Rev. Dr. Charles Aaron, co-director of the Perkins Intern Program since 2017, passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 29. After undergraduate studies at Lambuth College and earning a Master of Counseling from Memphis State University, Chuck received his Master of Divinity from Perkins in 1985 and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Union Theological Seminary in 1996. He was an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, where he served as pastor at numerous churches over the years.
In addition to his wife, Sandra, he is survived by two sisters and their husbands, three nephews and one niece, and countless friends.
The Perkins community honored Chuck during a special service of remembrance Nov. 30. A celebration of Chuck’s life is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 5, at Oak Lawn UMC. If you have any photo memories of Chuck you’d like to share, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Oak Lawn UMC or the Coalition for Safe Spaces in Lebanon.
Priscilla Pope-Levison, Research Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins, wrote a blog post for The Pastor’s Workshop in which she discussed how churches can create a culture of testimony in their worship. Pope-Levison highlights the work of several churches that are part of cohorts in Testimony HQ, a Lilly Endowment, Inc.-funded initiative (for which she is co-principal investigator) that focuses on developing thriving congregations through the practice of testimony as community engagement.
Ruben L.F. Habito, Professor of World Religions and Spirituality at Perkins and Director of Spiritual Formation, spoke on the importance of gratitude in a recent column that appeared in The Dallas Morning News.
Jaime Clark-Soles, Professor of New Testament, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Perkins, recently delivered a webinar with the Cleveland Clinic: “Psychedelics and Soul Care.” She discussed her experiences in understanding the intersection of psychedelics, soul work and religious experience.
Danny Sebastian, a Ph.D. student in Religious Studies, was one of 10 finalists of SMU’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Sebastian presented his research – “Accounting for Ethics: Addressing Social Challenges through an Accounting Lens” – in non-specialist language in less than three minutes with the assistance of one static PowerPoint slide. Participants were judged on the effectiveness of their presentations and their ability to convince the judges of the impact of their research.
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Booker (M.Div. ’86) passed away Nov. 22 in Dallas. For 37 years, Dr. Booker served United Methodist churches in both the Texas and North Texas annual conferences. He retired from Highland Park UMC in July 2023.
Rev. Kay Reed (M.Div. ’91) passed away Oct. 19 in Brenham, Texas. Upon graduation and ordination, she began a career as one of the first women ministers in the Northwest Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, serving churches in Lubbock, Meadow, Ropesville, Earth, Colorado City, Albany, Moran, Tulia and Brenham.
Perkins School of Theology invites you to join faculty, students, and alumni at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in Bridwell Library. The Sacred Music program at Perkins will host the first Doctor of Pastoral Music Research Showcase. The event will include academic presentations by current doctoral candidate Roger Holland and Stanton Nelson, a graduate. Presentations will be followed by a reception at Bridwell’s Gill Hall.
Stanton Nelson is a music associate at Highland Park UMC in Dallas and leads a non-profit organization, Noted with Honor, in order to compose pieces for hospice patients to honor their lives of faith. Besides self-publishing over 250 pieces of music, Stanton has released seven original composition albums: Genesis, From the Launchpad, On This Journey, Respite, With These People, Offertory and Glory to God. He holds a Bachelor of Music (Piano Performance) from the University of Kansas and a Master of Music (Collaborative Piano Performance) from the University of Michigan, as well as a Master of Divinity from The King’s University and a Doctor of Pastoral Music from Southern Methodist University.
Roger Holland II is a Teaching Associate Professor and director of The Spirituals Project at the University of Denver. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Roger is also the editor of the In Spirit and Truth series published by GIA Publications, Inc., which focuses on the idiomatic expressions of Black music for Black Catholics. His presentation is titled “The Theosonics of Black Catholic Spirituality.”
This year’s event features a diverse lineup of lecturers who will challenge attendees – clergy and laypersons alike – to answer the following questions:
Is there only one way to “read” the Bible?
What can I learn from someone else’s reading or interpretation of the Scriptures?
How can one’s perspective shape the impact of God’s work in our communities?
Join Esau McCaulley, Carolyn J. Sharp, Eric D. Barreto and Terry Wildman as they offer stimulating, rich theological reflections on the Scriptures and inspiring real-life ministry implementation. Pick and choose which sessions you want to attend, or stay for the entire conference at a significant savings!
