Meet James Hofert
Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling
What is your hometown and educational background?
I grew up in Mount Prospect, a small bedroom community in suburban Chicago. My religious understanding was defined by a small community Baptist Church. In 1972, I left for Grinnell College, a liberal arts college in central Iowa. Upon graduating from Grinnell, I attended law school at Kent College of Law in Chicago. I became a partner at my first law firm after four years of practice and ultimately became managing partner of a 35-lawyer law firm. In 1995, I joined the law firm of Henshaw and Culbertson. As a senior capital partner, I tried cases all over the country. I also published and gave national presentations. My son Matthew was born in 1986. He seemed to be in his own world more often than not. Matthew’s differences from those who are neural-typical became more pronounced as time went on, resulting in bullying, parent-teacher conferences, and confusion. Matthew gave me the insight and stimulus to question my connections to those ideologies, institutions, and people that previously had reflected my life. I began to question the importance of fitting into my societal milieu, values that I’d held for years, and what faith in Christ was really about. During this time, daughter Caitlin also arrived. She was beautiful, sensitive, and a gift from God. Caitlin didn’t talk until she was three. Although extremely smart, Caitlin never really fit into a river for society. Unfortunately, that same society does not suffer differences well. My children are my heroes. Matthew has overcome Asperger’s syndrome to become a computer programmer with a major corporation. My daughter seeks to fight a series of progressive and incurable disease syndromes. She does this with courage, serving on the Board of Directors of Sarah’s Inn, in association with assisting those who are subject to domestic violence as well as being an active volunteer with the organization. During the last 10 years, I’ve had a number of God sightings. Those experiences, along with the Holy Spirit, led me to Garrett-Evangelical.
How has your time at Garrett-Evangelical shaped your ministry and calling?
On the first night of student orientation, we were told that every core belief we had would be challenged. We were told that all of the truths that we had held for years would be turned upside down. I was a little shell shocked after the sermon and wondered what I had gotten myself into. I commented to my student advisor after my first semester, how utterly blind and naïve I was as a human being. I remember being in theology with Rev. Dr. Stephen Ray, wanting to hide underneath the table. For the first time in my life, white privilege became an ugly reality. Seminary brought poverty, dehumanization, marginalization, racism, sexism, and every other -ism into my reality.
What is your most transformative experience at Garrett-Evangelical?
I’ve had so many transformative experiences at Garrett-Evangelical that I could go on for pages. I remember during my CPE experience at Northwestern, baptizing a pre-mature infant, in the process of dying, with his mother’s tears; holding a man suffering from AIDS, who had just had his partner turn on him and publish nude photographs on the Internet; lying on the floor next to a woman who just lost her husband to gun violence. How could I not be changed? Garrett-Evangelical opened my eyes to reality. It expanded my knowledge and opened my heart. It provided me with perspective. It took my finite existence and demonstrated the infinite love of God.
What are your plans or your hopes for your future?
I’ve decided to take a fellowship with the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy. I want to center my mission on psychotherapy among those who simply can’t afford it. I’m going to make this coming year one of discernment. I’ve spent a lifetime planning my future and now seek to have the Holy Spirit provide my pathway.