Alum Stories

Alum Mentorship: J.R. Green and Dr. Sunny Lopez

JR Green
J.R. Green, Master of Pastoral Care and Counseling Student

When J.R. Green saw the email describing Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary’s new vocational networking program, he knew it was an opportunity he didn’t want to miss. Green, who had gone to Wheaton College for his undergraduate degree and North Park University for a master of divinity, said that he hadn’t been able to talk with people in his field while at college or seminary.

“I realized that this was a way to connect with someone and have a conversation about my career and how things were going, so I applied,” he said. “I knew from my previous experiences that this was a great opportunity.”

Sunny Lopez
Dr. Sunny Lopez (G-ETS 1987), President of Bethany Methodist Communities

Since then, he and his mentor, Dr. Sunny Lopez, (G-ETS 1987) president of Bethany Methodist Communities in Chicago, have met several times for coffee and lunch. Green said he uses these meetings to talk about what is going on in his life and how his seminary program is progressing. “It’s great to talk with someone who listens and who knows what it is like to be in seminary,” said Green, who plans to be a licensed therapist after graduation. Green said he especially appreciates his mentor’s encouragement and perspective. “It’s been good to confirm the direction I’m going,” he said.

Lopez said that what she likes best about the program is being able to hear and affirm her mentee’s story and journey of faith. “At the beginning, I wanted to hear his story – how he got to Garrett-Evangelical and what was his call,” she said. “Then, we started talking about his curriculum and his classes and how that was impacting his thinking and theological views and sense of call.” While at Garrett-Evangelical, Lopez found that her call was to pastor and counsel the elderly, and that is what she has been doing for the last 30 years, first with the United Methodist Homes and Services and then later with the Bethany Methodist Communities.

Before she became a mentor in this program, she was an advisor and adjunct faculty member in Garrett-Evangelical’s Vocational Formation and Church Leadership Program. Just as she was ending that affiliation, she received the email from Rev. Katye Chambers, introducing the new mentoring program at Garrett-Evangelical.

“I have always enjoyed working with the students, and I thought this would be a way to continue that work,” she said.

So far, Lopez considers the mentee/mentor relationship a mutually rewarding experience, and she recommends it to other alums. “In addition to helping students with their calling, the alums will continue to learn more about their own call and their own journey,” she said.