Distinguished Alums 1995
"Twenty years ago this month, Charlene Kammerer earned her MDiv from Garrett-Evangelical; three years earlier she had been awarded the Master in Christian Education degree. Since her seminary days Charlene has become a clergywoman of 'firsts'. She was the first ordained woman to be appointed to a church in Florida, the first woman District Superintendent in Florida, and the first woman to be a Senior Pastor with a clergywoman Associate Pastor. Charlene's leadership skills are outstanding. She has endeared herself to several congregations and to the entire Tallahassee District during her six-year service as their Superintendent. She has demonstrated excellence in preaching, administration, pastoral care, and commitment to the global mission of the United Methodist church. Charlene has unique and remarkable gifts for both consolation and confrontation. She empowers the laity in refreshing ways and never hesitates to sacrifice her own time and resources to serve the needy. And, in the midst of all this, Rev. Kammerer became Dr. Kammerer when she earned her DMin from United Seminary. Charlene models inclusiveness in a world where sides are quickly chosen. Her chairing of the Legislative Committee, Faith and Order, at the 1992 General Conference was a demonstration of her ability to bring people into a circle of hope. Today, Dr. Kammerer is Senior Pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Tallahassee. In addition she serves as Chair of the United Methodist Committee on Relief for the general Board of Global Ministries. The exceptional leadership exemplified by Charlene Kammerer makes her a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Alum Award for 1995." Citation by Phyllis Beattie.
"Jim Ridgway, one of the alums who received the Distinguished Alum award at commencement, is an authentic and gifted human being, committed to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Upon his graduation from Garrett Biblical Institute in 1956, Jim served parishes in the Florida Conference, but never let go of his dream of providing firsthand experiences in the Holy Land to Christian clergy and laity. In 1973, he created and established and enterprise called Educational Opportunities, a non-profit tax-exempt organization that offers travel programs to seminarians, clergy, laity, and sometimes to whole congregations. Since 1973, more than 200,000 persons have traveled under Educational Opportunities' auspices to the Holy Land, deepening their understanding of biblical texts through the highly qualified guides, interpreters, lecturers and teachers whom Jim has trained and brought into his programs. Jim has been a bridge builder between the leaders and peoples of Israel, Palestine, and other Arabic peoples. He is respected and trusted by the leaders and people of both and has been awarded singular honors and tributes by both. But more dreams inspired Jim Ridgway. He next founded The Center for Biblical Studies in Jerusalem, which offers advanced studies in classroom and field visitation to important archaeological sites, and The Seminarian's Seminar, a generously subsidized three week program for selected students from theological schools. This program has impacted the lives of over 6,000 students. James Ridgway's ministry has exemplified the byword of his organization. 'We are in the business of changing lives.' It is Garrett-Evangelical's privilege to honor this minister of vision, courage, and dedication." Citation by Phyllis Beattie.