March 2021 News Perspective Online

Holy Week Safety

Continuing its ongoing work of providing safety guidance to congregations, an ecumenical team has produced a 15-page guide for Holy Week. The guide offers tips to reduce health risks as churches celebrate Holy Week with Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter worship services. The guide draws on a range of experts, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Among the contributors were Dr. Mark W. Stamm, Professor of Christian Worship, and alums Dr. Diana Sanchez-Bushong (M.S.M. 1986) and Brian Hehn (M.S.M. 2012). The Rev. Lisa Garvin, SMU’s new Chaplain, is also a contributor. Click here to read the guidelines.

March 2021 News Perspective Online

Student Spotlight: Rohan Abraham

In a pre-COVID universe, Rohan Abraham might’ve traveled from his home country to Dallas to attend Perkins School of Theology. This year, however, he began his studies from his home in Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai) in India.

That means attending class in the middle of the night – usually between 1 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. in his time zone – but so far, it’s working. Abraham says it helps that he’s nocturnal by nature.

“Some would say a conversation about God isn’t odd at any hour of the day,” he said.  “On more stress-filled days, home-brewed coffee helps quite a bit!”

The first-year Th.M. student is pursuing a concentration in Systematic Theology. A member of the Methodist Church of India, Abraham hopes to teach at a seminary and serve the church by training future leaders.

“I am intrigued by almost anything cerebral, and as a consequence, there isn’t a shortage of interesting things I would pour myself into,” he said. “However, I am interested in postmodernity as a social phenomenon and postmodernism as an intellectual deliberation on postmodernity, modernity, and its inter-connections with spirituality and religion. This has me gravitating heavily towards postmodern theology and postmodern thinkers.”

Abraham learned about Perkins through his teacher, Dr. Abraham Varghese Kunnuthara, who encouraged him to consider studying in seminaries outside of India for his Bachelor of Divinity. After looking into Perkins’ mission statement, faculty, curriculum, and scholarship opportunities, he chose Perkins for graduate study, and feels confident he made the right choice.

“There is a quiet and stimulating balance between spirituality, critical thinking, and social engagement, which has been refreshingly inspirational in my Perkins journey so far,” he said. “I especially love the expertise, maturity, and creativity the teachers have, and their spirituality in many ways has been contagious.”

Abraham plans to begin taking in-person classes on campus next fall. Like many students during the pandemic, his participation in extracurricular activities has been necessarily limited, but he attends chapel services when he can.

Monastic spirituality is another area of special interest. The Confessions of Saint Augustine and Thomas Merton’s reflections on his spirituality have both provided ongoing spiritual nourishment.

“I tend to return to them and re-read portions of their writings to gain some devotional depth, especially when bogged down by the currents of life,” he said.

Abraham adds that he’s grateful to his family, and in particular, his father, who passed away shortly before classes began last fall, after battling debilitating kidney disease for seven years.

“His undying example and strength of will continue to fuel me, my purpose, and my sense of self,” he said.

Seminary study represents a bit of a detour from Abraham’s original career plans. Much of his life, he assumed he’d follow a career in IT or engineering. While enrolled in an undergraduate program in engineering, however, he entered a period of spiritual angst and searching. That was spurred, he said, by “an existential encounter with the crucifixion” inspired in part by songs by Michael Card, such as “Why?” and “Death of a Son.”

“I started seeking answers in Christianity that I had already found in Jesus, which made me go down the rabbit hole of atheism-theism debates and dispensational apologetics,” he said.  He left the engineering program and eventually earned his undergraduate degree at Union Biblical Seminary, part of Serampore University.

“I realized my questions had questions of their own, and in my time in seminary, I was able to accrue much-needed profundity for my faith and my person,” he said. “I learned about newer avenues of theological thought and was able to deepen my faith and theological aptitude.”

Looking back on his decision to pivot from engineering to theology, Abraham recalls a stanza from another Michael Card song, “God’s Own Fool.”

So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son, for a madman who died for a dream. Then you’ll have the faith his first followers had, and you’ll feel the weight of the beam. Surrender the hunger to say you must know; have the courage to say I believe. For the power of paradox opens your eyes and blinds those who say they can see.

