One of the unique and delightful parts of the Chapel Hill culture is the willingness to embrace young leaders. Personally, I am on the receiving end of so much support, encouragement, and space to try and fail and succeed. It’s a gift that I do not to take for granted, and I recognize that it is a conscious choice on the part of our pastoral staff and church leaders. Investing in young leaders takes many forms, but today I wanted to bring you in on something exciting we’re participating in this summer. Whitworth University’s Office of Church Engagement is piloting a summer internship program called the Ekklesia Fellowship Program. Whitworth describes the program this way:
“The Ekklesia Fellowship Program is a 10- to 12-week summer-ministry experience for current Whitworth students and those who have just graduated. “Ekklesia” is a Greek word that means, in a Christian context, “a people called out from the world and to God.” The EFP endeavors to provide avenues for students to explore the ways in which God is calling them out into the world through a summer of full-time ministry.”
When we learned about this opportunity last fall, we jumped at the chance to invest in young leaders this summer, and so it is with great pleasure (and not a little Pirate pride!) that I introduce you to four incredible young women from my alma mater. Please seek them out this summer—invite them to dinner with your family, to explore a corner of the Harbor, to hear their stories and offer your own. We believe this experience will be mutually transformative—that we will learn from these interns, and they from us, and together, we’ll experience the Kingdom of God in a new way.
Name: Meghan Long
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Involvement with Ministry throughout life: When I was in 7th grade, I started attending two different youth groups in Spokane, at Southside Christian and Summit Church. It was fun because my two older twin brothers were both youth pastors at those two youth groups. I thoroughly enjoyed being a student there, but I knew I wanted to be more involved. I started by volunteering on worship team, and soon was doing a summer internship with Summit. I learned what it means to make disciples, to serve behind the scenes, and what it meant to be a worship leader. All my years in high school I participated in various service projects and fun things with these two ministries, including mission trips, Camp Spalding, VBS, Beyond Malibu, food banks, worship nights, and more. The hardest thing about graduating was that I wouldn’t be able to be a student in the ministry anymore, but I was excited to continue serving at Summit on the worship team and by leading 6th grade girls. I will continue with that once I get back to Spokane. I love youth ministry and I always will!
What brings me joy: Hiking, deep conversations, good food, puppies, sunshine. Doing Beyond Malibu three times in high school truly set a tone in my heart for a love of nature and fellowship. Doing something hard with a bunch of girls that are the same age as you is one of the most rewarding experiences, especially when it is centered on Christ and becoming more like Him. Summiting each mountain brought me literal tears of joy, because it was all my favorite things mixed into one (except puppies…that would have sent me over the edge).
If you really knew me: You’d know that I have a knack for messing up sentences and I take a lot of naps.
Name: Hannah Palmer
Hometown: Hitchin, England
Major: Graphic Design & Marketing
Involvement with ministry: I have been around international missions my entire life, as my family worked with YWAM in England and then later moved to West Africa to work with Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships is a non-profit organization that provides free medical care to those who could otherwise not afford it. I was able to be heavily involved in hospital ministry and reaching out to recovering patients. It also provided me opportunities to visit orphanages weekly and spend time loving and learning from the children there.
What brings you joy: Spending time with others doing adventurous things brings me joy. I love spontaneous excursions doing unusual things. I especially find joy in hearing peoples’ stories and learning from them. Another joy of mine is exploring new places and becoming a “local”. I love digging in to cultures and reaching beyond simply being a tourist.
If you know me, you would know that: My British accent becomes stronger depending on who I spend time around or if I watch too much British TV.
Name: Allie (Aletheia) Schibsted
Hometown: Chico, CA à San Clemente, CA
Major / Minor: Theology & Spanish majors, Music minor
Involvement with Ministry: I grew up in Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, CA with my dad as the senior pastor. I always attended the children’s and youth programs, but as I got older, I began volunteering with kids (working with children and youth has always been one of my greatest passions). I became more serious about my faith when I was in high school, and became very involved in my youth group. Going to camps and going on mission trips was probably my favorite part of life growing up. My favorite mission trips were always the ones to Mexico, and that is one of the reasons why I continued pursuing Spanish in college. Last summer I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Spanish-speaking congregation and worship service at my dad’s new church in San Clemente, and it was such an amazing experience. At Whitworth, I am involved in Campus Worship and as a small group leader.
What Brings You Joy: Being with friends, making music (I play the flute and piccolo!), singing, dancing, being outdoors.
If You Really Knew Me: You’d know that I love dolphins!
Name: Elaina Schrader
Hometown: West Linn, Oregon
Class: Graduated May 2016
Major: Graphic Design and 2-Dimensional Design with a Certification for Ministry
Ministry Involvement: I have been a volunteer leader for Wyld Life (middle school version of Young Life) for the past 5 years in both West Linn, Oregon and Spokane, Washington.
What brings me joy:
Watching anyone get in touch with their inner child, whether that’s through playing an old video game, watching a classic Disney VHS movie, or drawing with sidewalk chalk. Reading and talking about books is one of my favorite things.
If you really knew me:
You would know that I can quote all of the movie Tangled and I know all the words to most Disney songs.”