Monday, August 25, 2014

The Class of 2014: Uziel Hernandez Martinez and Heather Dorr

As we prepare to welcome our incoming class in a few weeks, we wanted to spend some time with our newest alums - the Class of 2014 - and their reflections on their time at Garrett-Evangelical.

Uziel Hernandez Martinez
Master of Divinity

My time at Garrett-Evangelical has shaped my ministry and calling in many different ways. First, Garrett-Evangelical gave me tools to think, analyze, and do critical theological reflection in ministry and academic settings. Second, Garrett-Evangelical placed me in ministry situations which helped me see, understand, and better use strengths and weaknesses in my ministerial and academic abilities. Third, Garrett-Evangelical helped me grow into a better person socially, academically, and spiritually by participating in the student life of the seminary.

Finally, Garrett-Evangelical helped me creatively discern my calling to ministry. As part of this discernment, I am especially thankful for the experience at Garrett-Evangelical of preaching at a student-led chapel service during Hispanic/Latino(a) Latin American Week in the fall of 2013. My hopes for the future are to work in full-time ministry, gain experience as a minister in the church, and pursue ordination as an elder in The United Methodist Church within the Northern Illinois Conference.

Heather Dorr
Master of Divinity

My experiences at Garrett-Evangelical have made me into a theologian. Before coming here, I would not have given myself such a title, but I now understand that everyone thinks theologically and is a theologian. Through all of my classes, I learned vocabulary that helped me to speak about when and how I see God at work in the world, and I have learned the importance of being able to express my theological views.

My own theological viewpoint is quite relational. Our relationship to God, God’s relationship to us, and our relationships to one another are all connected. This has clarified my calling on how to be in healthy, loving relationship with God and with others. My time at Garrett-Evangelical has given me tools for how to cultivate this work within a ministry context with both practical and liturgical leadership.

I was just commissioned by the Iowa Annual Conference and have been appointed to serve as pastor at Eagle Grove United Methodist Church. I hope to bring creative ways to express faith and new ways to see God, and I am looking forward to all that I have to learn in this new context.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Class of 2014: Michael Vollmer and Heewon Kim

As we prepare to welcome our incoming class in a few weeks, we wanted to spend some time with our newest alums - the Class of 2014 - and their reflections on their time at Garrett-Evangelical.

Michael Vollmer
Master of Divinity

While at Garrett- Evangelical, I found the focus of my future work in God’s ministry and clarification of my calling. During Dr. Mark Teasdale’s class, “Empowering Congregations for Evangelism,” I discovered my passion for evangelism and reclaiming it as an act of love, not hate or condemnation.

One of my most formative learning experiences came from an intensive course I took with Dr. Mark Fowler on church administration and leadership. I learned more in those two weeks about leadership and practical application for a pastor in a church than at any other time. I know those lessons and information will serve me well going forward working in local churches.

At Garrett-Evangelical, I also discovered a calling to help struggling congregations rebuild—church recovery, as I like to call it. So many churches are teetering on the edge of dying, churches that I believe can be brought back and strengthened with the right leadership approach and by leading with God’s love. It is my hope for my work in God’s ministry to help these congregations become vibrant and relevant again, both in their local communities and the world.

Heewon Kim
Master of Divinity

Being at Garrett-Evangelical has deeply shaped my calling not only through my academic studies, but also through small group discussions and mentoring during the Vocational Formation and Church Leadership course meetings. Every semester, we were asked to observe what was going on in our ministries. My colleagues and I discussed and wrestled with all kinds of issues concerning our callings and how we understood our ministries. We were amazed that we saw ourselves using and applying all kinds of theologies and knowledge that we were learning in the classroom. Finally, we could spell out, “Who am I before God,” together.

In addition to these classroom experiences, I am so thankful for my on-campus work opportunity as a student librarian until I graduated. Every semester, the library provided events for people, including student workers. My supervisor, Mary-Carol, made gifts for student workers, and she was a warm care-giver. I’ve learned a lot both in the classroom and the United Library about what it means to be a pastor I am serving now at Dixon First United Methodist Church as associate pastor. My hope is to be a servant connecting people with Jesus Christ so they may live abundant lives with God and in their communities.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Class of 2014: Jasmine Jackson and Jeremiah Gibbs

As we prepare to welcome our incoming class in a few weeks, we wanted to spend some time with our newest alums - the Class of 2014 - and their reflections on their time at Garrett-Evangelical.

Jasmine Jackson
Master of Arts in Christian Education

At the time of my enrollment at Garrett- Evangelical, it was quite intimidating to think of myself as “called to ministry.” Although I could not articulate my goals, I knew, based upon my testimony, that God would use me! Initially, I thought I came to seminary to gain a better understanding of how to read, study, and teach the Bible. However, Garrett-Evangelical far exceeded my expectations by cultivating and nurturing my call to ministry, as well as illuminating and strengthening gifts and passions I did not realize I had. My time at Garrett- Evangelical has compelled me to challenge myself in ministry and be willing to try new experiences. One of these challenging new experiences, studying early Christianity in Rome for three weeks, became my most memorable experience at Garrett-Evangelical.

Recently, God has blessed me with opportunities to serve in ministry through preaching, speaking, and teaching. My hope is to continue to surrender to God’s call, allowing my testimony and resources in Christian education to be used for God’s glory. I believe that I am part of an assembly of young women whom God is using to redefine and dispel traditional depictions of ministry, all while inspiring others! I am proud to be a graduate of this seminary and extremely grateful to the entire community of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary for the continued support of my call and development along this journey!

Jeremiah Gibbs
Doctor of Philosophy

When I decided to earn a Ph.D. from a seminary, I thought I was preparing to teach in seminary or one of the Bible colleges of Assemblies of God. But a Ph.D. from a seminary turned out to be the perfect training for the ministry of university chaplaincy where I find myself today. Rigorous and faithful theology is central to helping university students find their way into adulthood and independence, and I have been trained to do that well at Garrett-Evangelical. In addition, I am most grateful to have met my wife at Garrett-Evangelical and to have shared in many good-spirited, theological “arguments” with seminary colleagues around the lunch table in Loder Hall. When my students are preparing for seminary now, I usually suggest that these conversations are some of the most critical for theological formation.

I currently serve as university chaplain and director of the Lantz Center for Christian Vocation at the United Methodist-related University of Indianapolis. This dual role means that I teach about 50% of my time and lead campus ministry programming for the rest. I sense a very close alignment with my calling here and hope to stay in this role for a long time. I also have plans to impact the Church more broadly through writing. Currently I am working on a book about women in ministry that will be followed by another on vocational discernment. I believe the Church is at a critical time of reshaping ministry for the future, and I plan to be part of that ongoing conversation.