I thought it would be good, coming up to the end of my first year of my internship at Proclamation Presbyterian Church, to take a few moments to give some reflections on my first year.
It goes without saying, although I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to serve Christ's church here at Proclamation. When I finished my under-grad degree at Lancaster Bible College in the May of 2014, I was in a complete daze. My brother Peter passed away less than a month before, I had a degree but a Bachelor of Science in Bible is a pretty useless degree, practically speaking. I had no plan, no idea where to go or what to do next, I was physically and emotionally emptied, wondering what the Lord had next for me. I had no idea that by the end of that summer, through the love, support, and guidance of men like Dr. Michael Rogers at Westminster PCA and our own Troy De Bruin that I would be enrolled in Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis, would be taken “under care” of the Susquehanna Valley Presbytery, and would be serving, at the time, as a part-time unpaid pastoral intern at Proclamation. I was grateful and energized, excited to be able to further my education, serve my local church body, and to have the guidance and accountability of the presbytery over me. Then, most unlooked for and unexpectedly to me, talks began circulating about making my internship a full-time paid internship beginning in January of this year. I would have never thought that I would be working in full time ministry less than a year after finishing my under-grad degree, but the Lord God seems to be full of surprises!
As Troy and I sat down at the beginning of the year, we laid out a pretty aggressive outline for what my internship should look like. We modeled this largely upon Kevin DeYoung's internship program at University Reformed Church. The outline included a lot of reading and a lot of book reports. Of course, Troy and I did not account for the fact that URC was a well established church with long established ministries already in place. Needless to say, while our outline was not completely laid to waste, the tasks of working full time for a young church and beginning a seminary program sort of “got in the way” of our internship outline.
Personally, I do not consider this veering from the internship outline a loss. In the past year, I have had an experience in ministry that most seminary students will never have. It seems I've been able to have my hands in many different pots as the ministry of Proclamation has grown. Everything from planning our weekly worship services to helping launch a children and youth ministry, helping to teach and train men for leadership roles in our church, sitting in on session meetings, helping to plan and facilitate our first congregational meeting, memorizing and blogging my way through the Westminster Shorter Catechism, preaching for the first time, sitting in on new-membership interviews, being involved in the organization of Proclamation into a particular congregation of the Presbyterian Church of America, I count it all a great and wonderful blessing to have the Lord allow me to be involved in so many different aspects of Christian ministry. The Lord has and is doing amazing things through the body of believers at Proclamation and I thank God often for this amazing opportunity.
I also praise and thank God that he brought me to this particular body of believers. The community at Proclamation is a beautiful, loving, and supportive community who, I believe, is truly united around the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I read in the book of Acts about how the early Christians shared in every aspect of their lives, I'm encouraged at how our little church reflects this spirit. We have shared in times of great joy, great growth, and especially great sorrow and grief. It seems that in the life of our young church, we've had to endure the entire range of trials, tribulations, and joys that any large church would face. And I count it a blessing to serve this congregation in all of these circumstances.
The support, both financially and spiritually, that I've received this first year is overwhelming. I could never repay all of you for the love and support I've received. I could never express the deep-seated gratitude that I truly feel. I praise God often for you all. The Lord God truly is building his church, both here in Mount Joy and globally, and I pray that you all agree, it is a tremendous privilege and honor to be part of such a great and eternal work.