Wednesday, July 23, 2014

40th Anniversary (1974 - 2014) of the Union of ETS and GTS

Although our full name is often cumbersome to write out (just ask anyone who has ever tried to use our full name in a tweet), there is a long rich story behind the name, "Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary." It represents a 160+ year history and the interweaving of three institutions. This month, we are honoring the 40th anniversary of the merger of two of those institutions - Garrett Biblical Institute (at the time, Garrett Theological Seminary) and Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Evangelical Theological Seminary
Administration Building
The 1968 merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form The United Methodist Church left the denomination with two theological seminaries in close proximity in the Chicago area: Garrett Biblical Institute, located in Evanston, Illinois, and Evangelical Theological Seminary, located in Naperville, Illinois. By that time, Garrett Biblical Institute had taken the name, “Garrett Theological Seminary.” The 1972 General Conference of The United Methodist Church mandated the merger of the two Chicago-area seminaries, and negotiations began between Evangelical Theological Seminary and Garrett Theological Seminary by way of a Consultation Task Force that included seminary trustees, faculty members, administrators, and students. The task force agreed on a plan to form a merged seminary using the Evanston campus. In order to embrace the traditions of both institutions, in the fall of 1974 the newly merged seminary was named Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Banner at the first worship service at the newly
formed Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
The merger meant a great deal of change for both institutions, but out of that change has been a tremendous amount of growth and vitality. In the past 40 years, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has been able to utilize the best of Garrett Theological Seminary and Evangelical Theological Seminary to emerge as a leading institution of theological education committed to rigorous academics and profound spiritual formation. We continue to train bold leaders for the church and world and are proud to continue to carry on the legacy of the two outstanding institutions who helped form our foundation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Alumni Publications

Summer can be a great time to kick back and relax with a book. So if your reading list is looking a bit short, a number of our alums have published books in the past year that might peak your interest.

Research and Writing in the Seminary: Practical Strategies and Tools
by Diana Capitani (G-ETS 2000 and 2002) and Melanie Baffes (G-ETS 2010)

This practical, how-to book for beginning seminary students offers step-by-step guidelines for typical writing assignments at the master's level. Chapters are included on the most basic and common types of writing in seminary: theological book reviews, exegetical papers, theological essays or summaries, reflection papers, research papers, and sermons. Practical, immediately relevant topics offer guidelines students can use as soon as they need them--as they begin the research and writing process. The content is accessible to all students, including those with no writing or theological background and second-career students who finished undergraduate study many years prior to entering seminary. Samples of each type of paper are included, with step-by-step commentary to help beginning students understand the process.

A Contemporary Theology for Ecumenical Peace
by James Will (ETS 1952)

 Humanity's long history of intermittent conflicts and contemporary violence undermines Christian's (and their Jewish and Muslim fellow believers) religious confidence in and moral commitment to world peace. The principal issue is the ambiguity of God's presence and action in the world as we experience it. In A Contemporary Theology for Ecumenical Peace, this problem is addressed by relating biblical theology to contemporary philosophical and theological perspectives to motivate and sustain the practice of love and justice in the context of civil religion.

From Despair to Faith: The Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard
by Christopher B. Barnett (G-ETS 2004)

Søren Kierkegaard has been called many things, from brooding genius and "melancholy Dane" to the father of existentialism. Yet, rather than clarify the nature of Kierkegaard’s writings, such labels have often obscured other important aspects of his authorship. Such, indeed, is the case with Kierkegaard’s standing as a spiritual author.

In From Despair to Faith: The Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard, Christopher B. Barnett endeavors to remedy this problem. He does so in two overarching ways. First, he orients the reader to Kierkegaard’s grounding in the Christian spiritual tradition, as well as to the Dane’s own authorial stress on themes such as upbuilding, spiritual journey, and faith. Second, Barnett maintains that Kierkegaard’s spirituality is best understood through the various "pictures" that populate his authorship. These pictures are deemed "icons of faith," since Kierkegaard consistently recommends that the reader contemplate them. In this way, they both represent and communicate what Kierkegaard sees as the fulfillment of Christian existence.

