Hendricks Center Research Fellows looking at the camera

Natasha Browne and Dave Peters, both students at Dallas Theological Seminary in the master of theology program, are the distinguished recipients of the 2018-2019 William N. Garrison Faith-and-Work Fellowship.

Selected by Mr. Bill Hendricks, executive director for Christian Leadership, and Dr. Darrell Bock, executive director of Cultural Engagement and senior research professor of New Testament Studies, both Natasha and Dave “have an intense interest in how the church connects to the life of everyday people.”

The Faith-and-Work Fellowship

The William N. Garrison Faith-and-Work Fellowship was established by The Hendricks Center (THC) to give a ministry leader-in-training at DTS “firsthand and in-depth exposure to the everyday work world, along with a robust theology of work.” It is named in honor of the late Bill Garrison, an attorney, former DTS board member, and early advocate for the value and significance of lay ministry. The Hendricks Center honors Bill Garrison’s legacy because of his tireless advocacy for everyday Christians—people whom Paul calls “the saints” in Eph 4:12 and whose calling is to do “the work of service.”

The Garrison fellowship at THC is designed to acclimate future servant leaders to the workplace realities that congregants face in their everyday lives. It is intended to equip leaders so they will be natural in their teaching, leading, pastoring, and preaching to help those in the workforce draw upon all the resources of Christ in their vocation.

Natasha’s Journey

Although THC had already interviewed Natasha for another position, she left an impression that could not be ignored. Hendricks explains, “We knew at that time that we wanted her on the team, even though there were reasons we went with someone else. So when she applied for the Fellowship, we were elated. She fits our team well, and she has a deep interest in faith, work, and economics issues.”

Born in Quito, Ecuador, Natasha and her family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee after the Ecuadorian economy collapsed when she was only ten years old. Her parents also changed careers and they went from working in a corporate setting to serving full-time in ministry. A jarring experience that, despite growing up in the church and hearing truth, left her a little antagonistic toward the Christian faith. “It wasn’t until a mission trip to the Dominican Republic that God opened my eyes to [His] holiness [and] I was able to truly understand who God is and who I was in the presence of such holiness.”

Natasha had followed the Hendricks Center’s podcast, The Table, before she thought about attending DTS. “The Hendricks Center is a place that I have admired for a while. Tough conversations need to happen and difficult topics must be discussed in the light of Scripture with deep humility and sure expectancy that God, by the work of His Spirit, will show us how to respond with love and discernment to anything we face in our lifetime. I admire that THC is a place where that happens and [that] DTS is also a place where that is cultivated.”

After arriving home from a full day of classes, Natasha received the news of her new appointment. She explains, “This journey has been deeply humbling and at that moment all I could do was fall on my knees and praise God for His unexplainable care and love for me.”

Everything Natasha learns at THC she hopes to replicate later in ministry. “I don’t desire to keep this knowledge to myself, but ultimately make it available to those who desire more out of the Word of God because I’ve had that desire before attending seminary.”

Natasha attended college at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, earning a bachelor degree in Interior Architecture, and then moved to the Dallas area to be near family. “I knew that God wanted me to attend seminary but I thought that it would be much later in life. Though I knew about the seminary, I hadn’t realized that many of the authors that I regarded had graduated from DTS. I realized my first semester here that I was privileged to be among some of the best of the best.”

Natasha currently attends Fielder Church in Dallas, Texas, and has been married to Steve for almost three years. They have a daughter and two dogs. “Apart from my family, my nieces and nephew, I really love to travel and learn. I enjoy discovering new things whether through knowledge or being physically present in a new place.”

Dave’s Journey

THC invited Dave because of his interest. As an intern in THC, he absorbed just about everything. Bock explains, “Dave has interned with us and in the midst of that experience, his interest in the work space grew. He senses a real opportunity for growth in his pastoral understanding as a result of this experience.”

Dave grew up in a Christian home with parents who loved the Lord. As a child, he mistook religion for a relationship with Christ and in 2005 he came at a crossroad. Through a challenge of God’s existence and whether Christ was the way, he explored different perspectives of his faith and summarized it to a single prayer. “Initially, nothing happened, but one day during church, God’s spirit overwhelmed me. It was like all my emotions had been dialed up, but at the same time, I recognized I was loved in my brokenness. I realized that my sin separated me from having a relationship with God and through Christ I would be forgiven. I began to recognize him as Lord of my life.”

Spending time in THC during a dark time in his life changed Dave’s perspective. “The phrase ‘I hate myself or I dislike who I am’ had been a regular commentary.” He thought of the lessons THC had taught him and tied them together with Bible Exposition, Systematic Theology, and leadership classes. It turned into a real emotional appeal. “THC has helped [me] find clarity on self, giftedness, and leadership opportunities for me to both try out and learn. The journey was not easy, and by no means do I believe I have ‘arrived,’ but as I once heard ‘I am not yet where I want to be, but thanks be to God I am not where I used to be.’”

Friday chapel had just ended when he received a call from Hendricks notifying him of his acceptance. “Upon receiving the news, relief was my first feeling. I had been waiting in anticipation for this position and was wondering what path I would take had this not worked out.”

Dave has a desire to serve the church both locally and globally. “The more I discover about myself and my disposition, the more I feel I would be a good fit to serve the local body either internally, as pastoral staff, or externally, giving aid, perspective, and direction.”

After attending the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, Dave earned his bachelor degree in Social Work and then moved to Dallas to study at DTS. “I  grew up hearing about DTS most of my life through my dad who graduated from DTS in 1984 with a MACE. I felt the call to ministry and decided my next step was to be trained and knew DTS was one of the best for learning the Bible and theological perspectives.”

Dave is currently in a committed relationship and enjoys reading, watching movies, exploring festivals, finding new restaurants and coffeeshops, hiking, and exploring new cities through road trips.

For more information about The Hendricks Center, please visit the Hendricks Center webpage.