A specialist in youth ministry, Professor Garner joined Olivet’s full-time faculty in 2013. She teaches courses in foundations of youth ministry, youth ministry in the local church, Christian formation, Christian faith and fundamentals of Christian ministry. She has served in some capacity of youth ministry since her junior high school days and has more than 30 years of volunteer and church staff experience.
She comes to this teaching assignment with experience as half of a couple on the same staff in pastoral ministry. She and her husband, Kenneth, served on staff as associate pastors of Jackson First Church of the Nazarene in Jackson, Mich., for 20 years before coming back to ONU. Her experience in multi-staff ministry and longevity of service poises her to mentor young men and women as they shape their philosophies of ministry.
She has been empowered by the church to raise up women in ministry as part of her Wesleyan heritage. Her maternal grandmother and paternal great-grandmother were also ordained ministers. Being able to share these experiences and knowledge with students called to serve in the local church is her privilege.
In 2008, Professor Garner completed her course of study for ordination and was ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene in 2009. She has also studied at the master’s level at Nazarene Theological Seminary and is currently in a doctoral program at Fuller Theological Seminary entitled 'Youth, Family, and Culture.'
She credits the youth group of Jackson First Church, also known as JaxNaz, for teaching her to “live simply so that others may simply live.” In 2012 and 2013, the youth led the church in raising more than $14,000 expanding the ministry of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and World Vision in the areas of Malawi and Ethiopia. They were recognized as a “Top Ten” church for the 30-Hour Famine to help end extreme poverty.
Through the generosity of World Vision and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, Professor Garner went on a study tour in Malawi, Africa, in August 2012. There, she saw the funds their church had raised being used to lift the village out of poverty: sending students to school, teaching villagers to farm, establishing a fish farm, and raising cattle and pigs.
Professor Garner has served in local, district, and global capacities with Nazarene Youth International (NYI) and was a delegate to the General Assembly NYI Convention in 2013.
In her leisure time, she challenges herself with running and has finished two half-marathons (13.1 miles each). Her goal is to run another half and full marathon(s) somewhere in between teaching and the end of her doctoral program.
She and Kenneth are the parents of a son, Tanner, a 2014 ONU graduate and a daughter, Tate, who is a current ONU student. The Garners also have a daughter, Mary, who became a part of their home during her high school years and is now forever a part of the family. Mary and her husband, Brendon, are the parents of the Garners’ two grandchildren, Makenna and Cooper. Kenneth is the youth pastor at Manteno Church of the Nazarene.