The Office of Public Witness believes that formation of servant leaders and advocates is vital to the public policy ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Internship for Public Witness seeks to provide substantive, formative work and guidance for persons seeking experiential learning and vocational discernment in the church and in the public square.
Interns will receive a broad experience of the ministry of Public Witness and will explore the connections among their own faith journey, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s social justice teachings and political and social realities in the United States today.
A justice model for service learning
Washington, D.C., is a town that runs on unpaid labor. People from all over the country flock to our nation’s capital in search of knowledge and experience. And while the goals are lofty, the practice falls far short of the mark, as many are pulled into unpaid junior staff positions (not experiential learning situations) where they have great responsibility and no power.
In the Office of Public Witness, we seek to challenge the dominant paradigm of internship as source of labor. In offering Internships and Fellowship in this office, we are not seeking a source of “cheap labor,” or even an extra pair of hands, but rather we are working to provide real opportunities for experiential learning, growth, and discernment. Our interns and fellows are empowered with responsibility for ministry in this office, and are supported by our staff with the resources they need to accomplish their goals. Our interns experience both responsibility and power.
We believe we are partners with our interns in their learning experiences. We seek to leave doors open, providing a wide array of experiences, responsibilities, and opportunities for discernment and growth, so that when interns and fellows leave the Office of Public Witness, they can truly say, “I have learned something new, I have gained new skills, I have continued to discern God’s call for my life.” We give thanks to God for the tremendous joy and responsibility that comes with the opportunity to guide and teach interns and fellows. The gift of working with them enriches our experience of ministry.
Internship for Public Witness
The Internship for Public Witness takes place during the academic year, September to May. We do not assume that all participants will be students, but we do assume that interns will serve with us part-time because they will have other responsibilities, such as class or job. Interns may serve during the fall, during the spring or for the full academic year, but for no less than 12 weeks.
Interns who participate in this program may be seeking academic credit for their experience and we are pleased to work with field education and internship offices to comply with reasonable site and supervision requirements.
The Office of Public Witness already participates with some academic internship programs, including the American Studies Program of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (for undergraduates) and Wesley Theological Seminary’s Practice for Ministry and Mission Program (for Wesley Seminary students). Students at other institutions should feel free to contact us about the possibility of working with their institution’s experiential learning program.
Fellowship for Public Witness
The Fellowship for Public Witness takes place during the summer, June to August. Summer fellows will have a similar experience to interns serving for a longer period of time, but on a more compressed timeline. Summer Fellows usually serve at or near full-time hours for eight to 10 weeks during the summer.
Because we understand that most participants in this program will be coming from outside of D.C. for the summer fellowship experience, we strive to offer a modest housing stipend to fellows. Due to fundraising considerations, we reserve the right during a given summer not to offer housing stipends to any participants. Further, we will not offer such a stipend if the fellow is also participating with an institution-based or other kind of program that provides financial support during the summer fellowship placement.
The Office of Public Witness participates with a number of programs for summer theological experiential learning, including the Beatitudes Society, Vanderbilt Divinity School Field Education and Union Presbyterian Seminary (Richmond, Va.).
There is increased need for focused attention on domestic and international issues of justice and peace. The intern/fellow will be assigned a public policy issue or portfolio of issues to follow through the political and decision-making process. This may include compiling news reports and writing articles and/or blog posts for publication; communicating Presbyterian General Assembly positions to Members of Congress and their staff as well as representatives of the Executive Branch, attending congressional hearings, obtaining bill text and testimony, providing analysis of bills and legislative outlook, working in coalition with the faith community and producing issue-based resources accessible to a general audience.
In addition to an issue portfolio, the intern/fellow will also be invited into full participation in the life of the Office of Public Witness, including regular staff meetings and preparation for and participation in OPW public events. She/he will also be assigned outreach, communications, and/or event planning tasks, which may include outreach to Presbyterians, web content monitoring, maintenance of the online action alert system, social media strategy, contributing to planning an event or workshop at our Annual Advocacy Training Weekend, which includes Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day and Ecumenical Advocacy Days, at the Presbyterian Big Tent, at our monthly Second Tuesday public briefings, or another special project. Other duties may also be assigned.
The Internship for Public Witness, which takes place during the academic year, is unpaid and does not include a stipend.
The Fellowship for Public Witness, which takes place during the summer, is also unpaid, but is accompanied by a modest housing stipend.
Candidates who participate in our Programs with the sponsorship of another organization, such asan educational institution’s field education office, will not receive the housing stipend if their sponsoring program also provides a stipend. Most of these programs require that sites not offer duplicate stipends to participants.
The Office of Public Witness is regularly fundraising for these programs. As funds become available, we hope to increase the financial support we can offer to interns/fellows. Likewise, in the unfortunate event that funds should not be available, the Office of Public Witness reserves the right to offer summer Fellowships for Public Witness with no housing stipend.
The Office of Public Witness is happy to collaborate with summer theological experiential learning programs, including those offered through Seminary and Theological School field education opportunities.
Who should apply?
Young adults (and the young in spirit) – all those with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for justice!
The Office of Public Witness invites diverse candidates to apply for its Internship and Fellowship programs. While we are aware that young adults who are currently students or who have recently graduated may be in a better position to participate in an unpaid internship, other adults are encouraged to apply.
Local pastors who are interested in spending their study leave or sabbatical time concentrating on a public policy project in the Office of Public Witness should consider our Visiting Associate Program.
Applicants must display a commitment to social justice and an interest in working for a more just community, in the United States and globally, strong written and verbal communications skills ,the ability to multi-task, meet deadlines, and work effectively as a member of a team, self-motivation, dependability, creativity, flexibility and problem-solving skills, good “people skills” to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, experience with standard office software, including Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and willingness to learn new software and computer skills.
From the Human Resources Department: All employment policies and practices, including recruiting, selection, benefits, compensation, performance appraisals, promotion, transfers, discipline, training and separation, will be administered without discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, creed, disability or religious affiliation (except where a category is determined to be a bona fide occupational qualification).
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) cannot assist with the attainment of visas for internship purposes.
The Office of Public Witness is excited to enter into partnership with educational institutions and local churches who wish to share in the responsibilities, as well as the joys and benefits, of working with a service learner.
Letter to colleges and universities
Letter to Seminaries and theological institutions
For local churches, we are in the process of developing a program proposal that will allow us to “share” an intern between the Office of Public Witness and the local church partner. Check back soon for more information about this developing program.
To apply, please submit application form, resume and cover letter by email to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness. Please note your name and “intern/fellow application” in the subject line.