Garrett-Evangelical News

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

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.

 

Class of 1962 Photo

class-of-1962

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

Class of 1961 Photo

class-of-1961

Garrett-Evangelical 50 year reunion, May 12, 2011, Evanston, IL

Front row, left to right:
Larry Winebrenner, Chomingwen Pond, Philip Burke, Siegfried Eisenmann, Norman Silvester, and Harold Bodeen

Back row left to right:
David Schuldt, Douglas Norris, Donald McClain, Franklin Dotts, Bob Bowers, James Witsaman, Lyman Farrar, and  John Wilkey 

Distinguished Alums 2012

TomGoddell picTom Goodell

Thomas D. Goodell is the oldest child of the late Rev. David and Nan Goodell.  He is a third generation pastor and a third generation Garrett-Evangelical graduate (paternal grandfather Roy Goodell is a Garrett alum). He spent most of his growing up years in the Peoria and Dunlap, Illinois, areas.

Goodell did his undergraduate studies at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, where he studied history.  He was accepted as a Dunn Intern in the office of Governor Jim Thompson following graduation.  He later worked two years in the Illinois Department of Insurance.  While at Blackburn, Goodell met his wife, Sherry. They have been married for 25 years and have two sons, Andrew and Nicholas. 

Goodell received the call to the ministry and graduated from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary with a master of divinity degree in 1991. His first appointment was serving the Cropsey-Strawn United Methodist Churches (1989-1992). Subsequently, he served as associate pastor at Normal First United Methodist Church in Normal, Illinois (1992-1996); directing pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Maryville, Illinois (1996-2003); and director of the Wesley Foundation at Eastern Illinois University (2003-2004).  

Goodell currently serves as the directing pastor at Crossroads United Methodist Church in Washington, Illinois (2004-present). Now in his eighth year, he has overseen the rapid growth of the congregation from 400 members to a total of 930 members, with an average worship attendance of 800. Evidence of his strong ministry is that there are currently several young adults in the congregation who are considering their call to ministry.

Rich Brown chair of the pastor-parish relations committee says, “Tom has brought many gifts to Crossroads, including his great desire for members to truly desire to become disciples of Jesus, not just church attendees. This shows in the way that Tom preaches, teaches, leads, and loves his congregation.”  Brown praises the new program Tom has spearheaded called, "Learn, Grow, Live." He says, “We first learn more about the church and who Christ is and accept Him as Savior, if that has not happened previously. Then we learn to live as disciples of Christ through Bible study, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines. Finally we grow more like Christ as we continue to learn his plans for us through Alpha, Walk to Emmaus, and other spiritual growth opportunities.”

In partnership with other area churches, Goodell is a key organizer for Threads of Love, a center providing access to clothing for families and individuals in need of assistance in the Washington community. The center rotates between nine local churches. The partnership between the churches grew out of the need of the community and the desire for local churches to work together. 

He has also worked with Habitat for Humanity, the McLean County AIDS Task Force, the efforts of Bloomington-Normal churches to promote cross-cultural awareness, the Maryville Ministerial Alliance, and the Illinois Rivers Annual Conference Board of Higher Education (past chairperson).  He is a past recipient of the City of Normal Human Relations Commission Award, the City of Bloomington Human Relations Commission Award, the YWCA of McLean County One Imperative Award and the Harry S. Denman Evangelism Award.

Goodell has shown himself to be an outstanding clergy leader in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. In addition to his duties as the directing pastor at Crossroads United Methodist Church, he serves as the Illinois Great Rivers Conference chairman of higher education, as well as serving on the conference Board of Ordained Ministry.”

Goodell is a 2009 recipient of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Denman Award for Evangelism.


mileypalmer pic copyMiley Palmer

Miley Palmer was born March 20, 1937, in Fort Worth, Texas, but has spent most of his life in Illinois. He was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in history and social studies from McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois; a master of divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary; and a doctor of ministry degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Palmer served United Methodist churches in Central and Southern Illinois for nearly 43 years. His appointments were varied: several in rural and small-town settings; two mission churches which have grown into large congregations today; four successive assignments in university communities; and a larger inner-city congregation with an influential television ministry covering a sizable portion of the state. In one appointment, he served a large number of United States Air Force personnel at a stateside training base, conducting a full-scale program of religious studies, counseling, and recreational activities. For six years, he was designated as a campus minister serving at the oldest and largest Wesley Foundation in the nation. Over the course of his ministry, 36 young adults decided to enter careers of full-time Christian service while he was serving as their pastor.

