Lydia Patterson Institute Interns Serving Churches in Fort Smith and Texarkana

Three Lydia Patterson Institute (LPI) interns are working in Arkansas congregations this summer thanks to $1,500 grants to support each internship from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. The interns are students or recent graduates of the college preparatory school in El Paso, Texas, supported by our South Central Jurisdiction.  “Without the support of United Methodist congregations, the students who are flourishing there would be on the streets in Mexico,” said LPI Director of Development Richard Hearne. “The LPI student interns are experiencing exactly what living in the U.S is about. When they leave Arkansas at the end of the summer they will not be the same, nor will the churches they are serving.”

Peter Hernandez has been busy this summer teaching Sunday School class, leading youth ministry games, attending mission camps, helping the church staff with the building renovation tasks, and serving as a “big brother” to youth is in his second year as a summer intern at First UMC, Fort Smith.  “It’s been a very positive learning experience for our congregation to get to know Peter and be in ministry with him,” said Rev. Dane Womack, Associate Pastor at First UMC, Fort Smith.  “Peter is a bit of a rascal, and as his supervisor, one of my goals is to come alongside him and nurture holistic growth,” said Michael Mings, the church’s Youth Minister.  “We are very supportive of Peter’s dreams to be a physicist and we pray that his time at our church would help him to discern how God would use him in that way to be in ministry to the world.”

Rev. Jaimie Alexander, Senior Pastor at First UMC, Texarkana, said their congregation is hosting two LPI interns, Santiago Tarin and Raquel Escalero-Alvarez. These interns are assisting with Vacation Bible School, the church music department, children’s ministry, and a ministry serving foster children’s clothing needs. “Santiago went with our youth on a float trip to the Buffalo River at the beginning of the summer and that helped him make connections. Raquel participated in an Ozark Mission Project camp hosted by our church by building a back porch and front porch for one of the neighbors,” he said. “So many people here don’t know about the Lydia Patterson Institute and these students are helping bridge that gap.”  Santiago hopes to study psychology at Hendrix College and then attend a seminary before becoming a pastor. “I’m interested in the ministry and being here in Texarkana has helped me learn how the church works, see the life of a pastor, and improve my English,” he said.

“Lydia Patterson Institute is an important jurisdictional ministry,” said Rev. Mackey Yokem, UMFA Grants Administrator. “The internships help Arkansas congregations get to know how Christian faith, values, and knowledge converge at the school to give students from Mexico an excellent educational experience.”  In addition to grants for LPI interns, UMFA has made a commitment to the Arkansas Conference to match LPI donations up to $250,000 over three years ending in 2019. Several members of local churches in the conference have taken trips to the school in the past two years to learn more about its mission.

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas manages $165 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and United Methodist ministries. UMFA is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the country. Founded in 1963, the Foundation is responsible for over 800 funds that support United Methodist ministries.