Dr. Fred Aquino

The inaugural William J. Abraham Memorial Lecture will take place Monday, Oct. 17 at 9:30 a.m. at Perkins Chapel, with Dr. Fred Aquino delivering the lecture and a reception following in the Blue Room in Bridwell Library. The program will also be livestreamed on YouTube; a recording will also be available after the event.

Bridwell Library (SMU Libraries) and Perkins School of Theology established the annual Memorial Lecture to bring a scholar to the SMU campus each year to engage in a topic related to Abraham’s work of the scholar’s choosing.

Dr. Abraham, 73, died suddenly in October 2021. He was the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins from 1995 until his retirement in May 2021. He joined the Perkins faculty on Sept. 1, 1985, as the McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism and the Philosophy of Religion under the leadership of then-Dean James Kirby and Provost Hans Hillerbrand. After retirement, he became Professor Emeritus of Wesley Studies.

“For almost four decades, Billy Abraham’s scholarship and commitment to excellence impacted the lives of countless Perkins students, colleagues, and others across the globe,” said Bruce D. Marshall, Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine at Perkins, who helped coordinate the lecture. “His death was a tremendous loss to Perkins and to the wider community. We hope this lecture will help keep alive the legacy of his rich, bountiful and prolific career.”

Dr. Aquino, a former student of Dr. Abraham, is Professor of Theology and Philosophy at the Graduate School of Theology, Abilene Christian University (ACU), and the director of the philosophy minor at ACU. He earned his Ph.D. in Religious Studies (with an emphasis in systematic theology) from Southern Methodist University in 2000. His lecture title is “William J. Abraham and John Henry Newman on Faith and Reason.” Newman (1801-1890) was an English theologian, scholar and poet and was an important and controversial figure in the religious history of 19th century England. Newman was canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church in 2019.

Bill Millard

Bill Millard, an SMU alum (B.A., ’78, J.D./MBA, ‘83) and a longtime member of Highland Park United Methodist Church, provided support for the lecture program. Millard faithfully attended the In His Steps adult Sunday school class that Abraham led; he has accumulated a collection of 10 journals full of notes he took at Abraham’s classes since 2002.

“Billy Abraham was an extraordinary man,” Millard said. “His teaching and preaching were mesmerizing and lifechanging. The combination of his great humor, his ability to inspire, his deep knowledge and his ability to offer historical perspectives – he was like no other preacher I’ve ever encountered. I wanted to be part of keeping the legacy of his views and his preaching alive.”

If you would like to attend the lecture, please RSVP to Rachel Holmes at rdwight@smu.edu. Please indicate if you will need parking.