For six years he was district superintendent in the Peoria District, with 73 charges comprising 95 churches and 104 clergy. A number of new efforts aimed at reaching the un-churched and serving the needy were begun. One result was that the churches of the Peoria District annually showed growth in membership and attendance. It was the only district in the conference that saw no church close during his tenure.

He has served in the conference in a variety of roles. An elected delegate to both General and Jurisdictional Conferences, he served on the Jurisdictional Council on Ministries and Jurisdictional Committee on Ministry. He also was a member of the Conference Boards of Ordained Ministry, Higher Education and Campus Ministry, and Global Ministries. He was a member of the Commissions on Christian Vocation, Religion, and Race and the Status and Role of Women. He chaired the Boards of Discipleship and the Conference Council on Ministries, and currently chairs the Conference Board of Church and Society. He has taken an active role in prison ministry, visiting inmates in state prisons for more than a dozen years, and was a volunteer chaplain for a local police force. He was a Trustee on the Board of Methodist Medical Center in Peoria for 25 years, chairing several of its committees.

After retiring from the active pastorate at Grace United Methodist Church in Decatur, he served for three years as a chaplain on the staff of Decatur Memorial Hospital, and is now Minister of Visitation for both First Presbyterian Church and First United Methodist Church in Decatur. He preaches at various churches of different denominations in the area, as many as 35 or more times per year. He has chaired of the Human Relations Commission of the City of Decatur, served as a consultant to the campus ministry committee at Millikin University, been President of the Decatur Rotary Club and an Assistant District Governor for Rotary, chaired the Board of the Decatur Choral Society, and has led weekly study groups of lay people and clergy from a variety of denominations. He regularly leads study groups at First United Methodist and First Presbyterian Churches, and serves on several committees at Decatur Memorial Hospital.

Palmer serves on the board of trustees, executive committee, and alumni board at McKendree College and is chair of its Student Affairs Committee. He has served as a development associate for Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Palmer is married to Janet, and they are the parents of four adult children and have five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Class of 2011

2011

(left to right)
Row one: Linny Hartzell, Julie Wilson, Nancy Vidad, Henry Williams, Jr., Daniel Verdegan, Irene Beth Palanqui, Mary Jane Huber, Cherida Gary, Benjamin David Bras, Rhonda McCarty, Peter Cammarano, Jr.

Row two: Shin Hyung Seong, Danielle Farnsworth Williams, Elizabeth Miller Maidi, Christopher Quick, Kim Fisher, Ju Yeon Jeon, Grant Crusor, Kim Chapman, Shonda Nicole Gladden

Row three: Kathy Wafer, Trenton Teegarden, Richard Shaw, Carolyn Lukasick, Stacey Gassman, Suzanne Miller, Leanne Rose, Lizzy Sherfey, Troy Venning

Row four: Michael Winstead, Heather McDougall, Lowell Black, Jean Engel, Thomas Harris, Kathy Abend, Jake Weber

Row five: Virgil Woods, Cynthia Anderson, Matthew Charlton, Rustin Brian, CrasH Miller, Barbara Javore, Lucas Pepper, Chris Stephens, Ryan Davenport

Class of 2010

Class_of_2010

(left to right)

Row 1: Pyungwha Lim, Sheila Wilson-Freelon, Hyang Sook Choi, David Ahn, Meredith Elise Hudson, Teresa Jean Lafferty,  Michele Eyvonne Watkins, Alexandra Joy Petrey, Carol LeCompte Griffith, Ashley Prescott Barlow-Thompson, Anne Maurine Williams

Row 2: Philip Karl Messner, Jacqulyn Overstreet Turner, Staci Maxine Holm, Young Hee Lim, Michelle Miskimins Stephens, Hyo Sun Oh, Nancy Sophia Lynn, Lavisha Walls-Williams, Sun Hyung Jo, Donelle Jean Bergeson, Warren G. Smith, Vicki  Brantmeyer, Laura Elizabeth Barkley, Amanda Lee Bennett Baker, Emily Kathryn Slavicek, Barbara Beachy

Row 3: Jo Ann Deasy, Inetta Taylor-Schuetz, Eun Young Ko, Jonathan Wilterdink, Ann Patton, Julia Cooper Reinholz, Barbara Ross, Rae Ann Grabow Beebe, Robert Kofi Koomson, Candida L. ODell, Cathalyn Brewton,  Deborah LaVerne Thomas, Betsy Eaves, MaeLynn Sweet McCrory, Carol A. Korak, Amy Marie Atkins, Nicholas Grier

