My internship at North Decatur started as a product of procrastination. I was finishing my first year of seminary and needed to find an internship at a local church for my “Contextual Education” placement. I kept telling people that I was looking for “the right fit” when in reality I was deeply terrified at the prospect of serving in any congregation. My insecurity had prevented me from reaching out to any internships and I had until the end of the month to land something. I coincidentally saw a posting for a “ministry fellow” position at a church near Emory. Given that I had a limited amount of time to find a place, I reached out to Beth about the position and five months later I was sitting in the 8:30 service at NDPC.
I arrived at North Decatur as a wounded soul. I had convinced myself that despite wanting to work in ordained ministry, I lacked the “it” factor that was necessary to lead a congregation. Slowly, and patiently this congregation and the staff at NDPC patiently worked with me while I internally navigated these feelings. If you saw my first sermons or worship prayers, you probably saw how scared I was to do this. But the safety of this congregation enabled me to find this voice. Whether it was youth group trips to the Calvin Center, or Adult Education classes, or the conversations I had with many of you in the fellowship hall, slowly but surely I felt like I was discovering my voice.
There is a lot I can say, but the 400 or so words that I want to keep this in prevents me from saying all of it, but in short those words are “thank you.” Thank you to the NDPC members who encouraged me after shaky prayers. Thank you to the student ministry kids who laughed at my bad jokes. And thank you to the NDPC staff. It needs to be said that Beth and David are terrific leaders and mentors. I learned so much by just watching how they move through the world. My Dad always told me that you can measure somebody’s integrity by how they interact with their employees, and I have always felt loved and affirmed by Beth and David. They aren’t only good pastors, they’re good people. These words also apply to the rest of the staff. Mary Anona is so detailed and caring with each and every one of you behind the scenes. She holds prayers and concerns so tenderly. And Erin works tirelessly to make our CYF ministries run. One of the most amazing things I have witnessed is how Erin can preach entire sermons by just asking our students three questions about the week they are having. Teaching confirmation alongside her was the highlight of my time here at NDPC, it was challenging and difficult and I never saw her waver.
I’m now over my self-imposed word count by roughly 93 words but given that my sermons were so short that I think I’ve earned a little bit of a surplus here. I just want each of you to know that it has been a treasure serving this congregation. So many congregational internships that my friends did were burdens to them, but it was never burdensome to me. This community is special, and I look forward to hearing what NDPC does in the future. As for me, my next steps are somewhat unknown. I’ll be close by and my contact information is in Realm should any of you ever want to reach out. In the meantime, enjoy this Sinead O’Connor classic, I think it sums up my experience here at NDPC.