Meet Austin Rinehart
Hometown: Sterlington, Louisiana
Home church: Noel Memorial United Methodist Church, Shreveport, Louisiana
Degree program: Master of Divinity
Other degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Centenary College of Louisiana
I’ve had many formative experiences in my life, but one of the more recent ones happened in the summer of 2012. I was selected as a fellow for the Fund for Theological Education. As per the requirements of the fellowships, I attended a conference in Nashville, Tennessee, with the other fellows for a four-day experience on the campus of Vanderbilt University. A wide array of theological backgrounds and a diversity of denominations were represented within this group, including United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Roman Catholic, and non-denominational as well. Being in the presence of such great minds and great theological conversations really brought home the understanding of the Body of Christ. We might not all think alike, look alike, love the same persons, or profess the same faith, but we all are united under the love and grace of God. For someone like me, who loves interdenominational and interfaith dialogue, this was a mountain top experience that allowed me to encounter something I am very passionate about in a tangible way.
Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical:
When looking towards seminary, I narrowed down my search to two United Methodist schools, Garrett-Evangelical being one of those. I ultimately chose Garrett-Evangelical because of its commitment to social justice, progressive theology, and a deep concern for the student. From the very first moment I stepped on campus, I felt at home. I felt connected in a way that I did not feel at other schools I visited. I was instantly attracted to the wonderful professors, challenging curriculum, and interactive classroom experiences. I can fully say with confidence that Garrett-Evangelical has been everything I was hoping and wishing for in a seminary experience.
Plans for the future:
I feel a deep connection and call back to my conference, the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church. I really feel like God is calling me to be a leader there and to be an agent of change. Our conference is doing some wonderful things, and with a new episcopal leader, Bishop Cynthia Harvey, it is positioned for the future. I feel called to play a crucial part in that future. I am currently a certified candidate for the elder track, and I plan to be ordained as soon as I finish my time here at Garrett-Evangelical.