When The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson took the reins as director at the Washington-based Office of Public Witness in May, he made clear the importance of involving young adults in the work of the Washington-based office.

Now, with a revived internship program, OPW is taking a step to provide work and guidance for those seeking “experience and vocational discernment in the church and in the public square,” according to the internship posting.

“It stems from (Nelson’s) commitment to young people and providing opportunities for education and discernment and also developing a network of folks who know and love this office,” said Leslie Woods, OPW’s representative for domestic poverty and environmental issues.

Although the office has had interns before, Woods said she didn’t know of a formal internship program.

According to the position description, interns will be assigned a public policy issue to follow through the political and decision-making process. This task might include compiling news reports, communicating General Assembly positions to Congress, attending hearings and producing resources. Other tasks will include outreach, communication or event planning.

The internship is not only an opportunity for interns to learn more about the role of the church in the public square — it’s also a chance for OPW to gain short-term ministry partners and long-term friends.

While Woods said she would like to see the office “bustling with interns,” the actual number selected will depend on funding. The position(s) will be unpaid. OPW hopes to form partnerships with area churches, universities and seminaries. Depending on how those relationships pan out, the office might be able to offer a stipend.

“The hope is to have really robust partnerships,” Woods said.

Because the internship won’t come with benefits or a salary, Woods said she expects more young adults to apply. But she stressed that the internships come with no age requirements. The internship is open to all motivated, collaborative, independent applicants, regardless of age or background. Applicants don’t have to be Presbyterian.

“It’s a great opportunity for folks to be given a lot of responsibility and grow into it and grow with it,” Woods said.

OPW hopes to bring on at least one intern in the winter or spring of 2011. While there is no set length for an internship, interns should expect to stay for at least eight weeks.

To read a full position description and application instructions, click here.