Two North Caribbean Conference district pastors, who supervise interns, were among more than 40 intern supervisors at a training hosted by the Caribbean Union Conference in January, 2020. In addition to pastoral supervisors, attendees included ministerial secretaries, church administrators and theologians from the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC). The three-day event was replete with presentations, networking opportunities and activities aimed at strengthening the foundation of ministry in local churches.
“The importance of internship in pastoral ministry cannot be overstated. While important in other vocations, internship in pastoral ministry is generally agreed upon to be one of the most important periods in the life, calling and professional matriculation of the minister,” stated Pastor Anthony Kent, a guest facilitator from the General Conference Ministerial Association. “Internship places young pastors in real-life work situations with real-life co-workers, performing actual professional tasks. It also helps to establish healthy ministerial worldviews, [it] creates a place to learn, grow and make mistakes with proximate feedback, and can be a real springboard toward excellence.”
“The training came at a time when the greatest need of the church in the Caribbean Union is ministers who share the passion for being true shepherds,” observed the President of the Caribbean Union Conference, Dr. Kern Tobias. Sharing from his personal experience, Dr. Tobias credited the success of his ministry journey to his senior pastoral supervisors, Pastor Newton King, Pastor Clyde Thomas and Pastor Wynall Kerr. He underscored the need for senior pastors to skillfully and patiently mentor and train the next generation of pastors, “I was not the best there was but my senior pastors took on the task of molding and nurturing me. They saw the potential.”
During daily devotional segments, the Executive Secretary of the Caribbean Union Conference, Pastor Johnson Frederick, emphasized the timeliness of the training and reminded participants that intern supervisors must spend quality time training and mentoring the young ones for the value of ministry to be enhanced throughout the Caribbean Union. He used the example of 2 Timothy 1: 2 to illustrate the bond needed between the intern and the supervisor. Pastor Frederick elaborated on the need for ministers to be ethical and suggested that a recommendation to ministry must come from the “home church” as “home church folk” are a credible source of reference.
Pastor Anthony Kent reflected on examples of failed ministerial internships and added, “If every senior pastor assists in training interns the way they should be trained, the Church in the Caribbean Union would grow stronger. There’s a great challenge to have every intern become a disciple of his senior pastor in order to transform ministry in the Caribbean. Great ministers don’t just happen. To equip and train ministerial interns, senior pastors should meet with them at least once a week. The senior pastor’s responsible attitude and passion for pastoral ministry will encourage young pastors. God calls senior pastors to model whatever an intern needs. The senior pastor should set examples in dynamic preaching and nurturing sermons; in visitation and Bible studies; and, must openly share their “secrets” with their interns. An intern must be taught to develop a caring spirit toward each congregation, loyalty to the church organization, [and a] commitment to weekly pastoral visitation. Whatever their special talents, senior pastors have a responsibility to model the essentials of pastoring and to reflect on these with their associates.”
With the byline [Toward] Successful Internship Supervision, the training event focused on imparting the competencies for pastoral supervisors to successfully train interns. The Ministerial Secretary of the Caribbean Union Conference, Pastor Ammaran Williams, noted, “It’s about changing the paradigm of ministry in the Caribbean Union. This is God’s will for the church and I thank God that this time has come.”
Pastor Thomas Rose is one of three pastoral supervisors in the North Caribbean Conference and serves the Central SDA Church on St. Croix. He shared how the training benefitted him, “The training has helped me to be more intentional about shepherding the young pastor and improving his ministerial talents.” Pastor Sylvester Williams, another pastoral supervisor in the North Caribbean Conference who serves on Tortola, also noted, “This is a need for me and for all of us. It has come at the right time.”
Dr. Mark Brathwaite, Ministerial Secretary for the South Leeward Conference, indicated, “The training program allows for more integral work with interns. It highlights the role of the senior pastor as the right arm of the intern. And training and mentoring interns [are] important in the pastoral leadership of the church.”
Dr. Fazudin Hosein, Dean in the School of Theology at the University of the Southern Caribbean, discussed the content of the curriculum and plans to strengthen the quality of ministry around the Caribbean Union. Speaking from the perspective of an administrator, Pastor Leslie Moses, President of the South Caribbean Conference, outlined the qualities desired in ministers being sought to serve in churches. Supervisors and church leaders left the training event resolved to improve the quality of ministry in the Caribbean Union.