“This stanza suits my own journey into theology and my leap into faith, he said. “It is quite possible that in a parallel universe, I am a skilled and successful engineer. And that possibility brings me sadness because that other Rohan doesn’t know the mysterious nourishment I get in being a student of theology and a worker (albeit flawed) for Christ.”

March 2021 News Perspective Online

Faculty Profile: Steve Long

For Steve Long, life is a pilgrimage. That’s a theme that echoes through his scholarly work, writing, and even his vacations.

An avid cyclist who has commuted by bicycle for more than 40 years, he’s currently finishing a book, The Art of Cycling, Living and Dying: Moral Theology from Ordinary Life, which reflects on cycling, ethics and his recent experience with an emergency pacemaker after a complete heart block. Cascade Press will publish the book in late 2021. Written for a lay audience, Long says the book looks at life as a pilgrimage, with a beginning, middle and end, as well as “the virtues and vices” of cycling.

“Cycling can make you very competitive, but it also teaches you to cooperate,” he said. “And there’s a certain element of courage that’s required to share the road.”

The road, he adds, is one of the few remaining common spaces, at a time when much of modern life has been privatized.

“I’m struck by signs that remind motorists to ‘Share the road’ with cyclists,” he said. “Where else do you see that? When you go into a bank, you don’t see signs that say, ‘Share the wealth.’ I know how precarious that can be, when people don’t want to share the road. I’ve broken six bones over the years. But I’ve also seen how generous people can be.”

He’s also working on another book, aimed at a more academic audience, called Infusing Virtue: On Teaching and Learning Ethics, which looks at the role theology and the work of the Holy Spirit play in teaching ethics. In 2019, Wesley Foundery Books published Truth Telling in a Post-Truth World, which Long wrote at the request of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Long is also an ordained elder in the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.

As a university professor, Long has two offices – a small one in Hyer Hall, and another at Perkins. He teaches an undergraduate course each semester as well as one graduate-level course for master’s or Ph.D. students at Perkins.

For those who’d like to sample Long’s work and teaching, there’s a chance coming soon. He’s leading a program on “Truth Telling in a Post-Truth World” at the Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning March 19-20.  Details are here.

Long says the course will be a discussion about why telling the truth is a political matter. He will begin with SMU’s motto, “Veritas Liberabit Vos,” which means, “The truth will set you free.”

“The question I pose is — do we still believe that?” he said. “Or do we now have a politics where we just assume it’s all just power and antagonism, and that power and antagonism is what finally sets us free?  Trajectories in recent politics have suggested that we can’t come to any agreement on what may be true and good. That everyone has a right to their own view of what truth is, and that we really can’t adjudicate the most basic things, such as, how to respond to a pandemic. I also try to bring in the significance of theology and political theory.”

Outside of his scholarly work, Long volunteers with a nonprofit ministry called Bridges to Life, leading a 12-week restorative justice course for men who’ve just been released from prison.  Four students from one of Long’s classes have gone through the program with him as well. The program brings together people who have committed crimes with those who’ve been victims of other crimes.

“They are all sitting in the same room, and they go around and tell their stories and have to listen to one another,” he said. “These prisoners are hard men, but you see them break down and cry. It reminds you how life is for everyone and not just those of us who’ve had so much privilege. It keeps me grounded.”

Teaching Specialties

Christian Ethics; Systematic Theology; Moral Theology

Favorite Bible Passage

2 Corinthians 10:5: “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Book on his nightstand:    

Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power by Pekka Hamalainen. “I love to always be reading something that’s not in my field,” he said. “This book has nothing to do with any research I’m doing.”

Fantasy Dinner Party

We have a lot of dinner parties – with our kids, grandkids and their friends – so I live my fantasy. But I’d be fascinated to bring together cyclist Eddy Merckx, theologian Karl Barth, and social activist Dorothy Day. And maybe someone like Randy Cooper, who spent his entire life in rural parish ministry. I’d like them to discuss vocations. I would ask: “What constitutes a live well lived? What regrets do you have?”


Long has been living in Wisconsin this past semester, near a medical facility where his wife is the former nurse manager.   He’s getting follow-up care there for the treatment he underwent in November in Dallas. He and his wife Ricka have three adult children: daughter Lindsey, a United Methodist pastor in Chicago, daughter Rebecca and son Jonathan, and three granddaughters.

Favorite travel destinations?

