Meet Maddie Johnson
Maddie is in her first year of the Master of Divinity program. She plans to be ordained as a deacon in The United Methodist Church, in order to fulfill her vocation as translator among the refugee and immigrant populations. This translation is one that goes beyond languages, as Maddie sees herself as one who can amplify and empower the voices that are often dismissed, misunderstood, and silenced. “I don’t have to live in the same fear as marginalized people so I can stand up; I can be someone who advocates hospitality for people not in their home.” Maddie is a fluent Spanish speaker, has been a CASA volunteer, volunteered with Mission Adelante, and has been deeply involved in youth ministry at her home church.
Why did you choose Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary?
“Participating in the admissions process, and ultimately visiting the campus, I knew I had to be part of what was going on here. There is a firm belief in the Garrett-Evangelical culture that we are going to change the world; opportunities, visions, and passions of students to make the world a more just place fulfill that belief. Something unique is happening here, and I have to be part of it.”
What has it been like to be part of the Garrett-Evangelical community?
“We are here for academia, but Garrett-Evangelical is also very intentional about nurturing our spirits. Since arriving on campus, I have experienced the family atmosphere where second and third year students are encouraging and advising the first year students, and everyone is helping each other. Everyone wants each other to succeed. I know that what I am doing is good for me. I feel fulfilled, refreshed, and at home.”
What has surprised you about theological education at Garrett-Evangelical?
“Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anderson makes the Hebrew Bible come alive for us in a way that I never expected. Her hermeneutical lens for reading the Hebrew Bible in light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Brazil gives great importance to our studies; we are empowered by her work to do meaningful theological work ourselves. In the same vein, it is indisputable that there are consequences and implications for your interpretation of scripture. We don’t have the privilege here to talk about issues in the abstract, because they have real consequences for our fellow students. I feel as though I know a lot of people here better than I know even my friends back home because you have to learn each other’s contexts in order to learn from them, and how not to hurt them with your perspective. That has been humbling.”
What are you most eager to learn?
“Having spent much of my life in an area where the overwhelming majority holds a different political and social view point from my own, I have felt like a black sheep at times, having a passion for social justice, particularly among immigrants and refugees. With this in mind, I am most eager to learn how to articulate the knowledge I am learning to those who have made me feel like a black sheep in my faith. I want to be a leader who loves well.”