Row 4: Seokchane Suh, Sam Lee, Manuel Villabos Mendoza, Sung Jue Shin, Bruce Wilson Jr., Tommy Lee McDoniel, Scott Eugene Carnes, James Wallace Lawson, Sari Case, Felicia Howell Laboy, Robert Daniel Smith, Sun Hyung Jo, Elizabeth Mosbo Verhage, Carmichael Dale Crutchfield,, Saji George Mukkoot, Mary Hagley, Douglas Banks, Melanie Baffes, Michael VanOevren, Adam Barlow Thompson, Jonathan Trent Fell, Susan Ann Swyter, Stephanie Marie Escher

Class of 2009

Class2009

(left to right)
Row 1:  Carol Hill, Ashley Nolte, Adrienne Trevathan, Charles Murray, Esther Lee, Meredith Graham, Cynthia Wilson, Grace Janeanne Baldridge. 

Row 2:  Kathryn “Beth” Streiff, Ellen Rasmussen, Jason Hill, Anita Munden, Jennifer Tyler, Ross Baker, Krystal Bartlett, Jennifer Zeigler, So Young Kim.

Row 3:  Madeline Lockett, Susan A. Haller, Mary Lou Eubanks, Jin-Hee Kang, Amy Jo Ann Anderson, Amee Miller, Barbra Lenz, Brittney Richardson, Kristina Cunningham, Brandon Cunningham.

Row 4:  Garry Wiley Gladney, Vashti-Jasmine Murphy McKenzie, HyeMin Na, Leah Gunning Francis, Yosub Namgung, Daniel Cho, Timothy Lathrop, Darrius Hills, Soo Young Sue Kim, Myung-Sil Kim, Hwa Young Chong.

Row 5:  Eric Weed, Briton Holmberg, Nazim Fakir, Curlee Adams, Cheoni Oh, Jessica Duncan.

Row 6:  Donald Warren, Christopher E. Winkler, Joshua Sawyer, Christopher William Nahumck, Paul Elwood Gregersen, Elizabeth A. Fender, Kevin Dembinski, David I. Neville, Jr., Steven Anthony Cousin Jr., Michael Alphonso Cousin, Michael McMennamy, Scott Douglas Jagodzinske, Christine Lee Humrichouse.

Wilber and Juanita Harr Endowed Fund For Missions and World Religions

Wilber_HarrOn the anniversary year of Wilber Christian Harr’s 100th birthday (March 30, 2008), Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary proposed to honor Wilber and Juanita Harr’s legacy by growing the existing Harr Endowed Lectureship into a fund that will provide enduring support for the teaching of missions and world religions.

This is a way of renewing the original missionary spirit that enlivened Evangelical Theological Seminary, Garrett Biblical Institute, and the Chicago Training School. The goals for this fund are to provide support for more frequent lectures, courses in missions and world religions, and practical experiences for our students in missions and world religions. The long-term goal for this endowment is to provide support for visiting professors, a full-time professor, and ultimately a distinguished faculty member in missions and world religions.

The Wilber Harr Lecture was originally established at Evangelical Theological Seminary to honor Dr. Harr, who was both dean and professor of missions from 1940 to 1971. This annual lecture reflected the breadth of his interests: world religions, changing technology, ecology, human need and world poverty, third-world development, racism, government and business ethics, and minority identity groups.
David Harr, son of Wilber and Juanita Harr, spoke for the family when he said, “I am excited about the prospect of seeing a renewed missions emphasis at Garrett- Evangelical, and only incidentally because my parents’ names might be associated with it. It seems to me that, like the word “evangelical,” the idea of “missions” is pleading to be reclaimed. Who better to help reclaim it than Garrett-Evangelical, with its rich historical commitment to missions? I think it is time to romance the “M” word!”

Will you help us renew our missions emphasis by joining us in building the Harr Endowment Fund to one of the levels below, or by creating an endowment fund which will complement the Harr Endowment? We invite alums, friends, and churches to help us celebrate this centennial year of Wilber Harr’s birth by ensuring enduring support for the teaching of missions and world religions now and for generations to come. If you would like to help ensure a strong missions emphasis at Garrett-Evangelical, we invite your support. Outright gifts, multi-year pledges, and planned gift commitments are all welcome. For further information on how you can participate, contact David Heetland, vice president for development, at 847.866.3970.

HarrChairTable

Birmingham First UMC

Birmingham_UMCFirst United Methodist Church of Birmingham, Michigan, is an active congregation that empowers its members into mission and ministry in the community and across the globe. Its website states, “The purpose of the First United Methodist Church, Birmingham, is to gather persons into the body of Christ, nurture them as disciples of Jesus Christ and equip them for ministry and mission in the world. With deepening commitments and expanding ministries, our vision is to change lives and become a model New Testament congregation for the denomination and the center of Christian faith in the community.”

