faith in action

Take Aways From My Time as Theological Intern

Our theological intern Jackie Celin gives voice to the many learnings she gleaned from the work and staff of the General Board of Church and Society.

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It is hard to believe that I am in the last few weeks of my Theological Internship with the General Board of Church and Society.

I am amazed by how much I have learned and experienced in just two semesters. This past month, I have been primarily focused on researching the Farm Bill and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). I have also spent more time with the Domestic Human Needs (DHN) Working Group as part of the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC), including taking notes for a virtual congressional hill visit to discuss our priority issues. DHN is focused on ending poverty and hunger by “advocating for policy that improves people’s lives.”

Below are several key takeaways from this theological internship experience.

We are Called to this Task

I more deeply understand how our Faith calls us to this work of Justice and how we are called with urgency, love, humility, and compassion. Micah 6:8 reminds us, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” While offering a hand to people in need, we also need to question and examine the systems and structures that continue to oppress people and communities in our society. And as people of faith, we need to center the voices of the marginalized and remember not to place the burden of our financial challenges as a country on the most vulnerable among us.

We are Grounded in our Faith

The people I have worked with over the past few months have also shown me the importance of remaining grounded in our Faith as we do God’s work of Justice. We keep ourselves centered on God through prayer, scripture, discipleship, and worship. At times, the task can seem overwhelming, but it is through our devotion to God that we are sustained in the ups and downs, as we look on with hope toward the transformation of our society.

We Cannot Do the Work Alone

Working more closely this past month with DHN, I am starting to see familiar faces in the interfaith community, and I am seeing each person in action. I realize how the voices of many can help strengthen the voices of those that are often silenced. I also see the value in the collaboration among our staff, and I can better appreciate the ways many social issues interact with one another.

We Help Empower the People called Methodists in Justice Work

Church & Society is an agency of the entire denomination worldwide. We live out the shared vision of our United Methodist Social Principles and Resolutions by being the hands and feet that advocate daily on behalf of social concerns that affect humanity, creation, and the world. We also provide ways for congregations and individuals to participate in this work. This past week, I drafted an Action Alert that will invite Methodists to participate in SNAP advocacy by emailing their support to Congress. We also offer Faith and Facts cards, email updates, Seminar programs, and Justice-Centered Worship.

Next Steps Forward

After one more year of Seminary, I anticipate graduating from Claremont School of Theology in May 2024. I live in Seattle, WA, and am a Certified Candidate for ordained ministry on the Deacon track within the Pacific Northwest Conference. Once commissioned, I hope to continue doing the work of Justice, Service, Word, and Compassion.