Last year we began the Ecumenical Internship program with Redeemer Lutheran Church to experiment boldly with new forms of being church and reach out to more people in our neighbourhood. (Read more here: Our Four vicars introduce themselves)
Our four Vicars Silke Fahl, Jordan Smith, Adam McComb and Caroline Raddatz have done exactly that, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately Vicar Raddatz’s time was cut short when she couldn’t return to Canada in March.
We also thank the internship committee made up of members from MLC and Redeemer for encouraging our vicars.
On Sunday August 30 we marked the end of the Internship Program during the virtual service at 10:00 am. It wasn’t a final farewell to our vicars but an opportunity to show our gratitude for their work as part of this team.
Read more about the experience from our vicars and their next steps:
As I stepped into Martin Luther Church on my first day of internship, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. A number of classmates had just completed their internships in various congregations, but this was going to be a very different experience: four interns, two congregations, two pastors, and an English speaker working in a majority German community. From the first day in the office the energy level was high, Pastor Christian and Iris were encouraging me to try new things, and permission was there to be experimental.
One of my favourite memories from this year will be the times we opened our doors in new ways. This happened twice for PA days when we invited children who had the day off from school to come and enjoy some activities. We welcomed several neighbourhood children into the building and worked with the daycare to offer crafts, stories, snacks, and even the chance to build a model organ. We also got to meet new members of the community as we opened our doors each day of Advent for evening prayer and the opportunity to find some quiet space in the sanctuary. During those twenty-four days it felt like the community’s spiritual life was able to expand out from Sunday morning and reach out to new people through the rest of the week.
I will mark the end of my internship on August 30 and my next steps are slowly becoming clearer. This internship marks the end of my academic requirements and so I will have successfully earned my Master of Divinity degree. Then, in the early fall I will be meeting with both the committee that oversees candidates for ordination and then the Bishop’s examining committee who will hopefully both approve me for ordination. At that point I will be eligible for call and will be seeing which congregations have vacancies and might be willing to extend a call to a new pastor. Until then, I will continue working part-time at Martin Luther and Redeemer Church to help facilitate re-opening of the church facility and live broadcasting. While my family and I would love to stay in the GTA, over the next few months we will be exploring where God is calling us to serve. The support I have received from everyone at Redeemer and Martin Luther over the past year has been appreciated and I appreciate your prayers as I continue through the process of becoming a pastor.
– Vicar Jordan Smith
Looking back at that past 15 months, there are a lot of things I’ve learned and experienced, a lot of things and people that influenced me in a positive way. Before coming here, I’ve often heard that working in a team with other pastors is often stressful and tension filled. The work with my fellow vicars and pastors gave me a different example firsthand. Was it always tension free? No, but I felt that where we disagreed, we did so in a very constructive way. Another thing I’ll always remember fondly are the days spent in the office, and working with all the wonderful volunteers, and the countless great conversations I had with members of the congregation. The mix of traditional ministry and trying new things was and still is so inspiring to me and I hope I’ll be able to continue that so some degree. There wasn’t a moment where I didn’t feel supported (thank you so much to everyone for that!) and I’m still so happy and grateful that the congregation accepted my offer to extend my internship and that my synod (Landeskirche) and the EKD said yes as well.
I still have almost 4 months here at MLC before I’ll return to Germany, but some time before mid-October I’ll find out in which congregation I’ll work as a pastor upon my return. It will be somewhere in eastern Lower Saxony and hopefully in a city or at least very close to one. Some time at the beginning of January I’ll be ordained in that congregation and will stay there for at least three years. I’m really looking forward to that and am excited to be ordained and to finally see my family again in-person. Yet at the same time I don’t want to think about having to leave MLC and Toronto. But I dare say that is often the case with endings and new beginnings. And this won’t be the last time I’m in Canada, if I have a say in it.
