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Elisha intern Jensen gets behind-the-scenes look at ministry

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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Allison Jensen, Elisha intern at Spearfish UMC. Photos by Joni Rasmussen, jlynn studios.

“The Elisha internship gives you a behind the scenes look at ministry,” says Allison Jensen, an Elisha intern at Spearfish United Methodist Church this summer. Jensen has spent the past five weeks learning what being a pastor in a local church is all about, under her mentor, Rev. Scott McKirdy.

Jensen is a member of Zion United Methodist Church in Beresford, South Dakota. She also is completing her degree in Human Services and Family Science at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. “I am not completely sure when and where, but I think I am headed to seminary,” she said.

The in and outs of ministry at a local church involve a lot of meetings, according to Jensen. She has been able to attend those meetings and take a look at what it takes to be an administrator and leader of a church. “I was amazed at how many leaders it takes to run things in a church,” says Jensen. “Pastor Scott believes in and looks to lay leaders in the church to make things happen.”

According to Jensen, lay people who have stepped up to the leadership challenges are apparent. “These are the people that understand the need to reach the next person for Jesus. They welcome you in and are inviting.”

Allison felt her call to ministry as a member of the Dakotas Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM). She felt an urge to find out more and looked to Rev. Kris Mutzenberger, one of the adult leaders for CCYM, for guidance. 

At the Annual Conference in 2015, she stepped forward at the altar call during the Celebration of Life in Ministry Service. She had her first contact with Rev. Theta Miller, who encouraged her.

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Allison Jensen, front left, visits with colleagues at an ice cream social in the park at the 2019 Annual Conference.

Jensen headed to South Dakota State University for her undergraduate degree and became involved at First United Methodist Church in Brookings. Rev. Miller encouraged her to explore her call and apply for an Elisha internship. “She was persistent,” says Jensen. “She even asked me to consider applying for candidacy for ordained ministry.”

God is paving the path to ministry for Jensen, providing Holy Spirit awakenings. Joan and Everett Follette are hosting Jensen while she is Spearfish. The Follettes are related to and connected to people that Jensen knows in Beresford. “I thought, really God!” She found herself in a real God moment. 

Every week McKirdy and Jensen sit down and plan out the week’s activities and review plans. She has participated in worship planning, funerals, staff-parish relations meetings, Bible studies, and organizing Sidewalk Sunday School.

“I think that I have most enjoyed getting to know people and connecting with them. That is one of the highlights for me and one of my strengths,” Jensen says.

One other highlight is accompanying Pastor Scott on care visits. She sees him as someone who is well respected and knows the ins and outs of various protocols at facilities where care visits take place. “It is fascinating to see all of the places. Pastor Scott has a huge presence in the community and knows how to connect,” she says.

This past week, Jensen delivered her first sermon at Spearfish UMC. She preached about a familiar topic, stepping out of your comfort zone. “Public speaking is not something I am comfortable with,” she says. She used her fear and experiences to share the messages from Matthew 15: 32-39 and Luke 10: 35-47. 

“I shared during my sermon that applying for the Elisha internship and coming to Spearfish is a huge leap of faith for me. It is definitely out of my comfort zone,” says Jensen.  

She hopes to be involved in assisting with and planning a funeral and connect with even more people throughout the summer. Next year, she will take a gap year and then make plans to head to seminary. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do before the Elisha internship, but I feel like I have affirmed my call to ministry this summer,” she says. 


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