Since 2009, Parkside has helped dozens of men discern whether the call to pastoral ministry, or missions work, was the right path for them. As we bid farewell to one of our first pastoral interns, Mike Willmer, who will soon be installed as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in New Castle, Pennsylvania, we also welcome our latest class of interns: Elijah Brook, Beau Pruitt, and Matt Ross. These men will work alongside Parkside’s pastors and staff to learn more about the ins and outs of pastoral ministry.
Introducing Elijah, Beau, and Matt
Elijah Brook, 22, comes to us from Spring Harbor University in Michigan, but originally hails from Hudson, Ohio. His wife, Jessie, works at Heartwood Coffee Roasters in Hudson, and both Elijah and Jessie are coffee connoisseurs and enjoy spending time outdoors.
Beau Pruitt, also 22, is a recent graduate of Moody Bible Institute and grew up in Austin, Texas. He and his wife, Danielle, who is a full-time nanny in Beachwood, are living in Shaker Heights and are enjoying exploring the city. They, too, are avid coffee drinkers and are always on the lookout for a great café to try.
Matt Ross is a 28-year-old graduate of Georgetown College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned his Master’s in Divinity. Matt is married to Catherine, who is working as a teacher’s aide at Heritage Classical Academy while she earns her Master’s in Education.
Experience and Expectations
Each intern comes with a different set of experiences and expectations. Matt has some previous experience preaching to a small congregation at his home church in Kentucky, as does Beau through a few other short-term internships. All three led Bible studies and small groups, but they are all looking forward to the year-long intensive experience that Parkside will afford them. Elijah puts it simply enough, “You get to do stuff!”
“It’s a great opportunity that God has placed all three of us here to learn how to preach, how to teach, how to study, how to relate to people,” says Elijah. “I want to follow God’s path wherever He wants me. I don’t know what it is yet, but I want to take what I learn here and apply it to wherever it takes me next.”
For Matt, who has some preaching experience, his initial notion of being a pastor focused on just that -- preaching. “When I [first] felt called into ministry, I just thought a pastor got up on a Sunday morning, preached a 40-45 minute sermon and studied for the rest of the week to prepare for the next sermon. But pastoral ministry encompasses so many different things. It’s a lot of hard work. I think this internship will provide an opportunity to be almost like a greenhouse where I can work on strengthening some of the things that I know that I’m weak at,” Matt says, acknowledging that pastoral ministry can be very humbling. “I said to the church I came from, ‘It’s great to know what you aspire to. It’s good to know where you’re gifted, but it’s also sobering to know where you’re not [gifted]. We serve Jesus Christ who is the perfect prophet, the priest, and king. He is the ultimate shepherd of His flock, and yet in His providence and in His design, He has called sinful broken men to lead His church and what a humbling thing that is.’
“For me specifically,” says Beau, “I’ve been in Bible college studying theology and theory, and this [internship] was an opportunity that was clearly different and complementary to what I’ve been doing because it takes all of those ideas and theoreticals and touches down with actual people and actual ministry. I’m looking forward to practical experience and clarity about where the Lord wants [Danielle and me] in ministry.”
“I don’t know what God is calling me to do,” Elijah explains. “He led me to Parkside and I don’t know if He wants me to go into pastoral ministry necessarily, or if he’s calling me to go be in the mission field somewhere. [Pastoral ministry] is new to me since I’ve never done anything like this and it’s new to me in that it’s on my radar for once.”
On a Personal Note
All three of the couples are enjoying exploring Cleveland. They’re looking forward to seeing LeBron James and the Cavs play, although Beau and Matt claim they will remain loyal their hometown teams. When they’re not studying or working, you’ll find Elijah and Jessie hanging out with Beau and Danielle at the newest coffee spots around Cleveland while Matt and Catherine enjoy working out or watching Netflix.
How You Can Pray
For Elijah and Jessie, please pray for their transition to a new place. Elijah grew up here, but Jessie is from Michigan and they both attended school there.
For Beau and Danielle, pray also for their transition to Cleveland. “We’re feeling displaced a little bit, like this is so new. We don’t know any people, and day by day it’s getting a little better, but pray that the Lord would help us settle in.”
For Matt and Catherine, “Pray for Catherine and me in marriage. We’re really asking that this would be an experience where God causes us to grow closer to one another and that we would love one another more at the end of this than we did at the beginning. Marriage is wonderful. It’s more important than what I would ever do in ministry and so just pray that I would grow in learning to love her and to love her more. And then please also pray that we would have a refined view of what we’re called to.”