March 2023 News Perspective Online

Alumni Updates: March 2023

New Book by Kevin Brown

Dr. Kevin A. Brown (M.Div. ’15, D.Min. ‘21) recently lectured in Theodore Walker’s class with material from his new book, AND THE BEAT GOES ON: Towards A Sustainable Beloved Community (New Purpose, 2023.) According to its description, the book “is a way forward that builds on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a prescription for where we go from here. Pushing for a public policy that urges America to do what is moral and right for the common good of all people, to building communities with a liberative praxis that ensures sustainability, Kevin Brown sounds the clarion call for a constitutional amendment that guarantees an end to poverty. This book is for leaders at every level who are ready to work collectively so that all people thrive and flourish.” Brown is also the founder and co-executive director of New Purpose ( which is a 501(c) 3 committed to executing the work outlined in this book.

After Lung Transplant, Still Serving

Every weekend, the Rev. W. Gerald “Jerry” Neff (M.Th. ‘83; D.Min. ‘93) and his wife drive three hours from their home in Galveston, Texas, to Jasper, Texas, where he leads worship for the new United Methodist Church of the Pines. He is the volunteer pastor for a congregation of 60 members who decided to stay United Methodist and form their own worship community after their local churches disaffiliated. Neff is officially retired and had a double lung transplant less than a year ago but feels called to serve the new church. Read the Feb. 6 UM News story, “With new lungs, he leads a new church,” here.

Obituary: The Rev. Maynard Rolly Walker

The Rev. Maynard Rolly Walker (M.Th. ’79) died on February 19 at age 84. A Celebration of Life service was held February 24. He was ordained in the United Methodist Church as a Deacon and an Elder. Before he was called to the ministry, he taught high school algebra and geometry and coached football, basketball and track. He served a number of churches, including the Boyce charge in Alexandria, La.; Lakewood Drive UMC in Dallas; Waples Memorial UMC in Denison, Texas; and Trinity UMC in Ruston, La. After “retiring,” he would serve Alabama Presbyterian Church in Sibley, and Douglas UMC in Douglas. He received the J. Henry Bowden Preaching Award in 1999 in recognition of Outstanding Preaching on Moral Issues by the Louisiana Moral & Civic Foundation. Read his obit here.

Obituary: The Rev. Victor “Vic” Nixon

The Rev. Victor “Vic” Harmon Nixon (M.Th. ‘67) of Little Rock, Arkansas, died on February 21 following an extended illness. While attending Perkins, he served as a student pastor at Eustace, Payne Springs and Pickens Spur United Methodist Churches in the Texas Conference. After graduation, he served the United Methodist Church for over 40 years in congregations in Arkansas, with his final appointment as Senior Pastor of Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church (PHUMC) in Little Rock. He was also Associate Director of the North Arkansas Conference Council on Ministries and Director of Arkansas Cooperative Parish Ministries. He was a loyal member of the Hendrix College Board of Trustees and an active community volunteer. A public celebration of his life will be held on June 26 at 11 a.m. at PHUMC. Memorials may be made to the PHUMC Foundation Victor H. Nixon & Frances O. Nixon Endowment Fund or the Harmon and Louise Rankin Nixon Memorial Scholarship Fund at Hendrix College. Read his obit here and the story in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette here.

Obituary: The Rev. Sharon Kay Harrigill Strain

The Rev. Sharon Kay Harrigill Strain, (M.Div. ‘85) of Pflugerville, Texas, passed away on February 3 at age 77. Ordained as a United Methodist minister in 1985, she was a trailblazer: one the earliest female United Methodist ministers and the first female preacher to serve in most of her churches. She and her husband Bill Strain spent more than 25 years in churches in Texas, including Bristow, Staples, Kingsbury, Austin, Johnson City and Kerrville. “She will undoubtedly be remembered for her larger-than-life personality, her thick Southern accent, but most of all, her deep love and kindness,” according to the obituary. A celebration of life will take place at a future date. The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the animal rescue organization of one’s choice or to Heifer International. Read the obituary here.