Meet Kamaca Champion
Master of Arts in Christian Education
Kamaca Champion is a first year Master of Arts in Christian Education student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She was born in Chicago’s Lawndale community and currently resides in the Morgan Park community on the far south side. After high school, Kamaca made her way to the University of Illinois at Chicago where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
Amidst her upbringing and formative years, Kamaca felt drawn to the Christian faith through “Jesus’ availability and God’s equipping nature.” A cherished scripture throughout her faith journey has been Deuteronomy 30:11-14. In this scripture, Moses tells his community that the commands given from God are not too mysterious, complicated, or distant to follow. In verse 14, Moses says: “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”
Kamaca related with the people Moses spoke to in Deuteronomy. She believed that God was too distant and difficult to follow, leaving her feeling fearful, ill-equipped, and unwelcome. But an inherent longing and desire to know God, and to be known by God, kept her eyes, ears, and heart open to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Gradually, Kamaca began to realize that what she believed about God, and about herself in relationship with God, came from what she had been taught from others. Even well-meaning people left her grappling with the baggage of shame, distrust, and confusion.
A turning point for Kamaca came when a friend patiently listened to her tears and questions and simply pointed her to the Bible. Her friend encouraged her to read the Bible and listen to what the Holy Spirit was teaching her about herself and her relationship with God. Through her reading and learning, with the Holy Spirit as her primary teacher, Kamaca’s eyes were opened to a simplicity in relating with God the Father. Once the expectations and misconceptions of approaching God were stripped away, Kamaca found herself in direct relationship and communication with God. As a result of her struggles with learning how to communicate with God, Kamaca experienced a desire to work in biblical literacy. She experienced a call to work as an advocate and fellow sojourner with church communities to support freedom and meaningful engagement with God.
While her call was now clear, Kamaca again experienced the impact of external influences and unbalanced interpretations on her discernment journey. These external influences overcomplicated her God-given desire to minister. But through the labor of these challenges, a ministry vision of making faith-practice personal, practical, and accessible, was birthed. This ministry vision led Kamaca to explore a seminary education to learn tangible tools and examples of how to advance this mission.
Kamaca visited Garrett’s website and saw faces that looked like hers in the student profiles, just like this feature! She was inspired by this experience, but she was not yet confident in her call to seminary. Full of questions and a need for discernment, Kamaca “enrolled in lay Bible study programs and participated in local church discipleship ministries.” Through this intentional discernment and discipleship, Kamaca confidently reached out to Jillian Barker-Langford in the Office of Admissions. Jillian connected Kamaca with Rev. Katie Fahey, director of admissions and recruitment, for a time of conversation, discernment, and sharing stories. In that meeting, Rev. Fahey prayed for Kamaca, affirmed her calling, and encouraged her to apply. Kamaca felt supported throughout the application process, noting that Rev. Fahey cheered with her when Kamaca’s application was officially submitted. Kamaca experienced life-giving ministry in her time with the Office of Admissions that allowed her to flourish and “step-out on faith.”
Since joining the Garrett community, Kamaca has been introduced to refreshing new perspectives and wholistic approaches to theology and community. While she noted that it is an over-used superlative, “blown away” is the most accurate way to describe Kamaca’s sentiment toward her time at Garrett.
One particularly memorable moment was during the opening Convocation of student orientation. Not only was it a beautiful service, but it was a time that helped Kamaca feel connected with the Garrett community. Every orientation activity built upon the last, creating a holistic and welcoming experience! And during her first week of classes, she was thrilled to hear that one of her professors, Professor Elina Rodríguez, planned to meet one-one-one with every student. Kamaca also felt supported by having a discernment companion through Garrett’s peer mentor program.
Kamaca is grateful for the intentional care and support she has experienced during her short-time at Garrett. She was surprised at how quickly she has experienced aspects of community. While community has often been a space of resistance within her faith, Kamaca has been happy to find community as a potential catalyst for positive development at Garrett. For example, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience and the Black Student Orientation program was immensely helpful in anchoring her community and providing a practical introduction to graduate academic studies. She finds hope in the practical experience of engaging with students and faculty from all over the world during a time of physical isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hearing the hopes and dreams of her cohort, Kamaca has been touched by God’s provisions for the future of the church and society.
Kamaca looks forward to experiencing more of her first semester at Garrett and plugging even more into the Garrett community. Garrett has sparked her curiosity and Kamaca feels like a sponge ready to absorb! As a new student, Kamaca is excited to expand her theological understandings, to grow spiritually, and to develop a solid body of scholarly resources to help share, serve, and advance the gospel message of Jesus Christ.