importantly, we hope that she will remember the uncommon time we spent together, our church and her, during the ordinary seasons of her ministry with other congregations.

Farewell, and God's blessings, Sam!

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