Story Magazine

Spring/Summer, 2010

Full circle: From intern pastor to internship supervisor

by Tracy Behrendt, Correspondent

Geoff Sinibaldo, left, attended the ordination of his former intern, Mark Orf, '10, in February in Colorado.

In less than 10 years, Geoff Sinibaldo has gone from intern pastor to internship supervisor--all at the same church where he first grew in his ministry. His first role at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Avon, Conn., helped him in his current position.

"That hands-on practicum piece is just so important," said Sinibaldo, '02. "To have somebody who kind of knows what they are doing supervise that and reflect with the person really is helpful."

When called to St. Matthew in 2003, Sinibaldo encouraged St. Matthew to continue its internship program, which had operated since 1986. Today, he sees three pieces to his role as supervisor--guiding the intern, encouraging growth in the congregation and connecting the intern to the larger church. By following these steps, Sinibaldo hopes that his interns find their paths, even if it doesn't come easily.

"I am against trying to shape a person into what I think they should be or to create cookie-cutter people," said Sinibaldo. "It's more helping to affirm them than breaking them down. I think bombing at something as an intern can be the best learning one can have."

Much of this wisdom has come both through experience and from his mentor, William S. Carter. Carter served first as his internship supervisor and has been the head pastor at St. Matthew since 1984.

While Sinibaldo has given much to the five interns he has supervised, he's also learned much as an internship supervisor.

"It's helped me not be critical of myself and think about why I do things a particular way," he said. "I have certainly learned things from every intern that have strengthened my own ministry, which has just been a real blessing."