Meet Leonard Gaines
Hometown: Syracuse, New York
Home church: Bethany Baptist Church, Syracuse
Degree program: Doctor of philosophy
Other degrees: Bachelor of science in electrical engineering (Prairie View A & M University); master of arts in social sciences (Binghamton University); master of divinity (Phillips Theological Seminary); doctorate in higher education (Oklahoma State University)
My call to ministry: My call to ministry was influenced by reading about the life of the Rev. Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., former pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, congressman, and civil rights leader. It was while reading his biography that I saw a man who was dedicated to eradicating racism, injustice, and social inequality in this nation. I wanted to be just like him in that he was used by God to effect change and to tear down barriers, often by unconventional means. Because I am passionate about areas that affect the lives of the poor and the disenfranchised, I have a particular concern about the moral issues of our day. This has led me to the study of theology and ethics.
Why I chose Garrett-Evangelical: I chose Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary for a variety of reasons. First, I was attracted to the mission statement of the seminary. It resonated with me and articulated beliefs that I could fully embrace. Second, I wanted to study under great thinkers such as Dr. Brent Waters and Dr. Stephen Ray. Reading their work provoked and challenged me. As a former assistant dean of institutional assessment, a major transition at this stage in my life required some critical decisions.
Two visits to the campus convinced me that this was the place God wanted me to be. Finally, because I have an interest in bioethics, the location of Garrett- Evangelical could not have been more strategically placed in its proximity to centers for bioethics in this geographical region.
What has surprised me: My experience at Garrett- Evangelical so far has truly gone beyond my expectations. What has particularly surprised me has been the rigor of the PhD program. There is a great amount of material to process in a short amount of time. Nevertheless, I have been challenged and stretched in my theology beyond imagination. I have found new colleagues who love God and who have compassion for the Church and the world. More important, I have found a place that is welcoming and that is aiding in my spiritual growth.
My future plans: I am drawn to teaching, chaplaincy, and the hospital setting, but, most important, I want to listen and be obedient and faithful to God’s call.