Internships aim to bring leaders of color into church


Young leaders of color will be working with the Oregon-Idaho Conference this summer to develop leadership skills while exploring the intersection of faith and social justice.

The nine young leaders and two mentors are working with Leroy Barber, director for congregational vitality for the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Innovation and Vitality Team, over the next seven weeks to develop their leadership skills while working with United Methodist Churches to deepen their understanding of the role the church can play in social justice.

“We want to create opportunities for new leaders to be part of the United Methodist Church,” said Barber. “Where the United Methodist Church meets young people is in a place of justice.”

The new internship program is being paid for through non-apportioned congregational development funds.

The students are coming from places like Portland State University, Multnomah University, George Fox University and a couple of colleges in California. The students come from different backgrounds. Some are attending Christian universities while others have had very little exposure to Christian faith, Barber said.

“Many young people are skeptical of us as a denomination,” Barber said.

Coordinators are: Beatrix Li and Sara Barger. Interns are: Romare Ashford, Brian Preap, Jeanette Barton, Charly Martinez, David Pascual-Matias, Ivan Avalos, Carolina Nunez, Rachel Leong, Elsa Govea.

The students will spend one day a week in the Oregon-Idaho Conference office learning about the United Methodist Church and then will be out in the community, based at various churches, doing social justice work with local mentors.

“I want to learn how to empower my voice without lowering others,” Govea said.

Preap, a junior at George Fox University, is looking forward to the experience of being in community with diverse individuals like him.

“I really wanted to get the chance to work with other students of color,” he said.