Mel Pardock – Staff Writer
At the beginning of each semester, Gusties of all majors and interests apply to be preaching interns that assist the Chaplains Office and the clergy at Gustavus. Usually, there are two interns that assist the Chaplains and they do this by giving sermons during worship and interpreting scripture and literature. This year’s preaching interns are Georgia Zutz and PJ Johnson, both of whom are Gustavus Juniors.
There are plenty of reasons one chooses to be a preaching intern, be it practicing public speaking, preparation for seminary, or just to try something new. This year’s interns believe that this experience will help them prepare for their futures in a variety of ways.
“I’m an English major, but I want to go to seminary. Having the preaching internship and the tools is very helpful for 1. Seeing if I’ll like the job, and 2. Giving me experience preaching and speaking before a congregation since there aren’t that many places to get this experience,” Johnson said.
Zutz worked this past summer at the Gustavus Academy of Faith, Science, and Ethics as a mentor, working on the curriculum for the on-campus camp the Academy hosted for high school students and assisting the students while they were on campus, as well as writing mentor messages and speaking to these attendees.
“My first inkling of interest came about when I was hired by the Academy. I had some fear when I was a mentor, but when the school year rolled around, I felt like it was right for me to become an intern and join the program. I wanted to get back up there (in the pulpit),” Zutz said.
Preaching interns have a handful of different duties within the Chaplain’s Office, and these duties as well as the preaching intern program itself are overseen by Chaplain Maggie Falenschek.
“Preaching interns gather weekly to learn about the craft of preaching, dig into and intentionally interpret scripture, and prepare sermons. Each intern has the opportunity to prepare two sermons and preach twice each semester. Typically, interns preach at our Sunday Worship Community but some have also preached at Proclaim or in local churches,” Falenschek said.
As there are different things that push these interns to take interest in this work, there are many things that they plan to do with this experience in the future.
“When I was at the Academy, I had a lot of opportunities sent my way. They ranged from ‘Hey, you should go to seminary and be a pastor,’ to ‘You’re really good at this and that’s really cool,’ so, as of right now, I’m not very sure how this experience will play into my future plans. However,I think, in general, it’s improved my capabilities to think about and discuss my faith, and I hope that will make it easier to face challenges and discuss challenging topics in the future,” Zutz said.
Anyone who is interested in being a preaching intern is welcome to look further into the program to see what it’s all about, and apply to possibly be an intern next semester or in the upcoming academic years.
“If you’re even a little bit interested, I say you should just go for it. It’s only an hour a week on Monday nights, and while it can be a little stressful, it’s so fun and a great experience. It’s taught me a lot about how to interact with others,” Johnson said.
If you are interested in being a preaching intern, contact Chaplain Maggie Falenschek for more information on the program and application process.