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Latest News from Bridwell Library

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, November – December 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Fall 2021

The thirteenth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; a story about the newly renamed Center for Methodist Studies at Bridwell Library; a tribute to Ian Tyson; a staff profile; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Fall 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, August – October 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Summer 2021

The twelfth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; reports on the library’s reopening, the Dante Festival and the arrival of a new major collection; upcoming online exhibitions; a staff spotlight; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Summer 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, April – July 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Spring 2021

The eleventh issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Spring 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, January – March 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Winter 2021

The tenth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; recent acquisitions and winter gifts to Bridwell; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Winter 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, July – December 2020

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Fall 2020

The eighth and ninth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Summer / Fall 2020 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quarterly – Spring 2020

The seventh issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Spring 2020 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, February – April 2020

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Winter 2020

The sixth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Winter 2020 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, November – December 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Fall 2019

The fifth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Fall 2019 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, September – October 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, May – August 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Summer 2019

The fourth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly completes the first annual cycle of publishing, and includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, passages and experiences of staff, a reflection on the library’s current state of change, and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Summer 2019 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, March & April 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Spring 2019

The third issue of The Bridwell Quarterly features a range of activities and events, not least of which is an old (though now discontinued) tradition, which former Bridwell staff member Charles Baker writes about: Savonarolafest.

Click to read the Spring 2019 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Library – May 2019

The Word Embodied

This fine press catalog, limited to two hundred copies, was designed and printed by Bradley Hutchinson at his letterpress printing office in Austin Texas. Reflecting the style of many of the items featured in the exhibition, the catalog comprises loose folios and sheets housed in a four-flap paper portfolio. The type is Espinosa Nova, designed by Cristóbal Henestrosa and based on the types of Antonio de Espinosa, the first typecutter in the New World, who was active in Mexico City between 1551 and 1576. The paper is Mohawk Superfine and the illustrations were printed by Capital Printing of Austin, Texas. The portfolio was constructed by Santiago Elrod. Images were prepared by Rebecca Howdeshell, Bridwell Library, using an i2S SupraScan Quartz A1 book scanner. 100 pages, folios housed in paper wrappers; color illustrations; 28 x 21 cm. Please visit to purchase your copy.

  • Arvid Nelsen, Curator and Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian

All of Bridwell Library’s publications, including past issues of the Bridwell Quill and Bridwell Quarterly can be found here:

Bridwell Quill – Spring 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Library – February 2019

Bridwell Library announces an exhibition of some of the earliest and most important publications printed in Greek, which runs through May 20, 2019. The selection offers a glimpse into the richness and significance of materials accessible for study and appreciation at Bridwell Library Special Collections. For more information, visit our website.

From the January 2019 Issue of Perspective Online

Bridwell Quill – January 2019

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Winter 2018

The second issue of The Bridwell Quarterly explores hidden aspects of the library’s collections, plus some remarkable encounters with people who have visited the library in recent months.

Click to read the Winter 2018 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

From the December 2018 Issue of Perspective Online

Bridwell Quill – December 2018

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.


From the November 2018 Issue of Perspective Online

Introducing Bridwell Quarterly, a new seasonal publication from Bridwell Library.

“In these pages and those of future publications, we hope to speak as a fellowship of colleagues, who support our patrons, neighbors, and friends. We welcome you all to Bridwell Library and hope that you will enjoy reading about the many events, projects, and activities that are happening in our community.” – Anthony Elia, Bridwell Library Director 

Click to read the Fall 2018 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – November 2018

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.


From the October 2018 Issue of Perspective Online

Perkins Names Anthony Elia New Director of Bridwell Library

Anthony Elia has been named J.S. Bridwell Foundation Endowed Librarian and Director of Bridwell Library at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, effective June 1. He succeeds retiring Director Roberta Schaafsma, who served in that role since April 2007. Read the full release here.

Bridwell Quill – October 2018

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

April 2020 News Perspective Online

A Message from Dean Hill: Such a Time as This

Mordecai’s advice to Esther is applicable to many a pastor, not to mention healthcare worker and first responder, dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to this position for just such a time as this.”

