Allison Galbreath, Elisha intern at First UMC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"The number of people that go to First UMC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is bigger than the number of people that live in my entire home town," says Allison Galbreath, Elisha Intern. Galbreath is from Steele, North Dakota, a rural farming community, where there are only three businesses in town. Sioux Falls has a population of 150,000, a much larger, diverse community.
"When I heard I was going to First United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the Elisha Project internship, I was surprised and nervous. It was the first time that I would be this far away from home for this longer time period. God has a plan for everyone," says Galbreath who is a member of the United Methodist Church in Steele and attends First United Methodist Church in Jamestown, North Dakota, as an undergraduate student, who will be a junior, at the University of Jamestown. A psychology major with a minor in character and leadership, she is active in campus ministry, student senate, and theater.
"I felt the call during spring break of my freshman year," says Galbreath. She can describe the exact moment she experienced her call to ordained ministry. Allison was home on spring break, riding with her brother out to the farm, where they keep livestock for 4-H. "As we were talking, I had an overwhelming thought or idea, about becoming a pastor," she says. "I had made a lot of excuses for myself. I realized at that moment; they were excuses."
She visited with her pastor, Rev. Steve Behrens, who told her about the Elisha internship, an opportunity to explore her call to ministry. It was too late to apply for that year. So as soon as the application period opened up this year, she applied.
Allison Galbreath helps out with the 2019 Miracle Offering at the 2019 Dakotas Annual Conference. Photos by Joni Rasmussen, jlynn studios.
At First UMC in Sioux Falls, Galbreath has assisted with the worship service that is held at noon each Wednesday. A mini version of a Sunday church service. She delivered a sermon, with a focus on I Peter 2:4-10, Jesus as our cornerstone. The movie Homeward Bound reinforced the sermon content. The movie illustration connected the sermon to the series for the summer, God at the movies.
Other duties during the ten-week summer internship included learning about the management of the congregation and small groups. "I attended a lot of meetings as part of my internship," says Galbreath. "I led a Bible study each week on Mondays. We used the book Simply Grace by Bruce Blumer."
Galbreath went to Kansas City on the Urban Plunge experience and Youth 2019, as an adult chaperone for First UMC. She says, "It was different to go as an adult chaperone. I loved it. Mission work is so fundamental to my faith journey. A Holy Spirit moment for me was, when I heard I was going to be at First UMC in Sioux Falls, I thought that is where it all started for me. I was on a mission trip in 2015 when I first felt an urge that I might be called to ministry."
As a seventh-grader, Galbreath attended Impact Sioux Falls, where she stayed at First UMC, and mission work was headquartered out of the church. "I love being in the mission field. It is the church in action," she says.
The First UMC congregation is involved in many partnerships and ministries throughout the Sioux Falls community. There are significant ministries like daycare, after school and summer program for school-aged children, the Night Watch canteen, and a lot more. "I got to experience all of that. I have been able to serve and see all kinds of perspectives," says Galbreath.
She describes the internship as a graced-filled experience, filled with lots of fantastic learning. "I feel so blessed to work with Pastor Bob Ruedebusch and Pastor Taylor Johnson. I love the way they approach people," she says.
The largest learning curve was hospital visits. She was challenged but supported, to first go along with Pastor Bob and Pastor Taylor to the hospital and connect with those that were members of our church. Later into her internship, she went each Thursday on visits by myself.
Galbreath reports the skills she learns in the larger congregational setting, of First UMC in Sioux Falls, are transferable to any size church. Things like encouraging new ministries, managing people, being present, and practicing self-care are things that have been modeled for her. She plans to take these skills wherever she goes.
"I have learned that size does not matter when it comes to some issues and functions in the church. You still need to have small groups and leaders. Communication is the key to success. Volunteers are critical to ministry. Lay leadership is key to a vital ministry," she says.
The Elisha internship has affirmed Galbreath's call to ministry. "I was at Youth 2019 in Kansas City when I realized that this is not something that has happened by chance. God has called me," she says. "I now approach God with my whole self. I am authentic. I put down the barriers. That was an important step."