BOISE, ID. – Jessica Ice, a young seminary student at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California, said she is finding confidence to get beyond her timid personality and insecurities as she practices her leadership skills through Mennonite Central Committee U.S.’s Summer Service Program.
Through the 10-week leadership development program for people of color, Ice is serving as a pastoral intern at her home congregation, Hyde Park Mennonite Church, Boise, Idaho. She is mentored by her pastor, Marc Schlegel-Preheim
“I feel grateful to Hyde Park Mennonite for the ways they have empowered me to grow in my gifts by giving me opportunities to lead,” explains Ice. “I am preaching on a rotation, leading in worship, working with the youth, participating in business meetings and planning various community events”.
MCC photo/Jessica Ice
She is also serving weekly at a local homeless shelter, Corpus Cristi House. It is a hospitality day center for the homeless community that provides a comfortable place to sit and visit while providing necessities for maintaining personal dignity.
Ice is one of 27 young adults, ages 18-30, who are serving in 10 U.S. states this year through MCC’s Summer Service program. Participants serve their local communities, usually their own church or local organizations, to gain valuable leadership skills while working to give back to their communities.
Shankar Rai, MCC U.S. coordinator for Summer Service, said, “Summer Service creates opportunities for young adults of color to see the leadership capabilities that lie within them. Young adults learn to appreciate the value in the resources, wisdom and strengths of their own churches and communities.”
Summer Service workers serve in a variety of roles. Some are pastoral interns or youth leaders. Others work in urban gardens, help immigrants at the border or with community development projects to make a difference in their communities.
Jessica says that one of the hardest things she needed to learn was “to be completely myself and working to dismantle my preconceived beliefs of what a leader should be and look like,” instead of being a leader that has it all together. “Sometimes it feels like there is this unspoken pressure to have it all together,” explains Ice. “to know all the answers and have a take-charge or commanding personality, which I certainly do not.”
She is understanding that her vulnerability is a form of strength in her leadership development.
“This summer upon returning to Boise after a year of school, I feel much more confident in my identity in Christ and who God has made me to be as a woman, a person of color and a leader in the church.”
For more information about how your congregation or organization can partner with MCC’s Summer Service program, visit mcc.org/summerservice.