Garrett Named Rev. Jerry W. Paul CHHSM Scholar

Jamel Garrett has seen first-hand the gaps in health care that force many people to fend for themselves. As the 2015 Rev. Jerry W. Paul CHHSM Scholar, he wants to help change that.

“I’ve seen the pitfalls with health care,” said Garrett, who is pursuing his Ph.D in theology, ethics and human services at Chicago Theological Seminary. “I’ve seen services that I’ve considered necessary that weren’t provided because people didn’t have the resources.”

Formerly known as the CHHSM Scholar program, the initiative was recently renamed to honor the work and legacy of the Rev. Jerry W. Paul, who died in May at age 65. Paul served as a CHHSM board member and former president and CEO of CHHSM member Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis.

The Rev. Bryan Sickbert, CHHSM’s former president and CEO, said attaching Paul’s name to the scholar program is especially fitting.

“If Jerry Paul was passionate about anything, it was developing talented leaders for the health and human service institutions of the UCC,” Sickbert says. Paul himself was a recipient of the CHHSM Fellowship in Health and Human Service Management, a program supported by CHHSM hospitals in the 70’s and 80’s and a precursor to the current CHHSM Scholar Program.

“I know Jerry would be pleased to have this work continue in his name,” Sickbert says.

The program recognizes promising students who are pursuing graduate work in theology, social work, health services or nonprofit management and express a call to lead in faith-based organizations that focus on health and human services. The recipient receives broad exposure to CHHSM ministries, mentoring support, an internship and a scholarship.

“The purpose of the scholar program is to expose seminary students to ministry outside of a local congregational setting,” says the Rev. Danielle K. Bartz, CHHSM program associate. “We want to offer experiences and education that a seminarian may not get during their theological education. Our hope is that they will complete their time as a scholar and have a broader understanding of the many different forms of ministry and perhaps be willing to enter into the faith-based nonprofit world.”

For Megan Culbertson Hoxhalli, who preceded Garrett as CHHSM Scholar, the experience helped her build skills she now uses with The Night Ministry in Chicago, where she helps forge connections with congregations across the city to provide an array of health and human services. The Night Ministry works with people experiencing homelessness and poverty with a health outreach bus staffed by a nurse practitioner, social worker and outreach ministers. The organization works in partnership with some 300 churches and congregations of all denominations.

“Being a CHHSM Scholar helped me put my education into practice,” says Hoxhalli, who earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago and continues to pursue a master’s in divinity from the Chicago Theological Seminary. “It helped me think of myself as a professional in health and human services and how to operate and work collaboratively within a faith-based organization.”

Hoxhalli says she likes her role helping to broaden the impact of congregations.

“It’s important for churches to get outside their walls and make relationships and serve their communities,” she says.

Garrett, the current scholar, says he hopes the program will help him learn more about both the health care system and how to improve access for people with limited resources.

“I want to be able to be a stronger advocate for the health care services they need,” he says. “I want to know whose feathers to ruffle.”

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