Meet Octavius Wilson

 MG 0032 copy copyHometown: Chicago, Illinois

Home church: Carter Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Chicago

Degree program: Master of divinity

Other degrees: Bachelor of arts in business administration

Formative experiences: Truthfully, I have had many experiences that can be attributed to accepting Christ in my life and my call to service. The one that really stands out to me was an experience in 2007 when I lost one of my closest friends to gun violence. Growing up on the south side of Chicago was filled with challenges. Young people are faced with the temptations of drugs, gangs, and dropping out of school. Even my friends and I made some bad decisions and ended up affiliated with the gangs in the neighborhood. Because of this decision from our childhood, one of my friends ended up losing his life. Unfortunately, I was there to watch him breathe his last breath.

This incident changed my life. It made me appreciate life more than I ever had in the past. The experience also gave me a passion for people who are influenced and affected by gangs. This tragedy eventually led me to God, and now I am serving at a church in the inner city as the youth pastor. The challenges I have had in my life make me want to help those faced with the similar challenges make the right decisions in their lives. It is my goal to see our youth survive, and ministry is the avenue in which this will happen. It is my hope that the seminary will refine my gifts so that I can be even more effective in saving lives.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: What attracted me to Garrett-Evangelical was my first cousin, Rev. Dr. George Wilson. He is an alumnus of this school and spoke with such high regard of the faculty and the program at this seminary. Since I have been here, everything he said has been true. I am extremely glad to be matriculating at Garrett-Evangelical.

Plans for the future: It is my dream to one day be the CEO of a community center that provides a space for spiritual, mental, and physical health development for children, youth, and adults. It is my hope that there will be more than one facility and that each will be placed in a community that is in need of change, socially and economically. It is my vision that these facilities will be a form of the church that is less traditional, but just as effective in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ by being the light in the midst of darkness.

Meet Paul Ortiz

Ortiz PaulHome state: California

Home church: Urban Village Church, Chicago, Illinois

Degree program: Master of Divinity

Formative experiences: My earliest memories of church life are in little storefront buildings located in the California barrios where I grew up. Growing up in the Hispanic/Latino(a) Pentecostal tradition, the songs we sang and the sermons I heard were mostly in Spanish, and as a result the theology was often in Spanish, too. By this I mean that I was presented with a God that was involved with the struggles of the poor Hispanic families of my childhood congregations. My journey since has taken me to non-denominationalchurches and recently to The United Methodist Church.
 
Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: I have found Garrett-Evangelical to be theologically progressive and evangelical at the same time. This combination is important to me. I believe that the future of the church is a blend of the passionate spirit of the Evangelical Church along with the bigger theological outlook that often categorizes mainline Protestantism.

Plans for the future: I have been part of Urban Village Church since 2010 and was a church planting intern for over a year. I have recently transitioned to student pastor at a bilingual United Methodist Church, El Redentor Del Calvario/Redeemer of Calvary. I dream about church planting in Hispanic/Latino(a) neighborhoods and experimenting with new ways of doing church. Many Hispanic/Latino(a) people from my generation identify as religious “nones.” I desire to minister to those whom have been disillusioned or even hurt by the church.

 

Meet Whanhee Oh

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.13.50 PMHometown: Incheon, South Korea

Home church: Dongsoo Methodist Church, South Korea

Program: Master of Theological Studies

Other degrees: Bachelor’s degree in theology from Methodist Theological University, Seoul, South Korea

Formative experiences
Just before completing my undergraduate studies, I took time off because I was desperate to find my dream. During the break, I tried everything that I had always dreamt of, including working at a clothing store, learning how to dance and swim, and getting different certification licenses. Then, I packed my bag and went backpacking for the first time by myself to Europe. It was the most terrific experience and helped me find my interests and passion. After traveling, I became more independent. I realized that I need to study more. I was determined to study abroad and followed what my mind said. I am thankful to be part of the Garrett-Evangelical family.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical
Every week, I have experienced surprising grace and comfort from worship services at the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful. Especially when I attend the Holy Communion, I feel true communal relationships with Christ and with the community. Not only at the chapel, but also in the classroom, I am learning how to make worship a lifestyle with great friends at the seminary. I was surprised at the strong sense of community and fellowship at Garrett-Evangelical. Many people are dedicated to building a good community for the world.

