Defrosting 150 icy hot dog buns was the first task assigned to Huntington University senior Kristi Wieckert on her PRIME experience at Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Ind.
A kickoff cookout was first event of the summer for Access, a young adult ministry, when Wieckert, a youth ministries major, was to make her debut as the new intern working specifically with young adults that had just graduated high school.
“I had just moved in with my host family, and I didn’t even know how to run the oven,” said Wieckert of Indianapolis, Ind. “But I had to figure out a way to defrost all the buns before everything started.”
Wieckert was successful at the thawing mission and continued the summer working with the freshly graduated students, helping them prepare for their upcoming freshman year of college.
“They stole my heart,” she said. “It was really cool how excited they were and how we just clicked.”
Now that the school year has started, Wieckert continues her work as an intern for Access, a program designed specifically for young adults 18 to 24 years old.
She is one of two interns that help lead the Access ministry during the school year, under the direction of her mentor, David Bell.
The young adult ministry consists of meetings on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Eighty students in the summer and 20 during the school year gather once a week for a meeting consisting of a message, praise music, games and fellowship.
Beyond that Wieckert fills 40 hours a week with other branches of the Access ministry, including making intentional connections with college students. Wieckert and the other leaders demonstrate their support through birthday recognitions, phone calls, Facebook correspondence, care packages in time for finals and campus visits.
Another aspect of Wieckert’s internship is focusing on the local Access members by scheduling one-on-one meetings, coffee dates, movie nights and other relationship-building activities.
She also is required to give a total of three messages during her internship as well as taking classes at Grace Community taught by some of the staff. The classes are informal with no grades or credit, but they are intended for learning and growing.
One particular class she is currently enrolled in challenges her to focus on her personality type.
“I have realized that I am a decent extrovert,” she said. “But I need to make sure I take time alone for myself so that I can recharge and sustain a good rhythm.”
Another challenge Wieckert, who grew up in conservative United Brethren tradition, faces is the tension that comes with working at a postmodern church.
“I’m just trying to figure out the gray areas and where I fall within them,” Wieckert said. “It compels me to have conversations with God and with my mentor about why I believe what I do.”
Her mentor, David Bell, has allowed Wieckert to create and take ownership of her ideas and is helping her flesh them out, including a canoe trip she and a fellow intern planned for Access in the summer.
Wieckert and more experiences in store, but for now she says she feels well-suited and challenged by her prime experience. She is open to the idea of eventually pursuing a career as a resident director at a university or continuing to work for campus ministries.
“I love college ministry,” she said. “God has just designed my heart for this.”