Last week I had the joy of participating in the final graduate program of a former music intern. Michael Devine sang in the Chancel Choir as an undergraduate student at Wheaton, where he was a vocal performance major studying with College Church member Jerry Sundberg. Michael served for a time with another church in the Chicago area, and then entered the Master of Sacred Music program at Luther Seminary (St. Paul) and St. Olaf College (Northfield) in Minnesota. Michael’s capstone project was a “recital” of sorts: a fully formed service of worship with hymns, anthems, scripture, prayers, and ministry of the Word. Michael conceived the program, wrote the reflections on the Scripture, led in some of the prayers, conducted the choir and instruments, and led the congregation in song. It was much more than a “recital,” and would have been a well-received service of worship here at College Church.
We see our interns move into places of service and influence, and rejoice in how God continues to shape them. College Church shapes them, and also learns from them. Then they go on to be shaped in, and to shape others in new contexts. It was fun to talk with some of the faculty in Michael’s program, and to hear how his Word-centeredness worked its way out in this context – which admittedly is not the usual academic route from Wheaton College and College Church.
And his two years there have paved the way for another College Church intern. Andy Bruhn is also a Wheaton graduate, who approached me last summer to ask about church music. It seemed that his interest, our music ministry’s needs, and the context of this church were the perfect combination for an internship. Andy began in September, and we have seen his work with Hyacks (working both with brass players and singers) and will see it again at the end of the choir season, in a festive communion service on June 3. Andy and Lydia have also been very involved in our brass ensemble, and he was on the planning and conducting team for an extraordinary concert here of brass and organ music.
Andy will also pursue graduate work in theology and music. He is following Michaels’ path to the Twin Cities, to spend the next two years at Luther/St. Olaf. This is an interesting and unexpected route. It is also a great opportunity for our interns to exercise their gospel commitments in a church context where the gospel can often be unclear. Their musical skills provide an excellent entre into a setting where their biblical commitments and faithfulness will be evident and influential among their peers. Just as with women and men in the workplace – often it is the excellence of the Christian worker that provides the best hearing for the gospel.
The training ground of a College Church internship prepares for advanced study, hard work, and influence in unexpected places.