In the end, then, From Despair to Faith not only offers a new way of approaching Kierkegaard's writings, but also shows how they might serve to illuminate and to deepen one's relationship with the divine.

Arturo and the Navidad Birds
by Anne Broyles (G-ETS 1979)

Boxes of Navidad ornaments and a lifetime of memories form the cornerstones of this enchanting bilingual tale told in English and Spanish. Young Arturo and his grandmother Abue Rosa spend a day decorating the Christmas tree. As each ornament is lifted gently from its wrappings, Abue Rosa tells the story of how it became a part of her collection. Some ornaments represent friends who have passed away; some were precious childhood gifts from her own parents; and some are mementos of her life with Arturo's abuelo (grandfather). Each brings a glittering fragment of the past as it adorns the tree. While Abue Rosa attends to the tamales in the kitchen, Arturo plays with a delicate ornament. When disaster strikes, Arturo is heartbroken. He learns an important lesson when he takes responsibility for his actions.

Arturo and the Navidad Birds was awarded Second Place in the International Latino Book Awards for "Best Bilingual Children's Fiction Picture Book." These awards represent 18 countries and three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, English).

Untamed Devotions: Stories of a Wild God
by Shane Allen Burton (G-ETS 1995)

In an untamed world riddled with untamed hate and violence, it is powerful and comforting to know there is an Untamed Love born of the heart of an Untamed God. Through these very personal stories, you will find yourself drawn into experiences of the extravagant Love of a very Wild God. God is untamed - God never holds back. God is always with us, waiting and wanting to help us through life's untamed moments.

Reform Movements in Methodism and How They Were Treated
by Paul F. McCleary (GBI 1956)

This book examines early reform movements in American Methodism, particularly the reform movements between 1790-1830, and their impact on the governance within the denomination. A secondary purpose is to initiate a study of the ramifications of the episcopal form of government has on the vitality of a local congregation of The United Methodist Church.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Master of Divnity Student Participates in Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Master of Divinity student, TJ Williams-Hauger was recently honored with an invitation to participate in a meeting hosted by the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group at the United States Department of State on issues lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons are facing worldwide.

At the June 6th meeting, participants discussed strategies for dealing with global instances of homophobia that have manifested in criminalization bills coming out of Nigeria and Uganda against LGBT persons. These strategies included: looking at how global violence against LGBT people has been spread by American Evangelical ministers, seeing human rights as a more inclusive right, and merging human rights violations together and focusing on the whole community rather than only on specific LGBT violations in Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria.

TJ Williams-Hauger with Vice President Joe Biden
and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden
“If we are to make a moral place for LGBT people to live and be in their own communities, then we must understand the complex connections to other human rights violations. We must also understand Western influence in creating these violations,” said Williams-Hauger. “We advisory board members and our current government administration along with religious leaders must be mindful of this history, but also support, plant and lead messages of liberation [for LGBT people]. We must also remind global partners, communities, and leaders that its sons and daughters are its responsibility.”

Some other suggestions and strategies emerging out of the meeting revolved around identifying ministers, leaders, and scholars who can be new voices of hope and speak against the use of the Bible to justify human rights violations. In addition, there was encouragement to move away from the language of individual sin to collective sin, identifying what and why something is a sin and how to respond. Another issue brought up was the way public policy is used to criminalize and oppress certain groups of people but also how to recognize and express cultural differences without excusing human rights violations.

Williams-Hauger saw close connections between his seminary education at Garrett-Evangelical and his work with the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group, “It helps remind me that the world in which I live is my responsibility. I am not just an occupant of my city, my nation or my world, but I must be a participant. For me, Jesus' demand that I go out into world is not just about personal salvation, but it is about my personal responsibility as I live to proclaim God's justice. My theological education is entwined with my public and personal call to go into what is wrong with the world and be God's hands and feet and live Jesus' inaugural sermon in Luke 4:16-21.”

The Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group is one of six working groups under the Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) for the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. The Federal Advisory Committee for the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society was created in 2011 by then U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to provide advice and assistance in the formulation of U.S. policies, proposals, and strategies for engagement with, and protection of, civil society worldwide.