– Vicar Silke Fahl
My first introduction to the Ecumenical Internship was an email sent by the Rev. Dr. Christopher C. Brittain, Dean of Divinity and Margaret E. Fleck Chair in Anglican Studies, known at MLC simply as Chris of Chris and Katja. At the time my understanding of internships/placements at Trinity was limited. I was sure however that placements are 12 weeks long, involve only one church, and of course are usually in an Anglican church. I also knew from the subject line of that email, I wanted in!
After meeting with Iris and both Pastors I was enthused and somehow after a brief meeting with Iris and Pastor Christian I was committed. Although I don’t ever recall saying “yes” to this experiment I found myself at my desk scanning and sending in a contract, drafting my learning goals, and getting ready for camp and the year ahead.
What a year it has been. I have joyfully told the story many times of my introduction to the internship and the Lutheran church. The trip north to Camp Lutherlyn was the start of this experience, a new place, surrounded by new faces, serving two new churches, it had all the elements for a sane person’s nightmare, I was excited. I rolled up in my Jeep (Joleen) after 6.5 hours of driving, which Pastor had told me would be 3, all the new faces turned toward me, I slithered out of the seat praying my legs still worked and was quickly in the midst of it all. Each face was open, kind, intrigued, and smiling, it somehow felt like a homecoming.
The days, weeks, and months have blended into each other in a whirlwind of experiences, conversations, success, failures, lessons learned, and open faces revealing open hearts. There are moments that really standout, ones that have led me to say, “people should not be allowed to be ordained without this experience.”
For me one of the most profound elements was our Friday Sessions. They were facilitated by Pastor Christian, even when he was trying to take a back seat. These adventures involved a heavy morning, lunch, reflection, and some pastoral care, which was often needed by the end of the day as we grappled with the big questions.
What is the role of the/a Pastor?
What does the role entail, demand, require, offer?
Who is the Pastor of the future?
What is the role of the Church, a church?
When considering your answers what are the difference between the Canadian and German context?
Is your education/seminary preparing you for this role?
We poured over these questions for hours, spent time over meals working out answers, agreed, agreed to disagree, and learned a lot about ourselves and each other. These Friday sessions included, Chris Brittain+, +Michael Pryse, Laurie Knott, Martin Hafele, and others. Their contributions were eye-opening, they said what I needed to hear, they spoke with hope when I felt despotic, they offered affirmation where I felt superfluous. Those who took the time to mentor us will be the grounded, hopeful, and servant hearted leaders in the storm ahead, as the Church we are blessed to have them. The Friday Sessions were an incredible way for the group of Vicars to realise we have permission to dream big, go big, try hard, even fail hard.
One of the ideas that Vicar Jordan had was to open the church, simply open it and see what happens. He planned evening prayer, thematic days for children, youth, and families, and he hosted them faithfully. Watching his hard work and invested heart pay off was a favourite time for me.
Sunday Funday is a great email/liturgy that goes out each week during the school year to families with school aged children, it is the COVID version of Sunday School but better! Marlena, Solveig, Pedro, and Jocelyn are dedicated souls who put more time, energy, and effort into a Sunday Funday than most mega churches. When I look back at those emails and the moving stories and testimonials shared, I am so impressed with that team, sharing those emails with other churches and friends has been one of my greatest joys.
The year to come is going to be a beautiful kind of busy. I will continue my studies at Trinity college and my service at both Redeemer and Martin Luther Churches. I am hopeful and prayerful that this coming year will continue to see our congregations serving God boldly. I have enough courses remaining and diocese/synod auditioning to keep me very busy for the next three semesters. It won’t be all study as I hope to continue serving these communities and continue in my role as care-taker of the Parsonage. It would appear I have borrowed parts of Pastor Christian’s life, I love it, and I don’t plan on giving it back any time soon. My time with so many Germans has emboldened me to be more honest and direct. I can honestly say, I am anxious about online learning. Yet, I can also say with complete honesty, I am both hopeful and confident that the dwelling Spirit will lead, those open hearts will listen, and God’s love will be known in and through those once new faces.
– Vicar Adam McComb