Plans for the future
I think God calls me to bring my friends to church and to worship God together. One day, I hope all my friends, their family members and children, and I will gather as a worshiping community and share our faith journeys in Christ. In order to make it possible, art is a very important means and resource in my liturgical studies and calling.

Meet Katye Dunn


Dunn websiteHometown: Little Rock, Arkansas

Home church: Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Degree program
: Master of divinity

Other degrees:
Bachelor of fine arts in dance performance and bachelor of arts in religious studies from Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dallas

Formative experiences: I am a born and bred Southern girl who loves dance, sports, and a good cup of coffee. My family and my friends are the most important things in the world to me, and it has been a good day if I have laughed out loud and given at least one person a hug. During my college years, focused on a career in concert dance and musical theatre, I started volunteering with the youth ministry at my home church during holiday and summer breaks. I found so much peace and joy and discovered that God could use me (little old ME) as I went on mission trips with youth in parts of rural Arkansas, led bible study at Starbucks with a group of middle school girls, and built one-on-one relationships with the students, getting to know their hearts and stories – walking with them on the journey of faith. By the time I graduated from SMU, I had gone from not seeing myself doing anything other than performing on stage to not seeing myself doing anything other than youth ministry.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: All of the puzzle pieces came together here at Garrett-Evangelical. Living in the South my whole life, I wanted to experience a different part of the country, and I wanted to be close to Chicago’s vibrant music, dance, and theater scene. Pursuing ordination as a deacon in the The United Methodist Church, it was important to me that Garrett-Evangelical is a place that is open and welcoming to students discerning that call. If all of that wasn’t enough, doing my campus visit and meeting the amazing students and administration was all the confirmation I needed that I would fit right in here.

Plans for the future: As long as God will let me, I plan to serve as an ordained youth minister in the local church.

Meet Austin Rinehart

austin rinehartName
Austin Rinehart

Hometown
Sterlington, Louisiana

Home church
Noel Memorial United Methodist Church, Shreveport, Louisiana

Degree program
Master of divinity

Other degrees
Bachelor of Arts, Centenary College of Louisiana

Formative experiences
I’ve had many formative experiences in my life, but one of the more recent ones happened in the summer of 2012. I was selected as a fellow for the Fund for Theological Education. As per the requirements of the fellowships, I attended a conference in Nashville, Tennessee, with the other fellows for a four-day experience on the campus of Vanderbilt University. A wide array of theological backgrounds and a diversity of denominations were represented within this group, including United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Roman Catholic, and non-denominational as well. Being in the presence of such great minds and great theological conversations really brought home the understanding of the Body of Christ. We might not all think alike, look alike, love the same persons, or profess the same faith, but we all are united under the love and grace of God. For someone like me, who loves interdenominational and interfaith dialogue, this was a mountain top experience that allowed me to encounter something I am very passionate about in a tangible way. 

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical
When looking towards seminary, I narrowed down my search to two United Methodist schools, Garrett-Evangelical being one of those. I ultimately chose Garrett-Evangelical because of its commitment to social justice, progressive theology, and a deep concern for the student. From the very first moment I stepped on campus, I felt at home. I felt connected in a way that I did not feel at other schools I visited. I was instantly attracted to the wonderful professors, challenging curriculum, and interactive classroom experiences. I can fully say with confidence that Garrett-Evangelical has been everything I was hoping and wishing for in a seminary experience.

Plans for the future
I feel a deep connection and call back to my conference, the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church. I really feel like God is calling me to be a leader there and to be an agent of change. Our conference is doing some wonderful things, and with a new episcopal leader, Bishop Cynthia Harvey, it is positioned for the future. I feel called to play a crucial part in that future. I am currently a certified candidate for the elder track, and I plan to be ordained as soon as I finish my time here at Garrett-Evangelical.

UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.