This congregation of 3,300 members takes seriously the call of the gospel to spread the love of Christ in the world. Last year church members visited four states and nine countries in addition to their work in metro Detroit and throughout Michigan. Additionally, they gave over $1,000,000 to more than 90 programs. “It would be easy for this congregation to just send our money, but we have been intentional about engaging our members in committing their own service to these ministries as well,” said John Harnish, senior pastor of Birmingham First. “Bishop Edsel Ammons told me that there is no such thing as a local United Methodist church; we are all part of a global connection. Anyone who comes to our church understands our larger commitments.”

Birmingham First is also committed to theological education through preparing people for ministry. Both Birmingham First and the United Methodist Women from that congregation are members of the seminary’s Leadership Circle of Congregations this year. The Leadership Circle is made up of churches and church organizations that contribute $1,000 or more to the seminary in the current fiscal year.

In addition, since the fall of 2000, Birmingham First has been opening its doors to become a teaching congregation to Garrett-Evangelical students during the January intensive term. Seminarians experience home stays with church members, and they are exposed to the inner life and workings of this congregation and other area United Methodist ministries, including Hope United Methodist Church and Cass Community Social Services. In January, 11 current students took part.

“In this experience, the theory that seminarians are learning in the classroom crashes on the rocks of reality,” said Mark Fowler, the trip’s leader, executive director of the Institute for Transformative Leaders and Communities, and The Murray H. Leiffer Associate Professor of Congregational Leadership. “The students learn what leadership entails from three contrasting perspectives, and at the same time congregation members see in these students the hope and future of The United Methodist Church.”

Garrett-Evangelical and Birmingham First have developed a strong and reciprocal relationship. Four of the five current clergy on staff at the church have a connection to the seminary. Brian and Monica William are graduates from 2002 and 2004, respectively. John Harnish holds an honorary doctorate, and Rodney Quainton was formerly on staff of the Stead Center for Ethics and Values at Garrett-Evangelical. Garrett-Evangelical graduates who have served as associate pastors in the last ten years include Matthew Hook (1991 and one of last year’s distinguished alums), Jeff Nelson (2004), Carl Gladstone (2004), and Lynn Hasley (2004).

Garrett-Evangelical has also benefited from its relationship with Birmingham First. Dale and Barbara Glick, members of the church, serve on Garrett- Evangelical’s Council of Laity. Two life trustees, Cliff Bath and Jay Hook, and two current trustees, Ann Littleton and Roger Cummings, are members of the church.

Garrett-Evangelical is grateful to Birmingham First United Methodist Church and to its congregation for the important role they are playing in bearing witness to the love of God through Christ – and for the role they are playing in preparing future leaders of the church.

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Wesley S. Wieting

Wieting_PhotoWesley Wieting was introduced to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in July 1995 by Myrta Pfeiffer, when she invited him to join her for lunch one day to meet David Heetland from the seminary. Myrta was a life trustee at Garrett- Evangelical, and took seriously her responsibility to introduce others to the seminary. Wes and Myrta both lived at Beacon Hill, a retirement community in Lombard, Illinois. His late wife, Norma, and Myrta had been close friends, as both had been active in The United Methodist Church at the local, conference, and international levels. Wes and Myrta were friends who liked to joke that they were the Methodist Mafia in a retirement community dominated by Missouri Synod Lutherans and Southern Baptists.

Wes himself was no stranger to the church. Born in a parsonage on November 10, 1910, Wes liked to comment that there was always plenty of “God talk” around when he was growing up. With a wry sense of humor, Wes would tell folks that his father, a clergyman in the Chicago German Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was in the fire insurance business.

Wes discovered his calling in architecture. After graduating with a degree in architecture, he served in the corps of engineers from 1942-1946. In 1946 he joined the architectural firm of Perkins and Will in Chicago, married Norma Schmidt, and moved to Oak Park, Illinois, where they lived for 45 years. In retirement, Wes served for over 20 years as a volunteer for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and drew sketches of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes that were used on note paper and T-shirts.

Wes was a Renaissance man. He was an avid gardener, and loved music and drama. He and Norma attended the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera, and the Goodman Theater. They traveled widely, both in the United States and Europe. Wes played the piano, enjoyed photography, and read extensively, collecting a large library.

