Tucked down a short hallway just off of the bustling workroom inside Parkside Church, is a small office with several cubicle-style desks that serves as home base for our pastoral interns: Michael Porter, Ryan Loague, and Erik Veker (pronounced vee-ker).
It is a functional space with desks, chairs, and bookshelves, but more importantly, it is a shared space. When they are all in the building at the same time, you may find them here talking together bolstered by the camaraderie they share as each one of them seeks to discern the call to pastoral ministry. For each of these young men, this year will serve as a proving ground as they learn the ins-and-outs of ministry, as exemplified and taught by Parkside’s pastorate.
Different Paths, Same Destination
For the most part, Parkside’s internship program welcomes recent college graduates. But this year, two of our interns are already equipped with advanced degrees. Both Ryan and Michael have earned their master of divinity; Ryan from Southern Seminary, and Michael from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Erik graduated from Wheaton with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies and will begin his master’s degree as a part of his internship.
Different Goals, Same Question
While all of the interns will work through the same ministry rotations, each one will come to their own conclusion about whether pastoral ministry is the correct vocation. The goal may seem ostensibly the same; however, each one is approaching the internship and the call to pastoral ministry with his own filter.
Erik contemplates the nuances of the definition of being a pastor. While preaching may appear to be primary, Erik wants to explore the breadth and width of all that pastoral ministry may encompass. “I want to grow my capabilities to shepherd people. I think one of my highest callings, Lord willing, is to be a father, and in a lot of ways that is shepherding. So regardless of whether I’m in the ministry or not, I [feel] I must grow in those capacities.”
Michael, a former adjunct professor and music studio head, is comfortable with teaching and leading. For Michael, the question regarding pastoral ministry is what does it look like for him? How can he best be used? Having been in academia for several years, Michael’s search lies in wanting to know what skills and gifts he possesses and whether they should be used in academia, the church, or elsewhere. “A personal goal for me and my wife is that because we came out of such a busy and hectic season, one thing that we want to get back to is simply serving in a church, seeing this time as a bit of rest, and simply leave it at that and the Lord will do something when it ends.”
Ryan seeks to gain a broader view of what practical pastoral ministry looks and feels like. As he weighed his options, also considering doctoral work, he knew that pausing on pastoral ministry for another 4-7 years while working on a doctorate was probably not the right path. Being in the academic world can have its own kind of influence, but “it’s just not the same kind of fulfillment that I had when I was on the ground serving others in a church,” says Ryan. “It’s not the same as being able to love these people who are gathering at church on Sundays and all throughout the week.”
Welcome to Sunny Cleveland, Ohio
Somehow, we won out over Southern California:
- Erik applied for a communications job with the San Diego Padres.
- Ryan considered another internship in Southern California.
- Michael comes from a small town east of San Diego.
And yet, they all chose to come to Cleveland. According to Ryan, “the weather was very appealing out there to say the least, but something about the pastoral team here and a lot of other different factors made this feel like the right opportunity.”
Little Known Facts About the Interns
The 2018-19 class of Parkside Pastoral Interns is exceptional. Did you know...
- Erik, a former college football wide receiver, is a notable sleep talker – he once congratulated someone on winning the Book of the Year award in his sleep. He and his wife, Olivia, were married in September.
- Ryan, a former high school sprinter who can also juggle (and yes, there is a combined sport called Joggling…Google it), is also deathly allergic to nuts. All nuts. Please don’t send him baked goods with nuts. Ryan and his wife, Jessica, are expecting a baby, Penny, in November.
- And Michael, who used to skateboard as his sole means of transportation through college, can do a spot-on imitation of Pastor Jonathan Holmes. Michael, his wife, Takana, and their daughter, Elsie have been at Parkside since late May/early June.
Please pray for these young men and their families…
For Erik and Olivia Veker, that they would flourish in their marriage and grow in their love for each other, inspiring each other to love God more. Please pray for their families. For Erik, please pray for clarity for the future.
For Ryan and Jessica Loague, please pray for the arrival of their baby, Penny, and that the rest of Jessica’s pregnancy would be healthy. Please pray for their families, especially Ryan’s father.
For Michael, Takana, and Elsie Porter, please pray for their families, and in particular, for Michael’s father.
For all of our interns -- past, present, and future: Please pray for all of our interns and their families as they continue to serve the Lord and His people faithfully.