Long has visited the Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain, the nexus of a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe, three times with family and friends. Another favorite spot is his parents’ lake cottage in Buffalo, Indiana. Growing up in rural Indiana, he spent a few weeks there every summer, and returns once a year. “To me, that’s going home,” he said.

Question He’d Ask at the Pearly Gates:

“Was I asking the right questions?”

Personal spiritual practice.

“I use the Book of Common Prayer,” he said. “Doing it that way, I can just receive and reflect on it. I tell people that I’m religious but not spiritual.”

Something you might not know about him

“I know all the words to Doctor Suess’s Hop on Pop, Fox on Socks and Cat in the Hat,” he said. “I love to read to my three granddaughters. I’ve memorized them!”

March 2021 News Perspective Online

Faculty Updates

Ted Campbell Op-Ed

Ted Campbell

An op-ed by Dr. Ted A. Campbell, Professor of Church History, recently appeared in The Dallas Morning News, entitled, “Who will deliver America from the cycle of verbal violence?”

Campbell argued that religious traditions recognize verbal violence and form believers in practices of discipline to help avoid it. “Religions teach us in the first place to fill our souls and our mouths with good things,” he wrote. “Words have power. They have power to harm, and they also have power to heal.” Campbell also shared Methodist founder John Wesley’s teachings about speaking evil of an absent person. “You can say what you need to say about a person: to their face,” he wrote. “But not in any case when they can’t answer for themselves.” Read the op-ed here.

Lecture on Women Evangelists

Priscilla Pope-Levison

Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, Professor of Ministerial Studies at Perkins, recently delivered a Zoom lecture on “Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists.” The lecture covered the ministries of 18 women evangelists active over a period of 200 years of North American life. “These are stunningly fascinating women, who have captivated me for over 25 years,” she said. “Most of them have been largely forgotten, and the recovery of their stories required years of archival research and travel, from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia across the continent to Seattle and down to Los Angeles.”  The Jakes Divinity School All-School Lecture took place on February 22 and covered a range of Christian traditions, from Roman Catholicism to African American Pentecostalism.

New Book of Poetry

Harold Recinos

Wipf and Stock has published a new book of poetry, Wading in the River, by Harold J. Recinos, Professor of Church and Society.  “Since grade school, I have tried to write between the lines and with a Spanglish vision for life,” Recinos said. “I hope the words in this work will stir others’ world.”


March 2021 News Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Updates

Bishop of West Malaysia

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in South East Asia has named the Rev. Canon Steven Abbarow as Bishop of the Diocese of West Malaysia in succession to the Rt. Rev. Datuk No Moon Hing. Abbarow is the principal of the Seminari Theologi Malaysia and is the team vicar of St Mark’s Serambam. Ordained a priest in 1990 in the Diocese of West Malaysia, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Malaysia, and an M. Div, S.T.M. and D. Min. (2016) from Perkins. He served in the parish ministry from 1990 to 2012, when he was appointed vice-principal of Seminari Theologi Malaysia, and was named principal-elect this year. He is also a member of the Provincial Missions Committee and serves on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission for Unity Faith and Order. Read the announcement here.

Zan Holmes Interview

The Rev. Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. (M. Th. 1959, M.S.T. 1968) reflected on the Dallas housing development he helped create, and the legacy of a project that brought together an interdenominational group of churches, a rarity at the time, in a recent radio interview on KERA. Holmes served as pastor at St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in Dallas for 28 years, and also was an adjunct professor at the Perkins School of Theology at SMU for 24 years. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1968 to 1972 and has been a longtime activist in the community. Listen to the interview here.

Clarence Glover Op-Ed

The work of Black history expert Clarence E. Glover (M.T.S. 1982) was recently highlighted in a commentary in The Dallas Morning News reminding readers of the importance of Black History Month in 2021. “Where there are no roots, there are no fruits,” Glover said. “We as African-Americans must recognize our historical and cultural roots in order to produce quality and cultural fruit.”  Glover is a former diversity educator for Southern Methodist University and Dallas ISD, a minister, urban gardener and drummer who often presents an African interpretation of Biblical scriptures and sometimes lectures as his ancestral alter-ego character “Professor Freedom.” Glover noted that the nation’s founding motto of unity — E pluribus unum, or Latin for “out of many, one” — may seem lost in light of recent racial and political turmoil. Calls for unity must acknowledge ignored enslaved Africans and their descendants who provided all-day, back-breaking labor, Glover said. “We must accept the fact that the dream of the American nation, 1776, was built on the backs of enslaved African families,” he said.   Read the commentary here.

