Started UPSem 2003: Rev. Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (MDiv 2008)

  1. Started UPSem 2002: Rev. Lori Raible (MDiv 2006)
  2. Started UPSem 2003: Rev. Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (MDiv 2008)
  3. Started UPSem 2004: Rev. Nadine Ellsworth-Moran (MDiv / MACE 2011)
  4. Started UPSem 2005: Rev. Noe Juarez-Loayza (MDiv 2010)
  5. Started UPSem 2006: Rev. Lorenzo Small (MDiv 2013)
  6. Started UPSem 2007: Rev. Ken Fuquay (MACE 2011 / MDiv 2015)
  7. Started UPSem 2008: Rev. Jonathan Davis (MDiv 2014) 
  8. Started UPSem 2009: Rev. British Hyrams (MDiv/MACE 2016)
  9. Started UPSem 2010: Rev. Charmaine Smith (MDiv 2017)
  10. Started UPSem 2011: Rev. Vikki Brogdon (MDiv 2016)
  11. Started UPSem 2012: Rev. Dr. Doug Harr (MDiv 2018)
  12. Started UPSem 2013: Martin Pruitt (MDiv 2018 / MACE 2019)
  13. Started UPSem 2014: Rev. William Joseph “Joey” Haynes III (MDiv 2019)
  14. Started UPSem 2015: Rev. Gail Henderson-Belsito (MDiv 2020)
  15. Started UPSem 2016: Rev. Eric Tang (MDiv 2021)
  16. Started UPSem 2017: Rev. Marina Luckhoo (pursuing MDiv)
  17. Started UPSem 2018: Jason Smith
  18. Started UPSem 2019: Ryan Atkinson
  19. Started UPSem 2020: Sedae Slaughter (pursuing MACE)
  20. Started UPSem 2021: Matt Wiedle (pursuing MDiv and MACE)

The following is part of a series of 20 profiles that represent each year that Charlotte has been enrolling students. 

Chief Community Wellness and Health Equity Executive
Novant Health
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (MDiv 2008) was born in Detroit, Michigan. After her father died when she was young, she moved into Detroit’s inner city with her mother, brother, and sister. Eventually, they all relocated to North Carolina to be closer to her mother’s family. Graduating from North Carolina Central University, she entered medical school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Garmon-Brown moved to Charlotte to begin a family practice residency at Charlotte Memorial Hospital in 1980. Since completing her residency in the early 1980s, she has held numerous roles at Novant Health. High on her list of vital roles are those of proud mother of two adult children and loving grandmother of three grandchildren.

An American Baptist by heritage, Garmon-Brown had not considered attending seminary nor ordained ministry as an additional vocation. However, she co-chaired Novant Health’s ethics department for more than two decades with Rev. Dr. David Scott Lindsay. Lindsay is a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary’s northern campus in Richmond, Virginia. After years of working together, Lindsay asked her if she had considered going to seminary. Garmon-Brown said no, but clearly, his question opened a door of possibility that Garmon-Brown did not realize was there, a doorway she eventually walked through.

UPSem’s Charlotte campus was the reason seminary proved possible for Garmon-Brown. Throughout seminary and after graduation, she has continued to work full-time as a physician, so UPsem Charlotte’s offering of part-time and weekend courses afforded her the opportunity to stay in Charlotte and enroll at the seminary while working for Novant Health. It is that flexibility for its students that proves one of the Charlotte campus’s strengths, Garmon-Brown contends. Another strength Garmon-Brown highlights is the seminary’s rich history and deep reservoirs of knowledge. Studying there, she says, “transformed me into a much more diverse person.” She continued: “The seminary is much, much more than a place to learn about religions. Our seminary is a place to learn about love, diversity, inclusion, justice, and hope. Learning to think in a much more critical way was a tremendous gift from the seminary.”

After graduation, Garmon-Brown completed a pastoral residency training at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, eventually becoming one of the congregation’s associate pastors. Still working as a physician and a community advocate for improving access to good healthcare for all segments of society, she sees her work as a medical practitioner and a pastor as essential halves of a faithful whole. Together, they remind us that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbors as ourselves. “It is this reminder,” she declares, “that the world needs today.”