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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Internship Project Story: Laura Phillips

Intern Laura Phillips 
Context: First/Palisade Lutheran Parish, Valley Springs, SD and Rural Rock County, MN 

Here is a photo of our group! (I was praying that God would send 10 and ended up with 12 of us!) We range in age from 30’s to 70’s.

Front Row: Deb (wearing a black sweater), Candy, Darlene, Laura (Intern), Carrie
Back Row: Lanette, Linda B., Kim, Linda H., Dottie, Lesley, Patti

Project: A Women’s Retreat 

  • Why was this project subject of interest to you?

I had been part of a congregation that held a women’s retreat each year (Spirit of Joy in Sioux Falls, SD) and was blessed to have a part in the leadership of it. Because I had been a witness to the bonding that women can experience through this kind of event and the rich learning that can take place, it was of interest to try a retreat with this congregation. It was the first event of its kind in this context! 

  • Why was your context a good fit for this project?

The women of this parish are actively involved in the day to day activity of the churches. They are the “workers,” quite often the ones who are handling service projects and outreach activities. It was a good fit, because they were a cohesive group to begin with, and this gave them the opportunity to just be together for a time of fun, fellowship and learning, rather than a time to get something done! 

  • Why might this project be of interest to your fellow interns?

There is such a unique bonding that occurs at events like this. Women can get to know one another on a deeper level than they do sitting in a pew next to one another. Even this group, many of whom had known one another for years, have new things to learn! They came back from the retreat calling it THE FIRST ANNUAL women’s retreat! 

Share an outline of your internship project: 

  • What: An overnight retreat for women. 
  • Who: For the woman of our parish, and others (daughters, mothers, friends) who wanted to attend. 
  • Where: Shetek Lutheran Ministries, Slayton, MN 
  • Purpose: A relaxing time of fellowship, joy and learning as we worked through the book of Philippians together. 
  • Hopes: That I would get to know the women of my parish in a deeper way, and that they would get to know one another better as well. Also, I knew going into this that Bible study was new to some of them. I wanted to make that part of the retreat fun and easy for all people to be able to come away with new knowledge and insight, and a deeper level of comfort with scripture—an “I can do a Bible Study!” attitude! 

Share the Outcomes and Transformations the Internship Context experienced:

The women who were able to come had such a great time—and have encouraged others to “come next year”! They felt relaxed, we had a lot of fun and laughter together, and they felt it was a good experience all around. They have since named it “The First Annual Women’s Retreat”…which means they are looking forward to another one! Also, some of the men of our parish told me they felt left out—"could there be a family retreat sometime?” I knew that it was good when at the end of our final worship experience the women just stayed… no one got up to go! We all just lingered there together. It was very meaningful. 

Share the Outcomes and Transformations you experienced:

This was a big learning experience for me! I had been part of planning a retreat at a large congregation, with a team of people, but I had never done anything like this on my own. It caused me to think carefully through what I knew had worked in the past, what I would need to adapt, and what would be especially meaningful for this group of women. In planning the study, I pulled together a number of resources and focused on the topic of JOY (the Epistle to the Philippians). Also, several resources were combined to plan worship (including Common Prayer and the Way to Lead Advent 2017 Week 3 Joy Meditation, along with our own With One Voice). I planned times that were interactive, some that were meditative, some that were quiet and some that were just fun! Now that the women of the parish know what this is all about, I believe that some would be willing to be part of planning another retreat as a team!

What “image” exists in your memory from your internship project experience?

Two images will stick with me: the first, watching the women move around our worship space with peaceful music and firelight/candlelight to several prayer stations and it being so meaningful and worshipful. The second, that they just stayed right where they were at the end—all at peace, no one in a rush to go—it was like an afterglow somehow! 

How might this project experience influence your ministry in a settled ministry call?

I love the fellowship of women! This is a project I would do over and over because it is a time for God to speak into the hearts of people in a unique and intimate way—one that does not always happen on Sunday morning!



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