Op-Ed by Blair Thompson White

“America is in the grips of a ‘me’ society, but we can make it into a ‘we’ society,” writes the Rev. Dr. Blair Thompson-White (M. Div. ’12, D. Min. ’18) in a recent op-ed in The Dallas Morning News.  Expecting a baby in an uncertain time, she pondered, “What will the world be like for her generation?” Acts of defiant hope encourage her. “We human beings are hardwired to connect with one another at a deep level and not just with those who look like us and pray like we do,” she wrote. “We can know the pain and the needs of another as our own.” She believes that the sacred books of the world’s religions can help inspire that change. “They all teach that loving your neighbor and caring for the least of these go hand-in-hand, and this is non-negotiable for those who want to align their lives with the holy,” she wrote. Thompson-White is an ordained United Methodist minister and director of leadership ministry for the Texas Methodist Foundation.  Read the column here.

St. Andrew Video

Two members of Perkins community featured prominently in the kickoff video for the next Connections Group Winter Series 2021 for St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Plano:  the Rev. Robert Hasley (M.S.T. 1977, D. Min. 1978), St. Andrew’s senior pastor, and Jennifer Kilpatrick, pastoral intern and a third-year M. Div. Student at Perkins. The new study series, “Already One: The Great Debate,” explores issues relating to racial injustice. “While all of us have different backgrounds, we are one in Christ,” Hasley said in the video; watch it here.



Obit: The Rev. Lee Soxman

The Rev. Lee F. Soxman, Jr. (M. Th. 1948) died on February 4 at his home in Lee’s Summit, Mo., at age 95.  Soxman served United Methodist congregations in Missouri for more than 50 years, including: Atherton, Garland Ave., Joplin First, Cassville, Marshfield, Mt. Washington (Independence), Liberty, Grandview, K.C. North District Superintendent, Lee’s Summit United Methodist Church, and King’s Way, Springfield, Mo. After retiring in 1992, he served as an ambassador for Epworth Children’s Home of St. Louis and visitation pastor for Lee’s Summit United Methodist Church. He joyfully sang with the Methodist Men of Note and led Bible studies at John Knox Village and Sunday Sojourners group. Memorial contributions may be made to American Parkinson’s Disease Association, P.O. Box 97216, Washington, DC 20090-7216; Della Lamb Community Services, 500 Woodland Ave., Kansas City, Mo. 64106; and Grace United Methodist Church, 2400 SE US Highway 50, Lee’s Summit, Mo. 64063-1051. Read his obit here.

Obit: The Rev. Bill Smith

The Rev. Bill Smith (M. Th. 1971) died on January 28 in Conway, Ark. A graduate of Hendrix College, he served on the Alumni Association Board of Governors for more than 20 years; President of the Alumni Association for two years; National Chairman of the Alumni Fund; and as a member of the Board of Trustees for two six-year terms. He established three endowed student scholarships and was the co-creator of the Baltz-Smith Endowed Odyssey Professorship. Upon graduation from Perkins, Smith transferred to the North Texas Conference and was appointed to Highland Park United Methodist Church; over the next 40+ years he served in the areas of youth ministry, college and university, single adults and pastoral care.  A service of worship celebrating his life was held at Highland Park UMC on February 8.   Memorial gifts may be made to the Rev. Bill Smith Endowed Scholarship Fund, checks payable to Hendrix College, Office of Development, 1600 Washington Avenue, Conway, Ark. 72032. Read his obit here.

Obit: The Rev. Daniel Joseph Louis, Jr.

The Rev. Daniel Joseph Louis, Jr. (M. Th. 1973) died on February 8.  He was a journalist with The Houston Post and Business Week Magazine until 1970, when he entered Perkins School of Theology. After graduation, he joined the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and served congregations in Golden, Edgewood, Overton and Pittsburg, and he worked 14 years at the United Methodist Reporter. He also served St. Mark’s in Houston Heights, and First UMC, Jacksonville. He attended A&M United Methodist Church in College Station after retiring to Bryan in January 2004. Dan was a member of the Golden Rule Sunday School Class of his church and the Texas Research Ramblers Genealogical Society. A memorial service was held on February 13 at A&M United Methodist Church. Read his obituary here.

