Seminarian Interns Return to The Holy Hill

Throughout the years, interns from Virginia Theological Seminary, Episcopal’s neighbors on the Hill, have spent a week on Episcopal’s campus to learn about ministry in schools. The Seminarians are required to fulfill a field education requirement, which has further strengthened the bonds between EHS and VTS. Yaa Addison and Brandon Nonnemaker chose to complete a Contextual Ministry Intensive at Episcopal this January, which focused on weekday culture and day-to-day full-time ministry as a school chaplain.

After witnessing three women lead an Episcopalian worship service as a child, Addison knew ministry was her calling. In her four weeks as a Chaplain intern at EHS, she shadowed Head Chaplain Betsy Carmody, attended classes with students of all ages, preached in Callaway Chapel twice, and coached indoor track.

“My middle school chaplain said, ‘you would make a good priest,’” Addison remembered. “I was able to fully listen to that call within the last five years, and that’s how I ended up here.” 

Raised Catholic, Brandon Nonnemaker only attended Mass during his childhood. He then slowly drifted away from worship until he had his own family, which includes his wife Mallory Nonnemaker — Episcopal’s theater director. Seeking out a church family reoriented him in the direction of the Seminary. As an intern, he followed a similar schedule to Addison as he shadowed Assistant Head Chaplain Richmond Jones and aided the yearbook staff during afternoon options.

As a former teacher in northeast Georgia, Nonnemaker spent twelve years teaching in the public education system. He considered this internship an opportunity to influence the next generation of scholars, teachers, and possible Seminarians. “I come from a background in education, but I wanted to explore a different role within a school.”

Her senior year of college, Addison had to take an unwanted year off but found her passion thanks to one of her former educators. She was offered a coaching position with high schoolers and unknowingly cemented her future.  

“I fell in love with it,” Addison said. “It also helped solidify my calling.”

Shadowing Rev. Carmody and Rev. Jones was a chance to understand ministry through the eyes of seasoned professionals. Through four snowy weeks at The High School, they both gained comfortability and connections.
Inspired by her time with Episcopal students, Addison aspires to create the authentic bonds that she saw Rev. Carmody enjoy with both students and adults. "She wears so many hats and wears them so well.” Addison acknowledged Rev. Carmody is deeply invested in the spiritual formation of the students, faculty, and staff.  
Prior to leaving EHS, Nonnemaker received helpful advice from Rev. Jones and other faculty members who challenged him to grow spiritually and professionally. This helped him create a connection that cultivated a very special learning and growing environment.  
“I found conversations with other faculty to be really meaningful, not just for my work here, but just in my own spiritual discernment,” Nonnemaker stated. “I want to leave Seminary with as many tools in my toolkit as possible. I felt like everything I learned at EHS is applicable to parish ministry.”
As they move on, they are grateful for the time they had on The Holy Hill. 
“I want to thank the EHS community for welcoming us and just treating us like community members right away,” Addison said. “The care that they have for their students is tangible. I felt it as a student myself for four weeks.” 
Both in their second year at the Virginia Theological Seminary, they look forward to completing their final year, and moving on to parish ministry. Where that may lead them, “God only knows,” Nonnemaker said.