A specialist in youth ministry, Dr. Garner joined Olivet's full-time faculty in 2013. Teaching in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry, she teaches courses in family ministry, youth ministry, Christian faith and 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.
Dr. Garner comes to this teaching assignment with experience as half of a pastoral ministry couple. She and her husband, Kenneth, served on staff as associate pastors of Jackson First Church of the Nazarene in Jackson, Michigan, for over 20 years before returning to ONU. Her experience in multi-staff ministry and longevity of service poses 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-grandmothers were also ordained ministers. Being able to share these experiences and knowledge with students called to serve in the local church is her privilege.
Dr. Garner was ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene in 2009 after studying at the master's level at Nazarene Theological Seminary and finishing the course of study requirements. In June of 2018 she earned her D.Min. in practical theology with a specialization in youth, family and culture from Fuller Theological Seminary. The classes and the writing have challenged her thinking on the purpose and mission of the Church.
She enjoys speaking and preaching to teenagers, emerging adults, families, youth pastors, leaders, pastors and churches, sharing the vision of adoptive youth ministry. Her mission is to bridge the gap between what has been and what could be in youth and family ministry.
As she prepares young adults to minister in local contexts, she also works to prepare churches and pastors for the transitions that need to take place in order to raise up the younger generations to see that the Church makes a difference in the lives of the community and the world.
Dr. Garner has served in local, district and global capacities with Nazarene Youth International (NYI) and has served as a delegate to the General Assembly NYI Convention several times.
She and Kenneth are the parents of a son, Tanner, and a daughter, Tate. Tanner is a 2014 ONU graduate and is currently living and working at Olivet as a resident director and assistant volleyball coach. Tate lives in Manteno, Illinois, and is an independent business consultant, working toward her dream of the rescue and healing of human trafficking victims. 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, also an ONU graduate, and her husband, Brendon, are the parents of the Garners' two grandchildren, Makenna and Cooper. Kenneth is the pastor at Manteno Church of the Nazarene.