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Traveling Call

Loyola Magazine

by Gary Adornato

In 1971 Joel Freeman, MS ’86, quit school, stuck out his thumb and began an amazing journey.

The road traveled is paved with incredible ironies and experiences. He is an accomplished authorbusiness consultant,  and devout Christian who for 19 years has served as Team Chaplain for NBA’s Washington Wizards (formerly the Bullets). Recently, he published his fourth book, Return to Glory: The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man, in which Freeman, a white man, and co-author Don Griffin, a black businessman, trace the "forgotten" African heritage a black people and outlines their "return to glory."
Nestled among these experiences is Loyola College, where Freeman stabilized a somewhat nomadic existence while earning a Master of Science in Counseling.

Freeman’s professional and spiritual lives are indiscernible and intertwined. It has been that way since 1872 when he experienced a spiritual awakening.

"I can remember the exact moment – September 10, 1972," says Freeman. "It was a miraculous conversion that filled me with an incredible love for people and a hunger to study the Bible. I opened my heart to Jesus and committed my life into His hands."

Clearly a turning point, but Joel Freeman’s life was firmly entrenched in God’s palm long before that fateful day.



After quitting school, Freeman ran from what he believed to be a restrictive home life in Canada. He grew long hair, experimenting with drugs, slept nights by the side of the road, and often hitched rides hundreds of miles to no particular destination for no particular reason.

God was not a factor in his life at this point. The few times he attended church services, he was stoned. Then, on that September evening in 1972, he returned sober, and the experience changed his life. He enrolled in bible school and later founded a church in Friendship, ME, which grew to over 200 parishioners in less than two years. In 1977, Freeman moved to Baltimore, started another church and then moved to Columbia, MD.

Eventually his church purchased an old religious complex and converted it into the church community, Stillmeadow Christian Fellowship.

In 1979, Freeman was asked by Washington Bullets players Elvin Hayes and Kevin Porter to become the team’s first chaplain. Some years later he started a business-consulting firm, The Freeman Institute, which offers team building, leadership, cultural diversity and organizational development initiatives for corporations, government agencies, leaders of foreign nations, and churches. Everything was going well. But he was struggling with his professional counseling skills. This led to a search for help, which eventually brought him to Loyola.

"I had been told about a new Pastoral Counseling program at Loyola and after visiting with its director, Barry Estadt, I realized it could help me," said Freeman.

There was just one problem. This was a graduate program and Freeman’s only academic credentials were a bible school diploma and a G.E.D., obtained just so he could tell his children that he had finished high school. Estadt, called by Freeman an "absolute visionary," took a chance, accepting Freeman into the program on a provisional basis in 1983. Freeman excelled and graduated in 1986.

"Loyola’s program stretched me both personally and professionally," Freeman says. "I learned a great deal of the theoretical side of counseling, but there is much more to it. Being a good counselor is something that is caught, not taught. My teachers at Loyola understood this and the supervisory part of the program was geared to allow this to happen."

In Return to Glory, Freeman is once again wandering down an uncharted path. It is believed to be the first book of this particular approach, co-authored by a black man and a white man. The book provides a road map to wholeness, demonstrating how black men and women can "return to glory through a strong faith in God, resolve, education, family loyalty and just plain hard work."

The book’s foreword was written by basketball legend Julius Erving and it has been hailed by entertainer Bill Cosby. Currently, a film project based upon the book is in development.

Gary Adornato, principal of Adeas Communications, is a frequent contributor to Loyola Magazine and also writes about club sports in this issue.

--Gary Adornato, Loyola Magazine – Spring 1998


I would like to see RETURN TO GLORY as a film.

Seminar Program: "The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man"


"Dealing  With  People  Who  Drive  You  Crazy!"®
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