News November 2021 Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Updates: November 2021

Leslie Stewart Named to New Post

The Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle, has called the Rev. Leslie Stewart (M.Div. ’14) to serve as missioner for congregational vitality-new communities for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Stewart most recently served as church planter and then as vicar of Resurrection Church in Plano, Texas since 2016. She will begin her new position November 1. “Stewart’s firsthand passion and compassion for the innovative work of the church will be a gift to us all,” Doyle said. The Mission Amplification team is charged with the support and coaching of 154 existing congregations, twelve churches planted in the past four years, six campus mission hubs, and fourteen other campus missions. The team continues to plant new congregations and missional communities and expand to additional campuses. Read the announcement here.

Jessica Wright Profiled

The Rev. Jessica Wright (M.Div. ’09), associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, was recently profiled in the Allen American newspaper. “I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to be a positively impact the lives of others,” she said. “In 2019, I led a community study of how to have grace-filled political conversations, which feels more and more relevant. I’ve held the hands of the dying and baptized babies who still smell like heaven. I’ve accompanied police officers as they notified a family of a tragedy and received the remains of fallen airmen on the tarmac. I’ve talked about God in the middle of the night with college students and navigated ‘big Baylor’ at 4 a.m. to pray with a person before surgery. I helped a high school student create a ministry to feed people experiencing homelessness and sold hundreds of pumpkins to raise money for disaster relief. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to love God and love neighbor.” Read the profile here.

New Book by Perkins Alum

Shirley Wallace Reaves (M.Div., 2001) has published a new book, Eternity is Here (eBooks2go, 2021). The book “will transform your life and the way you think about eternity as you discover God’s message of love, grace, forgiveness, salvation and hope during these unprecedented times,” according to a press release from the publisher. Reaves presents a concept she calls “soul insurance” and explains the importance of preparing for eternity in heaven by how we live our lives. She writes: “Eternity is here for someone because someone died today. Eternity may not be here for you today, but one day it will be. Are you ready for eternity with confidence and assurance?” View the publisher’s announcement here and the trailer here.

Retiring Alum Featured

The Rev. Margo S. Vestal (M.Div., 2003) retires from full time ministry this year after serving 20 years in churches in Oklahoma, including Moore First United Methodist Church, Broken Bow United Methodist Church, Eagletown United Methodist Church, Sayre United Methodist Church, Sunnylane United Methodist Church and Weatherford United Methodist Church. Vestal is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Read the story in the Duncan Banner here.



Parenting with Perspective

The Rev. Kim Meyers (M.A.M. ’15) was recently interviewed on WFAA-TV in Dallas about her new book, Parenting with Perspective (Invite Press, October 2021).  Meyers is associate pastor of family ministry and community outreach at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano. Watch the video segment here.



Jim Bankston Honored

The Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston (M.Th. ’74 and a member of Perkins Executive Board) was honored on October 27 at the Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston 2021 Tapestry Gala. This year’s event honored three long-time Interfaith Ministries supporters: Tapestry Award honoree Paula S. Sutton, Spirit of Respect honoree Bankston, and Corporate Champion honoree Sysco. Interfaith Ministries brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration, and service, as a demonstration of their shared beliefs. The event raised funds for the programs of Interfaith Ministries, including Meals on Wheels/Animeals; Refugee Services; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships; and Volunteer Houston.

Obit: Shirley Matthews

Shirley Wittman Matthews (Master of Christian Education, 1957) passed away October 1 at the age of 91.  As a young person, Matthews worked as a volunteer at the Methodist Home in Waco, was an officer of the Central Texas Methodist Conference Youth Council and served as a counselor in Methodist youth camps. She met her husband, Virgil Matthews, at Perkins.  She served as Minister of Christian Education for First Methodist Church, Jacksonville, Texas, and later was chair of the Art Department at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville for two decades. She was a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Midland, Texas. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to United Methodist Committee on Relief ( A memorial service was held October 13 at Nalley-Pickle & Welch Chapel. A graveside service will be held at a later date at the Colfax Cemetery in Colfax, Texas. Read the obituary here.