Obit: The Rev. James F. Dean, Jr.

The Rev. James F. Dean, Jr. (M. Th. 1958) retired elder in the North Texas Conference, passed away January 14 at the age of 88. He served several churches throughout the North Texas Conference until his retirement in 1981. An online memorial service took place February 6. The Conference posted his funeral service and a slideshow of the last time he spoke. Sympathy cards and letters may be sent to his children at: Dean Residence, 104 Martingale Trail, Little Elm, TX  75068.

February 2021 News Perspective Online Top Story

A Message from the Dean: Religion & Government – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

One of several images from the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th that I’ll never forget is that of a person entering the breached door holding aloft a Bible for the cameras. One did not have to look hard to find evidence that numerous other participants saw their actions that day as divinely sanctioned. Who could miss, for example, the “Jesus Saves,” “In God We Trust,” and “God and Guns” signs, not to mention the large wooden cross carried in the crowd? Parallel to and part of this phenomenon is the fact that a surprising number of Christians have warmly embraced the bizarre and ugly QAnon conspiracy theory.

The great irony of the online information explosion is the fact that it encourages us, not to broaden ourselves, but to isolate ourselves, shutting out anything or anyone that challenges our perspective and so makes us uncomfortable. This tectonic shift was abetted proactively in 1987 when the FCC eliminated the “Fairness Doctrine” that had required broadcasters to offer a range of viewpoints on controversial topics. Taken together, these phenomena have created the conditions in which white supremacy, among other cancers on the American body politic, metastasizes freely.

Religion is a lot like government. There is good government, and there is bad government. The things that promote good religion are much the same as those that promote good government: respect for differing opinions, the ability to listen, honesty, empathy, the search for and acknowledgement of common ground, the ability to hold in tension competing ideals, a sense of duty and a commitment to service, widespread engagement, and concern for the larger whole. Governments that do not model these attributes have been the source of profound human misery. The same can be said for religion. Churches and other religious groups that are self-certain, incapable of correction, unwilling to engage others, and concerned only with themselves have the same potential for inflicting damage as bad governments. Indeed, all too often bad government finds its closest ally in bad religion.

High-quality theological education is an antidote to distorted and dangerous religion. A school like Perkins brings students into contact with others who, like them, profess Christ, but who bring to their shared conversation a world of experience and a range of perspectives they might never have encountered before. Questions are asked in class that force students to think through difficulties they might well have preferred to avoid addressing. Seminarians are therefore not so much taught what to think as how to think, how to ask critical questions, how to weigh evidence, how to determine what is core and what is periphery, and how to separate theological wheat from ideological chaff.

It goes without saying that we are a highly polarized nation, and many of our denominations are following suit. In such a situation, it is all the more essential that there be places where passions can be steered by reason. The easy, comforting caricatures of others emanating from across the spectrum must be challenged at the very place where the next generation of church leaders is formed. I would caution students not to attend a seminary in which they know before they set foot in the doorway what they are expected to think when they graduate.  God and the world just aren’t that simple.

Whatever your political and religious persuasion, I hope you will agree that we can do better. Surely, the times in which we live amply demonstrate that none of us is faultless, that all of us act out of some measure of self-interest and self-protection, and that all of us possess a limited perspective. We can be part of a glorious whole, but we are not whole in ourselves.

When I was interviewing to be dean, I was asked about the importance of diversity. Among other things, I said, “It is possible to be diverse without being great, but it is not possible to be great without being diverse.”  The world needs both good government and good religion, and we are the ones who decide whether the good or the bad prevails.

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management: February Update

Meet Our Current Perkins Student Ambassadors

By Margot Perez-Greene

The Perkins Graduate Student Ambassador Program was established so that current students could serve in the recruitment process by working closely with the Ministry Discernment Associates (MDA) in the Office of Enrollment Management (OEM). Under the guidance of the MDA’s, the participating Ambassadors connect with prospects through various on and off campus events administered by the Office of Enrollment Management. Ambassadors provide personal insights into the application process, the Perkins community, seminary life, campus navigation, access to outside scholarships and so much more.

Here are two of the four students currently serving as Ambassadors. We’ll introduce the others in the next issue of Perkins Perspective Online.

