Student Stories 2013-2014

 

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Student Stories 2013-2014


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A Letter from Jeremy Westrick

Jeremy Westrick    

May 21, 2014

Greetings:

I am honored to be a scholarship recipient at Garrett-Evangelical. Because of the generous support I receive, I have been able to answer God’s call to prepare for a life of ministry. I would not be able to pursue the wonderful opportunity of theological education at Garrett-Evangelical without it.

I am completing my second year of seminary, seeking to graduate with a master of divinity degree in May of 2015. Throughout my time here at Garrett-Evangelical, I have been challenged and stretched far more than I anticipated when I started. The faculty is both positive and affirming, yet they also seek to challenge and encourage students to think critically about their beliefs and practices. Truly they are deeply invested in helping to shape faithful and well-prepared stewards for ministry. The academic rigor and high expectations they set for our work are only tempered by their grace and fervent desire for each student’s success in ministry. The learning environment at Garrett-Evangelical is unlike any I have experienced before.

Further, the master of divinity program at Garrett-Evangelical has provided me the opportunity to actually serve and practice ministry in the real world. I am currently serving 15 hours per week, as part of my required field education, at Grace United Methodist Church of Logan Square here in Chicago. This experience has been fantastic as it allows me to take what I am learning in the classroom and apply it in a real life ministry situation. I have been able to preach, provide pastoral care, teach Sunday School, and partner with community action organizations in the neighborhood. Through this placement, I have a much better idea what my first appointment will involve, and I am far more prepared than I would be had my education been confined to just the classroom.

And finally, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Palestine as part of my cross-cultural education through Garrett-Evangelical. I spent 12 days in Israel and Palestine on a trip led by Dr. Barry Bryant, one of my favorite professors here. The name of the trip is Outrageous Hope: A Peace and Justice Immersion in Israel/Palestine. I not only visited all of the holy sites in Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, but also met with many Israeli and Palestinian families and peace groups during our time there. All of this, combined with sharing the experience with the close friends that I have made in my time here, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I cannot thank you enough for your generous and faithful support. To freely give of your resources in support of someone else’s call is truly selfless and open-hearted, and you have both my gratitude and greatest respect for your gift. Please continue supporting Garrett-Evangelical.

With greatest thanks,

Westrick Signature

Jeremy Westrick 

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

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Justin Lane

Hometown
Beech Grove, Indiana

Age
24

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

Degrees
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.

 Calling
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.

 

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The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.