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.
As the faculty and staff prepared for the beginning of the fall semester, I was interested in meeting with Perkins’ new students. The orientation for our new students showed that they are eager to begin their theological education and that they are excellent students who are ready!
In my conversations with several of our new students, I discovered a wide range of academic interests. A few are curious about Biblical studies, some are interested in the Hebrew Scriptures, and still others are seeking a thorough understanding of the New Testament. Of course, there were students with a keen interest in the Biblical languages, either Hebrew or Greek. Those who enroll in a Biblical language have three semesters of work before them: two semesters of learning the language and a semester of exegesis. Certainly, it is challenging work.
Others are more interested in theology, while others are more drawn to the history of the Christian Church. As I listened, I learned most of our new students came prepared and interested in the Perkins theological education. This is an excellent group of students with knowledge, passion and determination.
As proud as I am of our new students, I am equally proud of our faculty. In the past few months, there have been occasions for conversations with our faculty and learning about that on which they have been working. They have shared their scholarship with me, and I am looking forward to the publishing of several books and articles. The faculty are diligent in their work, and I hope many of you are grateful for them.
In order for theological education to occur, there is a significant group of staff members who are vital to Perkins’ educational endeavors. It could not happen without the persons who work in Bridwell Library, the school’s administrative staff, the enrollment management team and several others who are deeply committed to Perkins and our work of forming students for their vocational callings.
Thank you to all for your commitment and your work for Perkins.
Bishop Michael McKee
Leighton K. Farrell Endowed Dean, ad interim
As we begin the Fall 2023 term at Perkins School of Theology, I want to remind you that our Development office continually works to facilitate gifts to Perkins that benefit the important ministry of education.
My assistant, Rose Burns, and I are laser-focused to find sources for funds to aid the development of Perkins. Much of our attention is on raising money for scholarships so that our students do not incur insurmountable debt as they finish their various degrees. We continue to make strides in raising scholarship dollars. Generous donors make this mission possible, and you can be involved in this important work in many ways.
Each year, Perkins holds three Faith and Business Luncheons. The first on this year will take place Monday, Sept. 18 and features Mr. David McAtee, Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel for AT&T. David is an outstanding Christian layman. He will be sharing his story in an interview format. The luncheon is free and open to all by reservation. To make a reservation click here. Be on the lookout for future announcements about the January and April luncheons.
Our annual spring Scholarship Luncheon will take place March 19, 2024, and will feature Mr. Clark Hunt, a member of the SMU Board of Trustees and Chairman and CEO of the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs. Details of how you can secure a seat for yourself or, even better, sponsor a table for you and your guests will be available soon. The event will take place on the SMU campus in the Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom.
This fall, the final installation of the Caren and Vin Prothro Organ is being accomplished. The organ is a historic E. M. Skinner organ built in 1917 and totally refurbished for Perkins Chapel. Our organist professors tell me that it is a perfect size and sound for our Chapel. A dedicatory concert will take place in the early spring on a yet-to-be-determined date. It will be in service for the Lessons and Carols of Christmas at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30. Watch for an announcement of that important and well-attended event. We have many to thank for this instrument … not the least of which are Bill and Gay Solomon, who gave the lead gift so the purchase in rebuilding could be made. Gay is a member of the Perkins Executive Board. For information about the organ, click here.
Two important committees will each meet twice this year. The Perkins Campaign Steering Committee convenes on the morning of October 4 and again on March 8, 2024. As of this month, the Perkins Campaign has raised almost $31.5 million. We expect that total to increase significantly during the course of this year.
The other important committee is the Perkins Executive Board, a group of individuals who care deeply about Perkins’ mission and its students, faculty and staff. For information about the Executive Board, click here. I will be introducing you to the Executive board members in a future article.
Next month I will introduce you to this year’s Perkins Scholars and Baugh Scholars. Remember, every scholarship dollar is important. Don’t forget about the Perkins giving page or, if you would rather reach out and talk, here is our information:
Perkins Office of Development
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133
John A. Martin, Director of Development
Before fall semester classes started, students, faculty and staff had an opportunity to go out in the Dallas community to serve others. As part of this year’s Ministry Dallas activities, held Aug. 16-20, Perkins students and staff spent a day at Joppy Momma’s Farm to assist with the farm work and then to
Bonton Farms Market Cafe for lunch. The following days took them to
Dr. James Lee, Associate Professor of the History of Early Christianity, was interviewed for the University of Notre Dame’s Wisdom Project on YouTube. The Wisdom Project at Notre Dame explores various dimensions of Wisdom, both in and beyond religious traditions. The Wisdom Project’s YouTube channel is hosted by Dr. Gabriel Said Reynolds, Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology. Dr. Reynolds asked Dr. Lee about wisdom in the book of Job, Augustine’s understanding of wisdom in relation to faith and reason, and wisdom according to the early Greek Christian tradition. https://youtu.be/9k9QCrmHZ9M
Dr. Lee also was invited to teach a 3-week theology course at the University of Notre Dame in July entitled, “Christian Doctrine for Catechists,” for the Echo Graduate Service program. The Echo program helps to form lay leaders for service in the church. Students serve at a parish or school during the academic year while earning a Master of Arts in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. https://mcgrath.nd.edu/service-learning/echo-graduate-service-program/
Dr. Susanne Scholz, Professor of Old Testament, is organizer of the upcoming research symposium “Law, Religion and Social Progress in the Age of COVID-19,” scheduled for Sept. 17-19 at Perkins School of Theology. The pandemic has had great impact on social progress within and across societies. This symposium, sponsored by SMU’s Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute (DCII), explores notions of social progress, during pandemic and ‘post’-pandemic times, within a diversity of national and international contexts, primarily through the prism of law and religion. Scholars from around the world (Britain, Canada, Japan, Nigeria and the United States) will present their work located in various academic disciplines (religious studies, law, anthropology, rhetorical studies, political science, social science and theological studies). For more information and to register: https://people.smu.edu/lawreligionandsocialprogress/
Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, Professor of New Testament and Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Perkins, was part of a panel – “Sacramental Plants and Fungi: Historical and Scientific Insights for the Religious Life – at the recent Parliament of the World’s Religions gathering in Chicago. The panel, moderated by religion historian Elaine Pagels, also included noted author and speaker Richard Rohr.
Dr. Jack Levison, W.J.A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrea, recently was interviewed by Kevin Krueger for the “Breakaway” podcast on WGTS-FM (Washington, D.C.) Listen to the in-depth interview on Levison’s latest book, Seven Secrets of the Spirit-Filled Life.