Lilly Intern spotlight: Julianna & First Presbyterian, Prairie Grove

Lilly Intern Spotlight:  Julianna and First Presbyterian, Prairie Grove

(from e-newsletter*, more below)

Julianna Whitson is jumping in with both feet to her internship with First Presbyterian, Prairie Grove, and the congregation is welcoming her with open arms. Julianna is actively participating in the worship and fellowship of the congregation, with the focus of her learning this year being with Bible Study leadership. Reverend Becky Purcell is beginning her third year with the congregation and is excited about this opportunity. She is in the third of three years in which the congregation took a “leap of faith” to fund her ministry full-time. Both Julianna and Becky are looking forward to how they will learn and grow together this year. Their shared love of learning is setting a great foundation for the internship. The developing relationship between Julianna and First Presbyterian, Prairie Grove, holds the promise of great things to come this year.

More on Lilly Intern Spotlight:


  • For Julianna, a highlight from her very first day was when a little girl in the Prairie Grove congregation prayed for her. Julianna loves how the congregation has been very welcoming and really appreciates the way Becky incorporates a conversational style to her sermons, walking out into the congregation and engaging people in answering questions.  Julianna also appreciates how the congregation is so open to trying new things.
  • For Becky, she loves how Julianna does not let Becky take herself too seriously. Becky was in her robe, preparing for worship, on the first Sunday with Julianna and thinks she may have looked a little too serious because Julianna pointed to her torso and when Becky looked down, she “booped” Becky’s nose with her finger.  On another Sunday, Becky was in the midst of pledging to get the congregation out by a certain time for the pot-luck and, as she paused in her train of thought, Julianna did a drum roll for Becky.  Becky really loves how Julianna brings this fun-loving nature to the church.

Welcoming this opportunity:

  • Julianna entered this internship year as an opportunity to grow and learn.  She is glad it is personalized to her desire to work on Bible Study.  She is very excited to learn even more as the year goes on.
  • Similarly, Becky loves learning and all the angles that come with the opportunity to learn and grow together.  She is really excited about being with someone who is steeped in learning while in college.  Becky says that students bring “a humming sense of learning to what we are doing.”  She is reminded by the Hymn, “New Every Morning”, which the congregation is singing and learning about, that this is what it is all about.

Looking forward:

  • Julianna is very excited about the connections she will make with the people this year.  She feels so close already and is looking forward to stronger connections developing.
  • Becky is excited that Julianna will have the opportunity to preach on the first Sunday in November.  Then, looks forward to seeing the growth and changes between November and when Julianna preaches again toward the end of the year.  Becky also delights in anticipating how the relationships with the people in the congregation will grow over the year.  Julianna’s interest in health and her enjoyment of time with people of all ages is sure to be integral to the growth they all experience this year together.


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