The DCE interns return to Concordia each year to share their experience with current DCE/CEL students.
Photo Courtesy of Tim Rippstein
by Aidan Moon
The final step of a Director of Christian Education’s (DCE) journey at Concordia is to complete a year long internship serving in a church. The latest crop of interns returned to campus early this week for the annual mid-year conference to process their internships so far, taking time to discuss their experiences with colleagues and professors.
The DCE intern mid-year gathering started unofficially Sunday, January 28 with a gathering at program director Mark Blanke’s house. Monday morning they began their official conference time, primarily made up of discussions about their internship up to this point, especially the mistakes they have made and how to improve moving forward.
“It’s important to remember that this is a learning experience and we’re not perfect and we make mistakes, but we learn from those mistakes and learning how to overcome them is just as important,” intern, Spencer Owen said. Owen is currently serving at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School in North Miami, FL.
Fellow intern Michael Winckler similarly said that his greatest takeaway was humility that comes from working in real hands on ministry and making mistakes.
One of the primary purposes of the half week conference is to provide the interns with some affirmation that what they are doing is serving a purpose and process how to learn from the mistakes they make.
“Many of [the interns] come back kind of overwhelmed, not sure they’re hitting the groove, and it’s encouraging for them to see that there are a lot of things they wrestle with that their peers are wrestling with and process some of that.” Dr. Tim Rippstein said. Rippstein is the primary supervisor for the interns.
The second aspect of the mid-year conference was simply to prepare the interns for life after they are completely out on their own. They discussed topics such as taxes and the call process, giving them, as said by intern Winckler, “a healthy dose of reality”.
The DCE program highly emphasizes not simply preparing students to work in the Church, but also helping them deal with some of the real life issues that come with adulthood.
The interns also led a seminar on Tuesday night for the majority of students in the DCE and CEL programs, beginning with a meal and culminating with several sessions led by the interns themselves. These topics ranged from conflict management to married life as a DCE, as each intern offered perspectives based on their experiences in ministry across the United States.
This, according to Rippstein, is his favorite part of the mid-year gathering.
“I really appreciate having students in classroom for four years and watching them move into college and then make the transition into adulthood,” Rippstein said. “They come back and they lead the underclassmen in workshops, and they really step up into that adult professional role… I’m very proud of how students mature.”
Winckler reflected on his biggest takeaway from his first six months of ministry, offering words to all Concordia students, whether they are going into church work or not.
“Your relationship with Jesus Christ is your ministry, and anything you think you know beyond that won’t be as beneficial as simply sitting down and having intimate time with him.”