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Our summer interns transform the world

Serving in Detroit

They are growing in faith by serving God’s people. The Summer Intern Program is an eight-week experience that places young adults in churches and non-profit sites around The Michigan Conference.

Senior Content Editor

United Methodists making a difference in Michigan. This is the 22nd year that young adults have been working as servant leaders through the Mission Intern Program

The program started in the Detroit Conference in 1999. Born out of the United Methodist Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty, the Mission Intern program continues to develop leadership among young United Methodists in Michigan.

This eight-week summer program provides service opportunities — in local churches and non-profits — for post-high young adults. The aim is to provide supervised on-board training for interns that also make a difference in children and youth’s lives in both rural and urban settings around the state. Congregations and agencies benefit because the interns’ helping hands enable them to expand their ministry with their local communities.

The Rev. Lisa Batten, Young Adult Initiatives Coordinator for The Michigan Conference, provides oversight for this ministry today. The Mission Intern Program has adapted during COVID, but is still making disciples and transforming the world. Batten remarks, “We continued to work with local congregations and United Methodist-related non-profits in serving children and families experiencing poverty.” She adds, “Each site found their own unique way to adapt to current Covid conditions, and Mission Interns adapted to the ways they served at their sites.”

She explains that “Several of the kid’s camps offered virtual or hybrid opportunities and outdoor in-person family nights. Non-profits held block parties and worked with returning volunteers.”  

Batten concludes, “The Mission Intern program is part of the Michigan Conference history in building the capacity of young adult leaders! In 2021, over 200 children were served in addition to numerous families and individuals who found community and support.

Lisa shares these reports she has received from young people this summer.


Caledonia Intern
CALEDONIA UMC COMMUNITY GARDEN. Carter Hammond serves as a Mission Intern at the church where he grew up. Carter coordinates volunteers to work in Caledonia UMC’s community garden. He planned a community event that brought children through senior citizens to the garden to enjoy the outdoors together, tending and harvesting the vegetables. Carter and Pastor Elizabeth Hurd, along with congregation members passed out invitations to the community Garden Day in the town’s parade. “Come play in the dirt.” One community member shared, “I didn’t know this garden existed but now that I do I will be by frequently.”
Interns work in Detroit
NOAH PROJECT DETROIT. NOAH hosted a block party for clients with a D.J., food, games, haircuts, and medical screens. The NOAH Project has continued to serve clients in Detroit throughout the pandemic and has been a site for multiple vaccine clinics. Mission Intern DaJon Fischer, second from left, served in various capacities, including case management, community center coordination, and bagged lunch distribution.
Intern serving in Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS TRINITY UMC OUTREACH. Second-year Mission Intern, Meghan Hartley, shares, “My time during the mission intern program is a time in which I can do good and help others while gaining life and future employment experience. I would say the program, more than anything, helps shape my faith. It shows me how God’s word is put into action and how I can follow God’s word to do better. I also learn so much about myself through this program, what kind of person I am becoming, and what I would like to do to help more in the future. The mission intern program is one that I am truly grateful for because it shows me and teaches me so much more than I ever expected and I believe it is shaping me into a better person.”
Interns serving in Flint
FLINT FREEDOM SCHOOLS. Freedom Schools were hosted in two locations — Bethel UMC and Calvary UMC — to serve over 50 children. These scholars learned to love to read and engage in activities through an intergenerational leadership model. Young adult servant leader interns are the teachers, a one to ten ratio, leading the morning opening called “Harambe,” with songs, cheers, and chants, and a guest reader. Harambe means “come together.”  Afternoon field trips and activities engage the scholars to learn about how they can make a difference for themselves, their communities, the state, nation, and world.
Interns in Flint
DETROIT SECOND GRACE UMC. In 2021, the congregation hosted its 7th summer of Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School. After taking last summer off, the church offered a hybrid model to reach those who are able to meet in person and those who still need online engagement. Young adult servant leader interns led the morning gathering, “Harambe.” Support from the SEED Foundation enabled Second Grace Freedom School to offer afternoon fun with a D.J., food truck, and painting classes.
Port Huron First UMC interns
PORT HURON FIRST UMC. This congregation has a long history of offering a day camp for children in their community. Annie Timm, attended camp as a child. She served as a Mission Intern and this year she is the site supervisor. She, along with Mission Intern, Josie Awe, have been excited by the number of kids attending camp. After taking a break last summer due to Covid, the kid’s camp was up and running this summer with over 30 children participating in morning chapel, singing, games, crafts, and afternoon field trips.
Lincoln Road UMC hosts interns
LINCOLN ROAD UMC. Mission Interns, Mariah Shann and Ethan Chu, served in the church’s food pantry and lead a weekday children’s ministry day camp. The focus was lessons of compassion.
Summer intern with Motown Mission
MOTOWN MISSION. Drew Seminary student Lydie Ngoie is experiencing the work of a small non-profit, serving as a Mission Intern at Motown Mission. Lydie works with volunteer groups and project partners in the city of Detroit while also learning the work of a church-related non-profit. She says her biggest lesson learned is, “how to communicate with everyone involved so that volunteers can have a good experience while the ministry and work with partners can continue.”
Interns work at Utica UMC
UTICA UMC. The church is in its second summer of virtual kid’s day camp. Mission Interns, Casey Kendall, Natalie Crossen, and Sam Irish pack weekly “fun in a bag” that include snacks, crafts, Bible stories, and games that are delivered to the homes of participants. Videos are uploaded twice weekly for children to log in at their convenience. Site supervisor, Jennifer Palooza is considering how to be a hybrid program next summer, with both in-person and a virtual option in order to reach as many families as possible.
Interns served at Cass Community Social Services
CASS COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES. Summer Mission Interns, Angel Linier and Sophia Erikson, enjoyed engaging with the children and families at Cass. The hardest work of the summer, “moving a refrigerator in and out of a tiny home” but “it’s worth all of the sweat!” Moving mattresses involved some muscle, too.

Summer interns worked at three other sites (no photos to share).  WEST BRANCH UMC sponsored a virtual God’s Awesome People kid’s ministry camp for the second year. Mission Interns, Todd Frank and Jesse Black packed weekly supply boxes for campers. Todd and Jesse created weekly videos to go along with the activity boxes. Jakob Klemens grew up a part of South Lyons UMC, each year making a trip north to serve with GOD’S COUNTRY COOPERATIVE PARISH. This year Jakob served as a Mission Intern for GCCP, coordinating volunteer groups. He shared, “I love the reason I am doing this work. It is a great way to spend the summer.” At CENTRO FAMILIAR CRISTIANO, two Mission Interns, Miriam Peralta De Garcia and Carla Hart, worked with children in their community. 

The Mission Intern Program is heading into its 23rd year. Applications will open in the spring of 2022.

~ Thank you to Lisa Batten, Young Adult Initiatives Coordinator for the Michigan Conference, for photos and ministry descriptions.

Last Updated on October 9, 2022

The Michigan Conference