Around 30 ministerial interns from across Australia recently gathered at the Adventist Alpine Village (Jindabyne, NSW) for the 2017 AUC Interns Camp.
Hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia (AUC), the camp is held every two years for Ministry & Theology graduates who have been called to serve in pastoral roles in either a church (minister) or school (chaplain).
“Interns Camp is a vital part of our plan to equip, empower and support our new ministers,” said AUC ministerial secretary Pastor Brendan Pratt, who organised the 5-day camp. “It is a time for our interns to be spiritually refreshed while also being resourced for a lifetime of pastoral ministry. We address the challenges and celebrate the joys of ministry in a prayerful, supportive, encouraging environment.”
“The AUC pays significant attention to interns because they represent the early years of the life of a pastor,” added AUC president Pastor Jorge Muñoz. “These years are vital for the development of a pastor.”
Presenters for the camp included Pastor Nataniel Pereira, Pastor Neil Thompson and Pastor Russell Willcocks, ministerial secretaries for the Greater Sydney, North New South Wales and South Queensland Conferences; Pastor Mike Faber, president of the South New South Wales Conference; and Pastor Jorge Muñoz, president of the AUC. Spouses of interns were also encouraged to attend the camp, and special sessions were held for these Partners in Ministry by Amanda Bews, wife of Pastor Brendan Pratt, and Doris Faber, wife of Pastor Mike Faber.
As well as daily presentations and panel discussions, the interns were kept active with a 20km bike ride on one afternoon and an 8km walk on Sabbath afternoon. Worship and fellowship were also key highlights of the week, with the Alpine Village providing great food and an atmosphere to relax from the pressures of pastoral life.
“Interns Camp presented an incredible opportunity to sit with the leaders of our church and glean wisdom and encouragement to go back home and shine brighter than before,” said Annalise Lindsay, an intern from the South Queensland Conference. “It was amazing to take a break from our laptops and to-do lists, and spend some time with God and colleagues in prayer and learning.
“I loved it, and wish I could go back next year!”
But it wasn’t just interns that received a blessing from the week. As the Adventist Alpine Village plays host to several external campers, mostly grey nomads, a few curious campers came up to the meeting area to see what was happening. Peter and Glenda, an older couple who work for Gideons International distributing Bibles in western NSW, were one such couple.
“Peter and Glenda joined in most of our programmes, including the Q&A session, though I warned them would include lots of in-house discussion,” said Pastor Pratt. “But they loved our group and felt very ministered to by the interns!”
Peter and Glenda both commented on how amazed they were that the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia would sit and take questions from first year pastors and would engage in open, thoughtful, passionate, respectful, and good-natured discussion with them. They also appreciated the fact that many of the interns made time to pray with them.
“God put your camp here for us,” said Peter. “I’ve been connected with lots of Christian groups but never a group with the passion and enthusiasm of these young ministers—they have really blessed us.”
“I’ll tell you something—the Adventist Church in Australia has a very exciting future with this bunch of pastors.”