Ministry in the making

Students involved in the Ministry Guidance Program (MGP) and introduction to ministry class have the opportunity to acquire an internship that allows them to gain ministry experience on-campus and in the Waco community. Photo courtesy of Dana Curtis

By Jordan Davidson | Reporter

Through the Ministry Guidance Program (MGP) and introduction to ministry class, Baylor students have the opportunity to acquire an internship that allows them to gain ministry experience.

For Evergreen, CO senior Annie Barnett, working in ministry is much more than even just gaining experience.

“It’s not about yourself,” Barnett said. “It’s about serving others and really making sure that you are there for them in whatever way possible.”

According to the Department of Religion’s website, the MGP is “designed to help students who are exploring careers in ministry…to clarify and affirm their call to ministry and to introduce them to ministry as a vocation.”

Students like Barnett are enrolled in the MGP class, Introduction to Ministry, and are then assigned to internships that allow them to gain experience working in ministry-related fields.

Although the program is specifically meant for Christians interested in ministry to discern God’s calling on their lives, students from other faiths are welcome to explore the concepts presented in the class.

“I would have welcomed a non-christian [in my time as the director],” former director of the MGP, Dr. Jeter Basden said. “But I think students should think about ‘who God is and how do I relate?’ first.”

Barnett, who interned with a hospice program called Compassus to gain more insight into chaplaincy, said that she learned a lot from her time in the class and her internship.

“You get to learn everything and anything about the way church runs, the way the church can be focused and even what the church is,” Barnett said. “The class was designed for an open discussion between people and to see that the church doesn’t just stop at the building.”

Whether it’s an internship with a local church or nonprofit, Basden said that the program not only helps students with finding vocational direction, but also in building their faith.

“The clarification can go both ways: either yes or no,” Basden said. “But whether or not something is their calling does not change one’s Christian commitment to salvation and service.”

For Lubbock, TX senior Dana Curtis, enrollment in the MGP was a requirement for a scholarship she received, but Basden’s statement still rings true.

“I feel as though I got out of [the class] way more than I was expecting,” Curtis said. “The class challenged me to have scriptures and reasons why we believe what we believe. It also taught me how to communicate well with people that I don’t necessarily agree with.”

Current director of the MGP and participant in the program during his own undergraduate years, Dr. Dennis Horton, said that he enjoys seeing students realize new things about ministry

“I think God shows us how we are gifted and confirms our calling when students are actually involved in whatever ministry that is,” Horton said. “It helps define and clarify that calling even if it’s not an internship.”

“I got to do everything,” Horton said. “I was able to teach in about every Sunday school class, I preached messages, I helped with a funeral, hospital visits, and anything else just to learn how to do pastoral ministry.”

In addition to the knowledge and experience that students can gain from MGP, Curtis said that one of the best parts of the program is the relationships that are established between classmates, supervisors and, most of all, the professors.

“Having Baylor professors that are there to love and support you through something that the Lord has called you -which for me is ministry- was just so incredible,” Curtis said. “Not only did I have faculty that supported my faith, but I also have a university that offered me a course that strengthened it.”

For Horton, the support system provided by the Introduction to Ministry class goes both ways.

“I’ve got the absolute best job in the world because I get to work with a generation of students who have their hearts in the right place and they are out there serving,” Horton said. “I have great hope for the future just because of the students I work with.”