[an error occurred while processing this directive] This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in June 2006. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news
by Laura Lehman Amstutz
When Alicia Horst began seminary she knew that she didn’t want to do an internship in a congregation. While there are aspects of congregational ministry that intrigue Horst there are some aspects of congregational ministry that she knows won’t fit with her personality. This summer, Horst’s desire for a different kind of internship will be fulfilled in a way she never imagined.
One aspect of congregational ministry that is difficult to reconcile with Horst’s personality is her desire to travel. Horst grew up in Palermo, Italy, and moved to Harrisonburg when she was 13. Her international experiences have created a love of travel and intercultural communication.
She said, “I’ve always had a sense that who I am as a person and the church formats as they exist right now do not quite jive. Staying in one place makes me jittery, so being able to travel is very important to me. Being connected for extended periods of time to a geographical location has been fairly difficult for me.”
This summer, Horst will combine her love of travel with her call to spiritual formation, creating spaces for open conversation and pastoral care. As a member of the group calling themselves “BikeMovement,” Horst will travel from Bay City, Ore. to Ocean City, N.J.
The group will stop in Mennonite churches across the country to engage in conversation with young adults, and others who are interested, about young adult visions for the future of the church.
Many of the young adults participating have been part of smaller regional conversations about young adult visions for the church. However, they want to understand the opinions of young adults in the Mennonite Church as a whole.
Horst said, “There was encouragement for continuing conversation at a larger scale because I think some of these early conversations have been fairly regional and concentrated on Mennonite education locations, like Indiana and Virginia. There are Mennonites everywhere, not just in those places.”
The group wants to find out who young adult Mennonites are, what issues are important to them, and how they connect or don’t connect with the church. “It was fairly important to the planners of the trip that it not be something that was driven by an institution,” said Horst, “but that it was something young adults were doing with young adults.”
In about mid-March Horst was having an informal conversation with a member of this group and asked how information will be gathered and how it will be made available to the wider Mennonite Church. The group turned around and asked her if she would be willing to do this.
Originally Horst planned to take a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education this summer, to fulfill the internship requirement for a seminary Master’s of Divinity program. However, she was intrigued by this project. When she discussed this possibility with faculty and administration at the seminary, they were also intrigued.
Horst will be fulfilling her internship requirements by researching, planning for, and leading the conversations that will be held in each location, as well as paying attention to the relationships within the group and the way group members grow and change throughout the experience.
Various components of the trip appeal to Horst. One aspect is the idea of listening to young adults. With a concentration in spiritual formation and pastoral care, Horst has already had some experience with this. She has given spiritual direction to college students, worked with people who have been overseas for extended periods of their life, and had conversations with college students who have returned from cross cultural programs.
“I have gained a deep respect for the types of questions young adults are asking. A lot of these people are very honest about their sense of not connecting with church,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of integrity in young people who aren’t going to go through the motions just for the heck of it and that want to be intentional about who they are. If they are attending a church it is because they truly want to invest in it and connect with it.”
Horst is also excited about the possibility of movement. She said, “Part of my attraction to this program is the movement. We are going to find people, to hear their stories, rather than people having to find us. Being accessible to people is really appealing to me.”
Horst had originally planned to bike with the group, but she was recently injured while training. Now she will be a part of the support team, traveling with the group in vehicles, setting up the spaces for conversation, and recording and compiling the information the group gathers as it travels.
Horst graduated this spring with a Master’s of Divinity from Eastern Mennonite Seminary. This internship is her final requirement for the degree.
To learn more about bikemovement visit www.bikemovement.org.