Not only did Perkins’ annual fundraising luncheon return to its usual in-person format in 2022 — the event was a rousing success. The Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon took place on March 17 in the Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom. (Last year’s event, with speaker David Brooks of The New York Times, took place virtually.)
“This was the most financially successful Bolin Family Scholarship Luncheon in the history of the series,” said John Martin, Director of Development for Perkins. “Every table was sponsored, and attendees were moved and inspired by the presentations.” Net proceeds of approximately $125,000 will support the Black/Africana Church Studies Program scholarship fund.
Highlights included a video tribute to Rev. Dr. Zan Holmes Jr., a presentation on the Black/Africana Church Studies Program (BACS) and a keynote delivered by Rev. Dr. Richie Butler.
Holmes (M.Th. ’59; M.S.T. ’68) was honored with a video tribute produced by Matt Jacob, Associate Director of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations. The video chronicled Holmes’ outstanding career as senior pastor of St. Luke “Community” UMC from 1979 to 2002.
In the video, Holmes shared a formative experience from early in his life when he happened upon an accident scene. A Black man had been hit by a car and was bleeding profusely. Two police officers and two white ambulance drivers stood by, without rendering aid.
“I asked one of the officers, ‘Why don’t y’all help him?’” he recalled. “It turned out they were waiting for the ambulance from the Black funeral home. I looked into the eyes of those two white policemen. I could tell they were bothered by what was happening. But they were bound by the racism that was going on at the time.”
While the four white responders stood by, the man died.
“I was driven by that event, and I will be challenged by it for the rest of my life,” said Holmes.
Holmes is known as an activist and community leader as much as he is a pastor. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1968-1972 and played a pivotal role in the desegregation of the Dallas Independent School District. As an associate professor of preaching at Perkins for 24 years, he has mentored many students and ministers. One of those was Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson (M.T.S. ’83, M.Div. ’89, D.Min. ’96). In the video, she recalled the first time she heard Holmes preach. “I walked into the church and saw this majestic man preaching, and it was over,” she said. “I had never heard preaching like that. He had charisma, energy, passion, knowledge of the Bible, interwoven with culture and history. I had never seen anything like that.”
Attendees were also treated to a video presentation on the BACS program. Launched in Fall 2021, the program critically explores Black theology, Black Biblical studies and interpretation, history, pastoral theology, preaching, worship, religious education, ethics and other practices in conjunction with African American, African and other African Diasporic churches, non-profit organizations, and social justice ministries through programs designed primarily to enrich the educational, cultural, and communal experiences of Black School of Theology, Doctor of Ministry and GPRS students as well as the broader SMU community.
Appearing in the video, Dean Craig C. Hill called the program “one of the most important initiatives launched during my time as dean at Perkins. It’s engaging Black students, faculty, alumni and church leaders for the purpose of strengthening innovative and impactful leadership.”
Dr. Abraham Smith, Professor of New Testament, noted the many challenges facing the Black community, including voter disenfranchisement and mass incarceration. “This is a program that is going to welcome everybody, and that is designed to help those marginalized voices have a place where their voices can be heard,” he said.
“We have a rich legacy at Perkins and a rich connection to black Methodism in this geographic area,” said Dr. Tamara Lewis, Director of BACS, “I feel the sky is the limit for BACS and we have wonderful days ahead.”
Butler, who is senior pastor of St. Luke “Community” UMC, spoke on the importance of the Black church. He cited instances in which the Black church has been foundational in moving the United States to be a more welcoming and just society.
A 1993 graduate of SMU, Butler serves on the Perkins and Dedman College Executive Board, the SMU Board of Trustees, the Communities Foundation of Texas board of trustees, the Dallas Assembly and the Real Estate Executive Council. He is founder of Project Unity, a collaborative effort to promote racial reconciliation in Dallas.
“The Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon is a highlight of the Perkins’ calendar every year, and this year was no exception,” said John Martin, Director of Development for Perkins.
In other fundraising news, on March 22, Perkins alumni/ae and supporters had the chance to participate in SMU Giving Day, a once-a-year, 24-hour philanthropic blitz that rallies Mustangs everywhere for one big day of fundraising for the entire university. Donors direct their donations to specific projects or programs within the university. This year’s event attracted almost 3,500 donations totaling more than $8 million for SMU. Donors who wanted to support Perkins had the opportunity to support four important Perkins initiatives on March 22: the Black/Africana Church Studies program, the General Student Financial Aid Fund, the Global Theological Education project, which raised funds to purchase equipment for the new Digitally Mediated Ministries Lab; and the Student Life Office of Perkins.