Seminary Internships

On July 1 I began my internship under Rev. VanOverloop and the council of Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church. This has been a big change for me. Instead of working at my regular summer job (repairing pallets) and taking classes in the seminary in the fall, I have been working for Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church. This has been a change for my family as well. We are members at Faith PRC, but since the internship started we have been attending the worship services at Byron Center. It was hard to leave Faith, but we looked forward to meeting the congregation in Byron Center. The members in Byron Center welcomed us warmly, and we have greatly enjoyed their fellowship and communion. 

Most of the work that I have done on the internship has been on behalf of Byron Center under the guidance of Rev. VanOverloop. The main aspects of this work include writing and delivering sermons, teaching catechism, and going on pastoral visits. I especially enjoyed going on pastoral visits, since this is an aspect of the ministry that cannot be experienced in seminary. At first I simply went along with Rev. VanOverloop to watch and listen. Later on, when we went on visits, I led, and on some visits I went alone. 

There have been other new experiences that have not involved as much work on my part, but which nevertheless have taught me much about the ministry. Of these expe riences perhaps the most valuable has been sitting in on and observing consistory and council meetings. From these meetings I have gained insight into and a greater appreciation for the work that elders and deacons perform. In addition to this I have paid careful attention to how these meetings are chaired, knowing that ministers fresh out of seminary are given that responsibility as soon as they are installed! The experience that made me the most nervous was leading family visitation. I thought I could handle leading for ten or fifteen minutes, but a whole hour? Thankfully, the elder who accompanied me and the family we visited were very helpful, so that it went better than I expected. 

Apart from the work that I did on behalf of Byron Center, I was also required by the seminary to read twelve books and write reports on them. I was able to finish most of these reports in the months before the busy catechism and society season started. 

The most enjoyable part of the internship has been meeting with Rev. VanOverloop on Monday mornings, often at a coffee shop in Grandville. Though these meetings were mainly for the purpose of discussing my sermons, they became a time in which we discussed many things pertaining to the ministry and to the church in general. I used these meetings as an opportunity to ask Rev. VanOverloop many questions pertaining to practical aspects of the ministry. I appreciate his patience in allowing me to ask the questions and in taking the time to answer them. Often Rev. VanOverloop used these meetings as an opportunity to talk about work that he did that I was not able to observe. He is a member of the Domestic Mission Committee and of the Theological School Committee, he serves as assistant stated clerk of synod, and he is one of the two church visitors appointed by Classis East. What I learned from talking about these activities is that ministers are busy working on behalf of the churches in general as well as for the particular church they are serving. It has been eye opening for my wife and me to find out how many nights a minister is away from home attending various meetings. 

The internship has been a very positive experience for me and my family. I am glad that I have had this opportunity to gain practical experience by putting to use what I have learned in seminary. Through the internship God has confirmed in me even more my calling to serve in the ministry. In addition to this, I believe He has better equipped me for the work that I will soon be taking up, D.V. 

As the internship draws to a close (December 31) my family and I are preparing to say goodbye to Byron Center. To Rev. VanOverloop and the congregation in Byron Center we say thanks for welcoming us into your fellowship and for all of your support.