What a wonderful whirlwind of experiences! This summer has been full of both chaotic and peaceful moments, days filled with emails and filled with relationship-building, times of overwhelming busyness and of unexpected relaxation, experiences filled with challenging questions with even more challenging answers (and several easy questions with easy answers)- and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have spent my time chaperoning camp trips, visiting members in care facilities, facilitating Bible study, wearing crazy costumes for VBS, and getting to know the people that make Tabernacle a wonderful “home” for me.

The one thing that surprised me the most about this summer was something I learned about myself. For the past 3 years, my answer to the question, “What do you want to do after seminary?” has been, “Children’s ministry.” And while that is still very much a part of my ministerial identity, throughout the last three months, I also had the opportunity to do a lot of things that an Associate Pastor would do, because I was helping Dan and Judy find their balance in a world without Sterling.  So while Dan was focusing on senior pastor roles, and Judy on music ministry and the unexpected details of church life, I found myself embarking on an internship more focused on the tasks of an Associate Pastor- and I loved it! This was an unexpected turn in my journey, but one for which I am grateful. I am grateful for a church that believed in gifts and talents I didn’t even know were a part of me. I am grateful for a church that allowed me to explore a new part of my ministerial identity and affirmed me over the course of the past three months. I am grateful that this summer I was able to witness “church” happening all throughout the week, not just on Sunday mornings at 11. And I am grateful for a God who is constantly reminding me (and us) to be ready for the unexpected.

As my summer internship comes to a close, I find myself wondering, “What’s next?” While I will still be serving on the pastoral staff as an intern, my job responsibilities will be changing. I will be a part-time intern instead of serving full-time; many of my jobs this summer will shift back to their original owners, while new jobs are assigned; and I will have to find a new balance between work and school as I enter into my last year of seminary. Even though the class assignments are starting to find their place in my planner and books are arriving for the upcoming year, I cannot wait to continue to minister alongside you and continue to explore the unexpected things when it comes to church ministry. This summer has opened up so many doors of ministry that I never considered. I may not know where the path is leading, but I know that it is going to be fun along the way. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the opportunity to learn about myself and to learn what “church” should look like and live like.

Grace and peace,

Kristen Koger

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