Meet Our Intern, Chip Roughton

Although I attended a pretty well respected Divinity School, there is no question in my mind that the most valuable preparation I received for ministry was my work as a field education student. Thanks to the various churches who welcomed me into their ranks as a “ministerial intern,” I was given the opportunity to lead small groups, attend council meetings, shadow my future colleagues, and try my hand at preaching and pastoral care; all under the watchful eye of a seasoned pastor. The congregations who opened their hearts to me allowed me to try my best and were always at the ready with helpful feedback whether my efforts met with success or failure. I would not be the pastor I am today were it not for all those people – both lay and ordained - who were willing to guide me as I practiced my call to ministry. 

Such churches are special places, communities deeply engaged in preparing the next generation of spiritual leaders, and I am pleased to let you know that we are about to join their ranks. Chip Roughton is in his final year at Yale Divinity School and he will be coming on staff as our ministerial intern for the academic year. As you’ll see from his introduction below, Chip brings strong gifts, a wealth of experience, and a true desire to be of use to us as he continues to discern his call to ministry. I have no doubt he’ll be a blessing to our church.  What I think will surprise and amaze you all is how blessed you will be by this experience, whether you are joining Chip for a small group study, letting him know what you thought of his sermon over coffee in the fellowship hall, or just showing him how things get done around a parish. 

I’m looking forward to working with Chip as his mentor and trust that his experience with First Church of Hadley will be beneficial for us all. 

Pastor Sarah

And now, without further ado, here’s a letter of introduction from Chip himself. 

Hello, dear people.  My name’s Chip and I’ll be your student intern for the next nine months.  That sounds like I’m your waiter:  “Can I start you off with an appetizer?”  I guess in a way I will be your waiter as I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be bringing to your table, er—church.  I suppose it depends on what you’d like to order.  Ok, I’ll drop the simile but there is some truth in it.  This is something of an experiment both for me and I think for your church.  I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also a little nervous.  I hope to grow and learn through this experience, which for me means stretching, trying new things and sometimes falling flat on my face.  But I also want to serve you in ways that are useful to both the congregation and your pastor.  It’s going to be a little like a dance.  A dance with your waiter.  Ok, I’m sorry.  No more waiter talk.

So here’s a little about me.  I am 46, married to the most excellent woman I know, and getting my Masters of Divinity at some fancy school down in Connecticut.  Before school, I spent 20 years working in documentary television as a writer and producer.  I never imagined, even in my most disturbing nightmares, that I’d be working in a church someday, let alone going into “fulltime ministry.”  (But I guess any of us who are attempting to follow Christ are in fulltime ministry, whether we think of it that way or not.  And even if Christ is not your man, you’re in fulltime ministry of some sort by virtue of walking around and having thoughts and ideas that you inevitably spread to those around you.  We’re each of us philosophers and theologians with a mission.  But I digress.)

I interned as a chaplain at Mt. Holyoke College last year and I’m at Baystate Medical this summer.  I’m not sure where I’ll end up once I’m done with school but I guess that’s half the fun, not knowing what’s next.  I’ve said since the beginning of this bizarre left turn that if I have a ministry in life, it’s in helping expand people’s notion of who God is—particularly those who, like me, may have been given a dangerous and damaging image of God in childhood.  This may come out in my work with your church, we shall see.  For now, please know that I come to you ready to learn and serve.  And to show you the dessert menu when you’re ready.  I’m looking forward to it.