Rosedanny Ortiz: In Her Own Words

Ortiz, 30, is originally from Puerto Rico and currently living in Forney, Texas. She serves as lead pastor at Casa Linda Church, a United Methodist congregation in Dallas.

Why did you choose Perkins?

Since the day I accepted my call to ministry, I wanted to be prepared. What better way than to go back to school?  I was already looking at SMU for a master’s in engineering, so I changed my route to a Master of Divinity program. As soon as I attended an Inside Perkins event, I immediately felt at home. What I learned from the Perkins community, its students, professors and staff, represents a very blessed opportunity in my life.

Can you tell us about your call?

I was around 5 to 6 years old, attending Vacation Bible School at Charles W. Drees Methodist Church in Guayama, Puerto Rico, where I saw the pastor in the pulpit and thought, “I want to do that too, to talk to others about God.” It was there where I felt called to ministry, but I didn’t understand what it meant at that time.

When I came to Dallas with my husband, I began to serve Casa Linda Church, and after some discernment, I came to understand that I needed to start what God called me to do, ministry. I’m excited that I get to do this daily in the church where I finally accepted my call to ministry, Casa Linda! I’m blessed to lead this church with enthusiasm and passion for where God is calling us to be.

What are you goals upon completing your time with Perkins?

One of my goals is to begin the commissioning process of an elder in the North Texas Conference. Also, to find new ways to connect with the community, partner with other UMC churches to enrich ministry, and work on our congregation’s unity and diversity.

Tripp Gulledge: In His Own Words

Tripp Gulledge is from Mobile, Ala., and is a first-year Master of Divinity student.

Why did you choose Perkins?

I chose Perkins because I believe everyone here is shaped by a serious sense of calling. I originally did some online research about Perkins because I’m a lifelong United Methodist, so the official UMC schools seemed a good place to start looking for graduate theological education. After doing thorough research about degree programs, the faculty, and the balanced curriculum of the M.Div., I felt that Perkins was the best place to receive comprehensive theological education and formation. Also, at Perkins, everyone is sincere about whatever work they do, be it teaching, preaching, or advocacy, and I’m grateful for that.

What are you goals upon completing your time with Perkins?

After graduation, I will seek ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church. One day, I hope to write books and youth and children’s Christian education curriculum. If the Lord leads in such a way, I would love to pursue further theological education and possibly teach at the post-secondary level.


OEM will continue to share these personal stories and biographical information in the next few issues of Perkins Perspective Online. In the meantime, our Ambassadors are busy at work scheduling their participation with Samantha Stewart for future virtual events. To date, our Ambassadors have been a welcome addition to all on and off campus events. All in the OEM department look forward to continued dialogue as we consistently move toward improvement of recruitment activities.



February 2021 News Perspective Online

Office of Development: Let’s Talk About Financial Aid

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was in graduate school, I was able to work part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer and mostly pay for my education.  I must admit, most of my jobs were at or near minimum wage, yet it was still possible to achieve my goal of debt-free education.

Those days are long gone.  Minimum wage has not kept up with inflation nor with the cost of higher education.  We can all complain about the cost of education, but there are many more costs for institutions of higher education than when I was a student.  For instance, during my years as a president of a liberal arts college, from 1996 to 2014, we increased computer staff from two and a half employees to 23 full-time workers.  In addition, of course, we had the added costs of providing rapidly improving, up-to-date technology for faculty, staff, and students.  That is just one example of higher education’s growing expenses over the last twenty-five years.  I could give many more.

All that in order to say that we must help our current and future students figure out ways to afford their education as they prepare for ministry and other avenues of service in the world. Let me share some recent good news with you:

  • At the end of 2020, a generous donor gave $500,000 to Perkins, to be used for student scholarships. In consultation with Dean Hill, it has been decided that, from this pool, five new Perkins Scholars will be funded each year for the next three years, in addition to the 10 funded by the Perkins Executive Board.  A separate group of students will be eligible for additional scholarship support from that pool of money as well.
  • In January, the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation informed us that it is awarding Perkins $300,000 for the Baptist House of Studies program. The bulk of the money will be used for scholarship aid for four new “Baugh Scholars” each year over the next three years.  This effort, under the direction of Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, has already impacted Baptist students who desire to come to Perkins School of Theology. (Read more here.)
  • A faithful donor recently handed me a check to fund five Perkins Scholars for the class of 2024, who will enter Perkins this August.
  • On February 16, the Bolin Family Virtual Scholarship Event, featuring David Brooks from the New York Times, will add nearly $175,000 to the general scholarship account thanks to faithful sponsors who are giving suggested donations at various levels. It is not too late to get involved in that event.  Visit and join the fun and intellectual stimulation.  The presentation will be memorable.

