INDIAN LAND — Annie White recently completed her internship as a vicar with Crossroads Lutheran Church in Fort Mill and Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Waxhaw, N.C.
The internship is a requirement for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as the master’s of divinity that White is currently pursuing.
“It serves as an opportunity to grow into your pastoral identity and leadership while still being supervised and taught,” White said.
A vicar in the ELCA is a student pastor in training. Traditionally, students in an ELCA seminary attend two years of academic training prior to an internship year and then return to seminary for a final year of study, where they integrate academics with their practical experiences.
White began her one-year internship with Crossroads and Amazing Grace last July.
“As I was preparing for internship, I realized that I was eager for a mission-based context where ‘church’ might look like something outside of the norm,” she said.
Having previously served full time as a director of youth and family ministry for six years in St. Louis, Mo., White said she was used to being in a traditional context and was ready for a new challenge.
“I truly believe that God is up to all sorts of new things in our world that might just look different than what we’ve experienced before,” said White.
White had interviewed with Crossroads Pastor Richard Carter, who was seeking an intern with a passion for mission ministry. It was a perfect fit, she said.
“I was blessed to have a supervisor who was eager to let me get involved in as many ways as possible right from the start,” White said.
Over the course of the year with Crossroads and Amazing Grace, White helped plan and lead worship, lead children’s sermons, teach adult bible studies, organize summer vacation bible study day camp, established a children’s ministry team and developed a Friday night ministry for busy adults called Time to Gather in Faith.
“I (also) helped both congregations become engaged in community festivals in both Indian Land and Waxhaw so that we can continue to reach out to and with our neighbors,” she said.
The most exciting part of the experience, according to White, was witnessing Crossroads go through the final processes to become an officially organized member congregation of the ELCA. The church was welcomed into the South Carolina Synod of the ELCA on May 29 at the group’s annual assembly in Columbia.
“My involvement with these churches has been life-changing and completely affirming for my sense of call to ministry in the ELCA,” she said. “They are both beautiful representations of who the Lutheran Church is in our world.”
White will return to the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Columbia in August, where she has nine more courses to complete before receiving a master’s of divinity.
“The willingness (of Crossroads and Amazing Grace) to accept me as a student among them, with all of my quirks, ideas and mistakes along the way, has been the most beautiful representation of God’s grace and the work of the priesthood of all believers,” White said.
“I will deeply cherish my time with these places and people of God.”