By Ted A. Campbell
As written and published in Seoul Times.
I have been staying at the Shilla Stay hotel on the corner of Saemunan and Tongil streets in an area of Seoul called Seodaemun. The word Seodaemun literally means “west gate” and it denoted one of the eight historic gates of the city of Seoul. Seodaemun is a very modern part of the cosmopolitan city of Seoul that is home to ten million people.
But as I’ve lived here for a week, I have come to know Seodaemun as a place that keeps its history.
The name of the Shilla Stay hotel is from the Kingdom of Silla that governed most of what is now Korea—north and south—between 668 and 935 CE. Later in the five centuries of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897 CE), Korea was an independent country with Confucianism at its cultural foundation. The Joseon dynasty moved its capital to Seoul early after 1392 and built a fortified wall to protect the city. The wall of Seoul had eight historic gates. The “West Gate” (Korean: Seodaemun) was built in 1396 and although it was commonly called “West Gate,” and gave the name Seodaemun to the surrounding neighborhood, its proper name was the Donuimun or “Loyalty” Gate. Sadly, it is the one gate of the city that no longer exists: it was destroyed by Japanese occupying forces in 1915, but a photograph exists of the Donuimun-Seodaemun Gate taken in 1904 by Presbyterian missionary Horace Underwood and it shows an electric tram line running through the gate:
Although proposals have been made to rebuild the Seodaemun gate, the project has been judged impractical, but there is now a video display in the street adjacent to the site: by placing one’s hand on the video screen, a view of the old Seodaemun Gate appears amidst the contemporary scene of the street, a very creative way to call to mind the history of a place:
The province of the Joseon kingdom in which Seoul was situated was called Geonggi, and the Geonggi Governor’s palace was located just outside the Seodaemun Gate. The current location has an ultra-modern office building with the insignia of DL Engineering and Construction, a Korean corporation that builds bridges and other engineered structures in East Asia (see http://www.dlenc.co.kr):
The office tower is named Donuimun, and just outside the front of the tower building is a small historical monument noting that it was the historic location of the Geonggi Governor’s palace and provincial offices:
But this small marker is flanked by two other markers commemorating the execution of Catholic martyrs for the Christian faith within the Geonggi provincial offices.
The Joseon dynasty’s embrace of Confucianism as the state religion of the kingdom had led to the persecution of some Buddhist teachers in the past centuries. Western Christian missionaries including Jesuits had come to China in the 1500s and had begun to develop missionary churches, facing persistent opposition from Chinese authorities. In Korea and as in Japan, covert Catholic communities numbering tens of thousands of Christians had grown up led by lay people only in the early 1700s. By 1784 in Korea they were able to send missionary priests, though this period of openness closed after only two decades. China, Japan, and Korea all experienced waves of anti-foreign sentiment in 1801. In China, this was the Boxer Rebellion. In all three countries, Christians were captured and often executed.
Several Catholic Christians were executed at the Geonggi offices in Seodaemun. One Korean convert named Jo Yongsam, who had taken the Christian name Peter at his baptism, was executed here. Before his execution on March 27 he said, “There are no two masters in heaven, and no man can have two hearts. All I want is to die once for the sake of God, and I have nothing else to say.” Francis the Bishop of Rome proclaimed in 2014 that Christians should recognize Peter Jo Yongsam among the “blessed” Christian martyrs, and Bishop Francis encouraged Christians to honor the memory of Blessed Peter Jo Yongsam every year on March 27. Two monuments in front of the DL Donuimun Tower commemorate the executions. An older monument is in Korean only, but a newer monument in English and Chinese as well as Korean is part of a more recent series of monuments on the history of Catholicism in Korea:
Peter Jo Yongsam’s words “There are no two masters in heaven…” might be a renunciation of the Confucian belief in the eternal complementarity of Yin and Yang. His words remind me of St Augustine’s account in his Confessions of his rejection of the eternal dualism he encountered among the Manicheans of his time and his eventual rejection of their teaching in recognizing that evil is temporal and only the good, only God, is eternal.
