Meet a Graduate

June 03, 2013

Kevin Gardner (M.Div. '13)

On May 23rd, Westminster celebrated its 84th Commencement with 106 students graduating with various degrees. One of those graduates, Kevin Gardner, will be heading to Florida to begin work for Ligonier Ministries as the Associate Editor of Tabletalk magazine.  We sat down with him to briefly discuss his time at Westminster and the work he will be doing for Ligonier.

Kevin and Katie Gardner
Kevin and Katie Gardner

What brought you to Westminster?
For undergrad, I went to Penn State and majored in Journalism. I became a Christian about a year after I graduated and moved here to the Philadelphia area about a year later. Shortly after I moved here, I started leaning more Reformed [in my theology], and I felt a call to go to seminary. So, I looked into ones in the area, and Westminster jumped out immediately as being solidly academic but also Reformed. That was a long time ago that I decided to go to Westminster; I wasn’t able to make it happen for a long time and eventually started coming here five years ago, nearly full-time. I came here after working in newspapers for 7 or 8 years.

What jumps out to you as you reflect on the last 5 years at Westminster?
One of the things I have appreciated about Westminster is that they tell you what they believe, and they teach you that. They will expose you to other things, but they say that “this is what we teach here,” and they are unapologetic about it. You don’t have to agree with them, but you then have to defend what you believe. So, I appreciated that. It’s not wishy-washy, you’re not getting a sort of education where “you can think this, or you can think that.” Everything fits together across the different departments. This is the system that they teach, and they teach it well for that reason. They expose you to controversies and difficulties and things like that, but they always come down to the fact that God has revealed himself in history and in his Word, and that he can be trusted. I really appreciated that.

Describe the job you’re taking with Ligonier Ministries.
I will be Associate Editor of Tabletalk magazine, which is their monthly devotional magazine. As part of that, they have articles based on a monthly theme and they come from big pastors and theologians around the world, so [I will be] soliciting and editing those contributions. I’ll also be doing some writing for the website and probably devotionals at some point. The Tabletalk staff is also the editorial services team for Ligonier, so basically any written material that the ministry produces comes out of or goes through editorial services: all the blogs, social media, books, Reformation Study Bible, and things like that.

Would you say it’s a great mesh between your journalism degree and your time at Westminster?
It’s actually been pretty providential, and my wife and I have marveled at the way that the Lord has worked this out. I chose to major in journalism kind of on a whim. I was an art major at the time and I didn’t think that I could get a job in that after college, so I was wondering what I was going to change my major to. I was actually editing a friend’s paper, and I thought “maybe I could do this!” So I did [journalism], but I thought I was going to be done with it when I came to Westminster. The Lord made it work out that I would be able to serve his people as a result of this decision made on a whim back when I was in college, and also use the things that I’ve learned at Westminster. We are very humbled and awed by the way that God worked this stuff out.

What would you say to someone who is just coming to seminary, how would you encourage them?
Take their time. I hear about people doing [their degree] in three years, but I can’t imagine doing that. I did it in five, it was originally going to be four, then I thought I’d push it out to six, and then I brought it back to five.

I was in full-time ministry the whole time I was going to school, working for Young Life. As hard as that’s been, I think something I would encourage somebody coming to seminary to do is to be involved in ministry. Otherwise, you can get completely lost in the clouds with the stuff that you’re learning. When you’re doing things the whole time you’re there, it gives you a chance to work through the things you’re learning: how does it affect me, how does it affect other people, what are the implications? So I think it enhances your education, but also makes you more effective in ministry.