Duke interns learn many ministry roles


Special to the Advocate

For a second consecutive summer, selected students from Duke Divinity School participated in 10-week field education placements in the Mississippi Annual Conference. 

Serving in various venues, the students were exposed to Hurricane Katrina relief ministries, poverty issues and the role of local churches and church agencies in both faith communities and the larger surrounding community. 

Ashley Lloyd, the Warren Pittman Fellow for summer 2006, a native of Texas, served in Jackson at both Bethlehem Center, directed by Rev. Allison Carr Dickerson, and Epworth UMC, pastored by Rev. Jim Biedenharn. Bethlehem Center is located on North Blair Street among vacant lots and abandoned houses, but it is not decay that defines Bethlehem Center

In contrast to her work among African-American children at Bethlehem Center, Lloyd’s time with Epworth UMC was spent primarily among white, elderly parishoners. She said she was struck by one mutual hurt of both the elderly homebound and the young of the inner city — the reality and/or fear of neglect. It was in the struggles of living among this diverse group of folk and the examples of the Revs. Dickerson and Beidenharn that Lloyd says she will always remember to love. 

Tim Catlett of Morrisville, N.C., lived and worked in D’Iberville where he was guided by the Rev. David Cumbest and the people of Heritage UMC.  

“I was given the opportunity to see how the church can step into chaos and provide hope and love to a devastated community,” Catlett said. 

Teresa Cook of Creedmoor, N.C., described Court Street UMC in Hattiesburg as “huge in love and compassion for people in need. God uses this church to destroy the historical racial prejudice reputation of Mississippi.”

 Cook, under the supervision of the Rev. Bruce Case, was immersed in the life and practice of pastoral ministry. 

Cook said, “This church taught me lifetime lessons. They showed me how to persevere through all obstacles. I saw racial reconciliation …social justice in action. Truly Court Street is a living witness to Mississippi of how God’s kingdom should look.” 

Rey Mondragon, a native of Mexico, under the direction of the Rev. Chris Cumbest, spent the summer engaging persons of Latino/Hispanic origins who have come to the Gulf Coast in search of jobs in the aftermath of Katrina. 

Terence Hagans II of San Diego represented Duke Divinity Schools’s Center for Reconciliation and its Teaching Communities Initiative. Hagans lived in Jackson in the Voice of Calvary Community and served both the Voice of Calvary Church and the John Perkins Foundation. These ministries are centered in the heart of Jackson and utilize the former Capitol Street UMC building.