The Presbyterian Chuch (U.S.A.)'s Office of Public Witness (OPW) here is seeking financial support to "reinvigorate" its internship program, which trains Presbyterian young adults for prophetic witness and public policy advocacy work.

To illustrate the benefits of the internship program, the OPW recently interviewed Natalie "Nan" Arnold, who served with the program from September 2009-June 2010 while a student at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. She is now a director of youth ministry for a PC(USA) congregation in Maryland.

"The Office of Public Witness advocates for approved General Assembly policy that has both domestic and international implications," says the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, OPW’s director. "We work in an ecumenical and interfaith environment for the purpose of collaborating and sharing resources for more effective justice advocacy."

The OPW does its advocacy work among members of the United States Congress, the Administration, and within the PC(USA).

“We believe that advocates for public witness must be trained in order for the church to fulfill her biblical role as a prophetic voice, 'speaking truth to power,'" Nelson says.  "Therefore, we have reinvigorated an internship program in our office, in order to call young adults into this justice ministry."

Contributions to the internship program will assist interns with expenses related to living in the nation's capital while assuring the OPW that it can develop a strong pool of applicants from which to choose.

"Many of these interns will be led to discern a call to serve Jesus Christ in various ways through this ministry," says Nelson, citing Arnold as a prime example. "Our program is designed to provide experiential learning with opportunities for theological reflection and guidance."

To contribute to the OPW internship program, click here.

Donations can also be sent by mail to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. Designate the Office of Public Witness Internship, ECO # 051422.

The full text of the interview with Nan Arnold:

Q: What motivated you to apply for an internship in the Presbyterian Church Office of Public Witness?

A: I was searching for an internship that would help me discern my call within the church. I have felt a strong call toward ministry and sought a program centered on how the church uses its voice for those who are unheard in society. I wanted an internship with deep roots in social justice and faith. 

Q: Did you receive support from your home congregation or presbytery in seeking and fulfilling your internship?

A: Yes, the executive presbyter offered to write a letter of recommendation. I was born into and raised by my home congregation and they gladly offered prayers, encouragement, and even monetary support.

Q: What was your assignment in the office?

A. I had a variety of assignments. I assisted with events that the office hosted, participated in coalition meetings, wrote articles for the Washington Report, and helped develop relationships with church groups and youth.

Q: How did you relate to Ecumenical Advocacy Days and what advantages did you gain from being involved with EAD?

A: I worked on the office's display booth and with Presbyterian events at EAD and helped to develop events encouraging young adult participation. Through EAD I deepened relationships with people in the church and gained more knowledge and information about issues I am very passionate about.

Q. How did your internship help to prepare you for your future vocational choices/opportunities?

A: Working in the office helped me discern my call and provided me with many opportunities to meet people in the church. 

Q: What advice would you give to someone applying for an internship?

A: Take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities given to you and to absorb as much information and wisdom you can from this office. The staff are wonderful assets to the church so be sure to listen and glean as much as possible from them.

Q: What background/interests/characteristics would help someone have a successful and productive internship?

A: They would need an interest in learning about the PC(USA)'s role in public witness, a desire to see how the church intersects with the major issues of society, an interest in social justice issues, and a desire to be a part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s national work. 

To contribute to the OPW internship program, click here.

For more information about the OPW internship program, contact the Office of Public Witness by phone at (202) 543-1126 or by email.