The church was the focal point of their lives, however. Wes and Norma were active members of Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church in Oak Park, Illinois, where both sang in the choir. Wes used his artistic ability to design church bulletin covers, the logo of the church, banners, a paper mache crèche scene, and a cross and large butterfly that could be hung above the worship table.

Despite growing up in the parsonage and being active in the church all his life, Wes had not given a lot of thought to how or where ministers were trained until that lunch in July 1995. Myrta shared with Wes the joy she experienced in creating a scholarship at Garrett-Evangelical and getting to meet the scholarship recipients. A seed was planted.

Wes’ first gift to the seminary was a memorial gift to the Pfeiffer Scholarship in 1997 when Myrta passed away. Two years later Wes indicated he wanted to do something in memory of his parents, August and Elsbeth Wieting. He had already established a scholarship in his name at the Illinois Institute of Technology, his alma mater. Now he was ready to honor his parents and their years of ministry by establishing a scholarship in their names at Garrett-Evangelical. He established the scholarship with an initial gift of $43,975, and added to it each year until it grew to more than $115,000. He, too, experienced the joy of meeting his scholarship recipients when his niece, Shirley Benson, and her husband, Howard (a Garrett alum), brought him to the annual scholarship luncheons at the seminary.

Wesley Wieting passed away on March 16, 2007, at the age of 96. In April of that year the seminary learned that it was a beneficiary of his estate, and would receive a bequest in excess of $750,000 for the August and Elsbeth Wieting Endowed Scholarship.

Wes spent the majority of his career building schools and office buildings throughout the United States. In his death, he will be building future leaders for our churches and communities through several Wieting Leadership Scholarships. Garrett- Evangelical is deeply grateful to Wes Wieting for his faithful stewardship— and to Myrta Pfeiffer for inviting him to lunch in 1995.

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Ron and Sara King

King_Photo“Watch out for those Single Young Adult Groups,” Ron King cautions. “You may end up doing things you never planned!” Ron speaks from experience. While in the Army in Huntsville, Alabama, he was in a Single Young Adult Group when he decided to go to seminary. Having grown up in Granite City, Illinois, Garrett seemed a natural choice.

Ron also joined a Single Young Adult Group at First United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois, where he was introduced to Sara Newberg. “Sara and I knew one another for one and a half years before we first dated,” he says. “I guess we were checking out everyone else!” After awhile, however, the group disbanded—because Ron and Sara ended up marrying one another.

“At Howes Chapel, of course,” he notes. “Now that was a successful Single Young Adult Group,” he says with a chuckle.

Ron graduated from Garrett in 1965, and remains grateful for his seminary training to this very day. He still vividly recalls the day when he realized that hymns reflect the theology of the times in which they were written. “If you look at the theology of hymns, you can identify, reasonably closely, when the hymn was written. In hindsight, what else could they represent? Nonetheless, recognizing that surprised me.”

Upon graduating from seminary, Ron followed a different path than many seminary graduates. He went to work for IBM, a career that lasted until he retired in 1993. “Perhaps my Garrett education was not as directly applicable to my vocation as with most graduates. But I was an enlightened member of every congregation where I was involved,” he notes with a smile. “Indeed, I still believe that everyone should have at least two years seminary education.”

Ron and Sara have been faithful leadership donors for years and years. “We make gifts to Garrett-Evangelical because we are able to and because Sara’s parents showed us by example. Gifting benefits us more than we realize. We will continue to do so as long as we are able. We are grateful that we have the resources to do so.”

In addition to their annual leadership gifts, Ron and Sara have taken out four gift annuities with the seminary in recent years, for a total value of nearly a quarter of a million dollars—an arrangement that is especially attractive in today’s economic environment. The gift annuities guarantee them a nice return on their gifts for as long as they live—and they help ensure the future strength of Garrett-Evangelical. Ron and Sara have also included the seminary in their wills. Ron explains their reasoning: “We were once told by a financial planner that as parents we should spend our money on what we want rather than leave it to our kids, because we will not like the way they spend it. I would not go that far, but there is some truth to that. So that is why we have included Garrett- Evangelical in our wills.”

Ron and Sara are enjoying their retirement years, spending June through October in Minnesota with their three children and nine grandchildren. Then it is off to Florida until the weather is once again tolerable in Minnesota!

They also love to travel. Beginning in 2004 Sara, an avid quilter, organized groups of quilters to travel the world and meet quilters in each country. They continue to organize travel groups, and to travel on their own as well. Ron sums up their travel philosophy with these words: “We think travel is not only for our benefit to grow in knowledge about other cultures, but it is also to help the economy of many struggling countries on this beautiful planet.”

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