Thursday, November 20, 2014

Confessions of a First Year MDiv Student

With the holiday season upon us, the Fall semester will be coming to an end in mere weeks. It seems like orientation was just yesterday. However, our newest students have survived their first Old Testament exam; can now define words like pneumatology; and fully understand how to switch from the Purple to the Red line at Howard. The first semester of seminary comes with a lot of transition so we caught up with Jenn Meadows, first-year M.Div. student, and asked her to share some reflections . . . or in Jenn's case, confessions.

I started my theological studies at Garrett-Evangelical this fall. I’m from the great state of Indiana (GO HOOSIERS!) and I’ve started the candidacy process to become an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church. Before coming to seminary, I spent my undergrad years at the University of Indianapolis studying public relations and communication. I had never studied theology before so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But after two Old Testament Exams, a paper about the Trinity, and a few mishaps on the ‘EL’, I’m still enjoying my time at Garrett-Evangelical.

Growing up in rural Indiana, there was a little bit of adjustment to Evanston and Chicago. I’m in love with cities, but my city of Indy doesn’t have a rail system like Chicago. When I first got to Evanston, people kept telling me about the Purple Line and the Red Line. I knew they were part of the rail system, but I did not have the slightest clue about how to use it. After a few mishaps of getting off at the wrong stop, I also learned you don’t make eye contact with strangers on the ‘EL’. That was difficult for this girl that was taught that Hoosier Hospitality. 

After a few weeks of Googling what ecclesiology, pneumatology, and Christology were, I started to get a grasp on the seminary lingo. Coming from my background in public relations, a lot of my work was less than 140 characters. I fell into a whole new world at seminary, but the professors were understanding and helped me figure out the waters of seminary. I’m also incredibly blessed to live among a community that is supportive and helps lift one another up during these difficult times. I’ll admit there were those moments where I found myself questioning why I though seminary was a good idea in the first place, but the transition flowed smoothly and I couldn’t be happier at Garrett-Evangelical!


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.