Beach Church seeking leaders for the future

Seen here are Jessica Farah, Kendall Russ and Daniel Clayton. Interns and volunteers are given resources and responsibilities that can help them to discover their calling while already engaged in service to others.


Beach Church in Jacksonville is on a mission inside its own walls.

That mission is to find, cultivate and educate a group of 12 interns that will find specific callings to carry out the church’s plan to “raise up, and release followers of Jesus who change the world.”

Carey Sumner, executive pastor at the church, is leading the internship program.

“We have a huge desire to invest in the next generation, and we want to develop a pipeline of ministerial staff that can be part of our church, or a campus we start in the future or in another church,” he said.

It’s a residency program that will last 11 months, from September through July.

Ramie Kirkland and Sarah Czerkawski

Six female and six male participants will develop in four key areas: Personal spiritual development, theological development in the Wesleyan tradition, practical ministry and hands-on ministry experience in Beach Church departments.

There are needs for a lead pastor/campus pastor, worship/tech ministry, BeachKids, Connections, Beach Students, Communications, Missions or Operations.

It sounds like a lot, even for an almost year-long internship, but Sumner stresses the real bottom line will be when interns consider the question, “Who am I, and who has God created me to be?”

The answer to this question may be a positional call, such as taking on a job like Sumner’s; or it may be some other purpose in ministry.

The internship will allow the opportunity for exploring self as well as possibilities for mission. This experience in the church setting will allow interns, whatever they ultimately do in ministry, to be effective “from the get-go” as Sumner put it, adding, “We will have set them up well, so that they have a good grounding.”

The internship may even lead a participant to the realization that one is “not called to full-time ministry…and that’s ok,” Sumner said.

As of early May, four of the spots have been filled, but the church is leaving an open-ended July deadline for application. Sumner said at least one spot will be filled by an international intern.

Likely candidates may be recent graduates from college or seminary or individuals who feel God calling them in a new direction in ministry.

Either way, being part of this program will offer many new frontiers at the 80-year-old UMC, where Sunday mornings average 1,100 worshippers wide-ranging in age, family make up, race and commitment.

“Being at the beach area, we are reaching out to quite a few lost people, and we want to be a leader in our area to expand that reach,” Sumner said.

“In the next two or three years, we may be planting another church, and when we do, we will need people (like these interns) trained in our DNA to staff a new church or send some of our existing staff and backfill their positions with interns.”

The internship is unpaid, although Beach Church may help with raising funds, should an intern decide to do this.

Housing will be three blocks from the beach, adding another dimension to this dynamic opportunity. For more information, check out http://www.beachchurchjax.com/internships.

—Anne Dukes is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.



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