Those are four large sums of money, and we are extremely thankful.  But we are grateful for all gifts, both big and modest.  Every dollar counts.  I urge all alumni and friends to help make theological education affordable for our current students.  We are educating students who will make a difference in the church and the world from 2021 through 2065, and beyond!  What will the world be like in 2065?  Who knows?  But many students who are being educated right now will still be faithfully ministering to a hurting and changing world.

Join us in this effort.  To give online, click on  To give by check, make it out to SMU and note Perkins Scholarships.  Send to:

John A. Martin
Perkins Development
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133

All my best,

John A. Martin
Perkins Development

February 2021 News Perspective Online

James Lee Receives Distinguished Teaching Professor Award

Jim Lee’s online D. Min. class was interrupted unexpectedly on January 13. The surprise: SMU Provost Elizabeth G. Loboa “Zoom-bombed” the class to present Lee with the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. Pamela Hogan, his neighbor in Selecman Hall and coordinator of doctoral programs at Perkins, then presented him with a medal and plaque.

Dr. James Kang Hoon Lee is associate professor of the History of Early Christianity and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program and has been a member of the Perkins faculty since 2012. The annual Altshuler Award recognizes four SMU faculty members for their notable commitment to and achievements in fostering student learning.

“Dr. Lee’s teaching, in both traditional classrooms and in hybrid environments, has been exceptional,” said Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill in his nomination letter. “He has a history of service within SMU and Perkins, notably in his recent role of overseeing the restructure and execution of the new Doctor of Ministry program. The restructuring was as much pedagogical as curricular, attesting to his skilled capacity for teaching.”

Since 2001, the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award honors faculty for their notable commitment to and achievements in fostering student learning. Recipients receive a $10,000 award and membership in SMU’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. For two years following the award, they participate actively with other members of the Academy in providing campus-wide leadership in teaching and learning.

Recipients are chosen because they are teachers “whose concerns for higher education go beyond classroom boundaries and often the boundaries of their own disciplines,” according to the award guidelines. “In student mentoring, in discussions about teaching, and in continuous reflection about their own successes and ways to improve, they represent the highest achievement in reaching the goals of higher education.”

Lee holds a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, where he received a teaching award from the Kaneb Center. At Perkins, he teaches survey courses that cover 2,000 years of church history, and he teaches elective courses on topics such as Christian Mysticism, Early Christian Spirituality and the Bible, The Church in Early Christianity, and The Theology of St. Augustine. Lee hopes that the study of church history will serve as a resource for students facing practical challenges in the church today. As one student remarked after taking Lee’s courses, “I have seen that most of the issues that I deal with in leading my congregation within my tradition have been issues that have been repeated in ancient history,” and “I am better equipped to handle these issues today.”

Lee has been nominated twice before for teaching awards at SMU, but this is the first time that he has won an award from the Center for Teaching Excellence. The Altshuler Award is the most prestigious teaching award given to tenured faculty at SMU. “I am truly humbled and honored to receive the Altshuler Award,” Lee said. “It is a testament to the wonderful work of the faculty, staff, and leadership in the Perkins School of Theology. Above all, it is a reflection of the incredibly inspiring students that we are fortunate to serve at SMU.”

Other Altshuler recipients for 2020 include Jeffrey Kahn, professor of Law and Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow at SMU; Jill E. Kelly, associate professor of history in the William P. Clements Department of History within Dedman College; and William Maxwell, professor of finance at the Cox School of Business.

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Seals Laity Award

Perkins School of Theology announces the 2021 recipients of the Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award: Kirk Franklin, a Grammy-award winning gospel artist and member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship; Nancy Seay, a philanthropist and elder of Highland Park Presbyterian Church (HPPC); and Lisa Tichenor, an active community leader and lay member of Highland Park United Methodist Church (HPUMC). Along with Mary White, the 2020 Seals Award recipient, the three will be honored during the online worship service for Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning on March 19. Read more here.