162 years after the execution of Peter Jo Yongsam, a Pentecostal congregation developed on the same site (1963), under the leadership of David Yonggi Cho (1936-2021). This congregation reached out to its neighborhood, organized believers into small groups for support and encouragement, and grew very rapidly. They built a multi-story church building along the same block as the DL Tower if not in fact the same location where the DL Tower would be constructed:
Consistent with Pentecostal teaching, the congregation and its leaders encouraged believers to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit described in the second chapter of Acts. The congregation that originated in Seodaemon later moved across the Han River to Yoido, and for several decades now it has been recognized as the largest Christian congregation in the world with an estimated membership of 800,000 members.
Korean Christians are much closer to a history of persecution than American Christians: for Koreans, the memory of persecution persists strongly from the early twentieth century, and Korea’s close neighbors China and Russia have openly opposed Christian evangelization.
As I look out the window across the traffic intersection I can see the DL Tower most prominently to my left, and I can barely see the three little monuments relating to the Geonggi provincial offices and the executions that were on that site. Then I see Saemunan Street extending to my left past the site of the Full Gospel Church and then on to the site of the Donuimun Gate. A tall building at that point has a huge image of the Donuimun Gate that I can easily see from here, seven or eight blocks away.
What Seodaemun teaches me is that local communities can find creative ways to bring their history with them into the future. I hope that American neighborhoods can find ways like this to bring our history—even painful parts of our history—into the future with us.
In the late spring of 2021, the World Methodist Council announced that Bridwell Library would be the recipient of the World Methodist Museum collections held in Lake Junaluska, NC. Two years later, the first exhibition of the museum opened on Oct. 2. The exhibition will be on long-term display and is free and open to the public daily.
In advance of the exhibit’s opening, David Worthington – Director of Global Relationships at John Wesley’s New Room in Bristol, United Kingdom – offered a presentation in the Blue Room of Bridwell Library.
Because the collection is so extensive, only a portion of the items will be on display at any given time with many artifacts set to be exhibited on rotation. During the last two years since Bridwell received the World Methodist Museum collections, staff and scholars have reviewed many of the items and explored ways to display the distinct cultural artifacts and manuscripts … so that the collection would receive optimal visibility while also recognizing and honoring the legacy that the World Methodist Council and the community of Lake Junaluska maintained for many decades.
Christina Rhodes, who has served a variety of roles in development and enrollment management at SMU since 2017, has been appointed Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management at Perkins School of Theology by Bishop Michael McKee, the Leighton K. Farrell Dean ad interim. Her appointment is effective October 16, 2023.
As Assistant Dean, Rhodes will play a pivotal role in crafting a vision for Perkins’ recruitment, admissions, and scholarship aid as well as developing strategies and implementing a comprehensive plan to market to, identify, recruit, and enroll graduate students in the degree programs at Perkins.
“Her passion, listening skills, and approachability will be essential for representing Perkins to prospective students,” said Bishop Michael McKee, the Leighton K. Farrell Dean, ad interim, at Perkins. “I am confident that her commitment to our mission, strong analytic skills, and collaborative style will help our entire community be partners in recruiting the next generation of leaders.”
After a nationwide search, a large debt of gratitude is extended to Associate Dean Hugo Magallanes who ably led the search committee consisting of Meredith Turner, Rev. Annette Owen, Dr. Elias Lopez, Dr. Marcell Silva Steuernagel, Dr. Alyce McKenzie, and Herbert Coleman, Diversity Officer. Also, a special thanks to Andy Keck, Chief of Staff, who served as Interim leader of Enrollment Management while the search was being conducted.
“I look forward to this new role at Perkins School of Theology,” Rhodes said. “I am excited about the opportunity to further guide Perkins to help our enrollment grow as theological education changes.”
In June, she and Jack Levison were the featured speakers at the North Alabama UMC Annual Conference. In early August, they gave the keynote lecturers during the Guder Scholars Conference at St. Andrews Hall, University of British Columbia.
Jesus Urdiales Rodriguez joined the CASA (Centro de Acompañamiento, Solidaridad y Adiestramiento) team as a Program Specialist. Urdiales Rodriguez comes to Perkins from Houston, where he worked as a Program Coordinator for Harris County. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Lamar University in 2022 and a Bachelor of Science from the College of Biblical Studies in 2018.