Garrett-Evangelical News

Garrett-Evangelical Graduates First HTIC Scholar!

VillalobosEvanston, IL, October, 2010 - Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary joyfully celebrated with Dr. Manuel Villalobos at his graduation on May 14, 2010. Villalobos’ graduation sets a milestone, as he is the first doctoral candidate to graduate with the accompaniment of the Hispanic Theological Initiative Consortium.

Garrett-Evangelical’s affiliation with the Hispanic Theological Initiative, beginning in 1996, stands within a long tradition of the seminary’s theologically based inclusivity. The Church and the Black Experience was instituted in 1970 and focuses on African American experience and ministry. In 1984, the Asian-American Ministries center was established to offer guidance and support to Asian and Asian American students. Four years later, the Hispanic/Latino/a Latin-American Center (HLA Center) was founded in order to bring Hispanic culture and experience into the life of the seminary. In addition, Garrett-Evangelical has continued to provide summer courses in Spanish for the United Methodist Course of Study program.

Dr. Nancy Bedford, a native of Argentina, is the Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology at Garrett-Evangelical and a steering committee    member for HTIC. In casting a vision for the HLA Center at Garrett-Evangelical, she states, “My own vision for the Center is primarily for it to be a space for the construction of theological knowledge that consciously takes into account the reality of Latinos and Latinas in the United States, and the reality of people in Latin America. My own work toward a ‘theology in migration,’ that is, a theology that is able to change and adapt to the demands of the present (‘migrate’) in dialogue with the traditions of the past, as well as to take seriously the phenomenon of migration, is an example of the kind of theological construction I mean.”

As part of this vision, the HLA Center hosted a panel discussion this October entitled, “A Grain of Truth.” Bedford explains: “We focused on the matter of food production and consumption as a site for theological reflection, since it touches on everything from economic justice and the distribution of wealth, to our practices of commensality in the footsteps of Jesus.” In particular, she explains, is a desire to present this from the Latino/a perspective, “we want to remind people that the food we eat every day is harvested largely by migrant farm workers, the majority of them not native to the United States and also that treatises such as NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) have had a profound effect on family farmers both South and North of the U.S.- Mexican border.”

Located just a few miles north of Chicago’s diverse Rogers Park neighborhood, students from Garrett-Evangelical are exposed to the realities of the United States’ growing diversity and the need for cross-cultural experiences. Many students fulfill their internship requirements serving at churches and community centers throughout the greater Chicago area. The city’s Hispanic/Latino/a community comprises 26% of the population and 9% of owned businesses. This growing community in Chicago is a constant reminder of the need to invest in educators and leaders who are capable of making an impact in Latino faith communities. Garrett-Evangelical remains hopeful that the partnership with HTIC will continue to train bold leaders for the academy, the Church, and the world.

Dr. Villalobos graduated from the doctor of philosophy program with a concentration in Bible and Culture. His dissertation was entitled, Abject Bodies in Mark’s Passion Narrative: A Butlerian Interpretation by a Mexicano del Otro Lado. In sharing about his experiences, Dr. Villalobos states, “I was fortunate to come to Garrett-Evangelical to find Dr. Osvaldo Vena, who was not just a mentor but a friend and supporter. It was here at Garrett-Evangelical where I started the painful process of recovering and embracing el ser y estar en el otro lado as something sacred. Thanks to Dr. Bedford, I begin to heal the historic wound that divides the Mexicanos del otro lado and Mexicanos de este lado...My dissertation and ideas migrated and crossed over to the English speaking world, thanks to the generous support of HTI.”

Garrett-Evangelical, founded in 1853, is a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 500 students from many denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical offers degrees for the master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.

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UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.