160: Don Baker

don bakerDon Baker began his work in 1968 with alienated and disenfranchised youth in Evanston. His ministry was supported for a time by the Evanston cluster of Methodist churches. In 1971, a board chaired by Dr. James Babbitt, a Garrett faculty member, established Youth Organizations Umbrella, Inc., and hired Don as director. Y.O.U. always sought to identify and serve young people on the margins who were overlooked by or resistant to participate in the rich resources of Evanston. Over the years, those included middle-school students at risk of gang involvement, children of non-English-speaking immigrant families, and families whose economic and emotional poverty prevented caring for their children. When Don retired in 2011, Y.O.U. had provided programming for 15,000 Evanston children from third grade through high school. They benefited from after-school programs supporting academic, social, and recreational growth; summer programs providing enrichment and recreation; family services and support including crisis intervention, emergency housing, bilingual staff, and social opportunities; and most important, caring relationships with staff whose professional training and empathy were always directed to the well-being of each child and youth.

Don was considered the "dean" of social service organizations after many years of mentoring and counsel.  As grants from all levels of government (city/county/state/federal) became integral to service development and delivery, he was named convener of a network of over 20 Evanston agencies and schools who worked together on coordinating services and sharing vital information.  As a partner in grant applications with the police department, school system, YMCA, and other agencies, he helped bring millions of dollars to improve the lives of the people of Evanston.

 He has been recognized for his leadership in service organizations and the community of Evanston by groups including the YMCA, NAACP, and Evanston Chamber of Commerce. On Father's Day 2005 he was selected by Family Focus Evanston as one of seven "community fathers" in its first recognition of men who in their person and their work offer young people strength, support, encouragement, and hope for the future.  In 2013 he received the Bishop Jesse R. Dewitt Child Advocacy Award from NIC Voices for Children.

Though Y.O.U. is a secular organization, Don always considered his work a ministry to "the least of these."  His vision has been based in his own experience of God's grace and his belief in the primacy of God's love.  It is faith in God's plenteous creation, which can provide for all.  He seeks to provide a place of healing for those who are sick in heart and bruised by the circumstances of their lives; a place where the poor and excluded can be equipped for a fulfilled and productive life; where justice is done, one young life at a time; and where the rich can give with the assurance that their gifts will bear fruit. 

Meet Justin Lane

Name MG 5626
Justin Lane

Beech Grove, Indiana


Home Church & Denomination
Westlake Community Church of God
Church of God (Anderson, IN)

B.A. in Bible and Comparative Religion, Anderson University

Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year
M.T.S., first year

Background Information
It seems like I have been an academic my whole life. As a young child, I would beg my mother to quiz me on all different types of facts when we were in the car. While I tended to enjoy history the most, my mother would “quiz” me on just about everything she could. In high school, I was very intrigued by a few pastors and teachers that would dive deep into the history and culture of the biblical text. There were many times I would get so caught up in their historical and cultural explanations that I would miss the point of the sermon. This led me to pursue biblical studies at the collegiate level.
During my freshman year at Anderson University, I took a course with Dr. Merle Strege. Dr. Strege is the professor of historical theology and an avid golfer; needless to say we got along very well. Dr. Strege became my advisor, mentor, and friend. However, the greatest gift he gave me was a love of education and critical analysis.

Many of my current classmates have great stories of their calling into vocational ministry. While I haven’t necessarily felt the “call” that they experienced, I am certain that I am faithfully pursuing the vocation and the passions that I have been given. It is my greatest hope that my academic work will positively affect the church and interreligious dialogue. While I may not serve in a parish, I believe I can contribute to the work of the church through exploring biblical texts academically.

Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical
There are two main reasons why I choose Garrett-Evangelical. First, the Old Testament faculty is exceptional. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from their different experiences and areas of expertise. Second, I wanted to attend a seminary that is equally focused on good academic work and a desire to passionately serve the church.

Career Plans
Ideally, upon graduation for Garrett-Evangelical, I would immediately begin doctoral studies. I would like to study the canonical and rabbinical Hebrew writings in the Second Temple period at a university in the United Kingdom. Upon completion of my doctorate, I hope to teach in a college or university where I can do research and give future students the same gift I was given, a love for education and critical analysis.


Student Stories 2011-2012

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Brenda Kostner Mao Her Kentina Washington
carole snow Lauren Wallem photo KyungSu
Carole Snow Lauren Wallem KyungSu Park

Class of 1962 Photo


Garrett-Evangelical Class of 1962 Reunion, as photographed in Evanston, Illinois, May 11, 2012

Front row, bottom step, left to right
Miley Palmer, Don Ferrill, Don Leo, Gene Matthews and Robert Harman

Middle row, left to right
Leroy Fassett, Philip Richardson, Lowell Walsworth, Ralph Dude, Royal Speidel, Fred Eisenhut and Curtis Rolfe

Back row, left to right
Dewey Sanders, Jim Current, John Schreiber, James McHolland, Walter Wagener and Irwin Jennings

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