LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lauren Kennedy and Savannah Eby were out of their comfort zones, but not any more.
Within the first two weeks of starting internships at Harvest United Methodist Church in Lakewood Ranch, the girls feel at ease in their new roles and both are grappling with the idea of going into fulltime ministry — a career path neither had considered.
Kennedy, who grew up in Lakewood Ranch and now is an upcoming junior at Auburn University, is Harvest’s youth-ministry intern.
“I was looking at being a camp counselor (for the summer), but because I have to take summer school (it didn’t work out),” Kennedy said.
She applied for the internship at Harvest, after speaking with the Rev. Steve Price, whom she’s known most of her life because he coached her as a child in soccer. Having worked at the YMCA with children 8 years old and younger, she was nervous about working with older children.
“(I realize now) I really have a passion for this age,” Kennedy said. “It surprised me a lot. It’s been so comfortable. It’s cool this door opened.
“The kids here are so receptive,” she said. “I feel like I’ve gotten more out of it. High school and middle school is hard; I realize that. It’s cool to share with them my experience and help and guide (them).”
Kennedy said she’s excited about taking youth on several upcoming mission trips, including one to Gainesville this weekend, and another June 24 through June 29, to Vero Beach.
“My goal for myself this summer is to be really intentional with the kids and be able to help guide them,” Kennedy said “I’m really excited.”
Eby, an Orlando native who is staying with Lisel and Jerry Ogle, of River Club, for the summer, is hard at work learning the ins-and-outs of children’s ministry. The role, she said, is familiar, because her mother is the children’s ministry director at her home church. And, the experience is showing her, despite her longtime efforts to find an occupation other than her mother’s, that children’s ministry is something she loves.
Typically, she helps with administrative tasks and helps prepare lessons for Sunday School and other activities. And this week, she’s helping facilitate Harvest’s Vacation Bible School event. Working with the children, she says, is her favorite part of the job.
Eby, a self-described introvert, said she also is learning about people.
“Professionally, I have always been in my comfort zone and worked for people I know,” she said. “I think (this internship) has really helped me grow.
“My goal would be to experience new things and learn as much as possible,” she said. “I’ve gone to the same church my whole life.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
College: Florida Southern College
Considering a career in: Elementary education
Hobbies and interests: Horseback riding and going to the beach
Favorite movie: “Tangled”
Hometown: Lakewood Ranch
College: Auburn University
Considering a career in: Speech pathology
Hobbies and interests: Basketball, other sports and being outdoors; spending time with family
Favorite movie: “Happy Feet” and “Love and Basketball”