What stands out most in my memory of pastoral appointments as a young adult was the enormous privilege I was given at such an early age. By virtue of my position, I was invited into people’s lives at some of their most significant moments, times both of joy and of sorrow. Who was I that I should officiate at a baptism or a wedding? I vividly recall being awakened by the phone in the middle of the night and rushing to the hospital to assist families whose teenage children had been severely injured in an automobile accident. I was out of my depth, but, by the grace of God, was privileged to be present and to be of some help. I wanted to be a faithful steward of this trust, but I also was keenly aware that I had not earned it. It was a gift.

We are living in the midst of exceptional–and, for all but a few, unparalleled–circumstances. This is true for us here at Perkins as it is for millions of others across the globe. As you will read in our lead article, we have moved all classes online, and most faculty and staff are now working from home. Many of them as well as a number of our students have a spouse and children who also must work or attend school from their residence, making for tight quarters and strained Internet connections.

In the great scheme of things, these are small sacrifices, mostly inconveniences. By contrast, I learned only minutes ago of the death of a former student’s wife due to Covid-19. Sadly, we will all hear more such stories before this is over. As they say, this is getting real. We who are blessed with health, energy, and resources are now challenged to minister as never before, in kind but perhaps also in degree. Needs that might have seemed abstract and distant just a week or two ago are now tangible and drawing close.

So much of life is routine and therefore forgettable, but I imagine we will all remember how we responded in this hour. It is understandable that we should feel some anxiety, some unclarity, in the midst of so much uncertainty. Who would have thought last year that simply entering a crowded grocery store might seem a risk? We are all under threat, as were the Jewish people in the story of Esther. Like her, given our position, what is it we are specially called to do? Whatever it is, it is a privilege, a grace, a gift.

It is enormously heartening to read about the creative responses of so many generous and dedicated people, including of course Perkins students and graduates, to the present crisis. We would like to hear about and share more of these stories with you.

Please share your stories in the “Comments” section below.  Your name and e-mail address are required.  Thank you.

April 2020 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Hello from all of us in the Perkins OEM (Office of Enrollment Management)!

We want to stay closely connected with you amid the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and let you know that we have strengthened our accessibility so that you can continue to receive the information you need seamlessly and without delay. Because the priority for our SMU community is good health and safety for all, including our families, we are providing services virtually across campus. For the foreseeable future, classes will be held online, and visits to campus and in-person meetings have been restricted.

As your Enrollment Management team, our commitment to you does not change. Our promise is to continue our engagement by offering opportunities to meet with our associates by telephone or Zoom meetings. Of course, we will respond immediately to your emails, as well.

You may schedule Zoom meetings with any one of our team members by emailing or calling by phone:

Caleb Palmer, Ministry Discernment Associate | 214-768-2292

  • Vocational ministry discernment
  • Theological education classes at Perkins
  • Perkins community, faculty and student body
  • Various aspects of the Dallas community
  • Degree/Programming questions
  • Prospective student opportunities


Samantha Stewart, Ministry Discernment Associate | 214-768-3385

  • Vocational ministry discernment
  • Theological education classes at Perkins
  • Perkins community, faculty and student body
  • Various aspects of the Dallas community
  • Degree/Programming questions
  • Prospective student opportunities


Stephen Bagby, Director of Recruitment and Admission | 214-768-2139

  • Admission requirements and process
  • Academic degree programs
  • Internship opportunities
  • Various aspects of the Dallas community



Christina Rhodes, Financial Aid Coordinator | 214-768-3411

  • Financial aid packages and opportunities
  • Outside scholarships for all students
  • Opportunities for United Methodist Church students




Jean Nixon, Recruitment and Admission Operations Coordinator & Financial Literacy Coordinator | 214-768-4643

  • Application requirements
  • Financial literacy program opportunities
  • Interest in planning for future financial literacy programming
  • Ways to maintain financial health



Margot Perez-Greene, Associate Dean of Enrollment Management | 214-768-3332

  • Schedule Zoom meetings with current students and faculty



Above all, we wish good health for you, your family and loved ones and encourage you to practice social distancing so that we can help to mitigate the continued spread of this virus.

We want to hear from you and look forward to connecting with you soon. If you have questions, please connect with the team at:

Be encouraged, and encourage others. Our hope for you is that you find peace and comfort even in days of uncertainty.

The Rev. Margot Perez-Greene, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Enrollment Management

April 2020 News Perspective Online

COVID-19: Perkins Responds

Even though the campus was uninhabited, more than 50 members of the Perkins community managed to worship together on March 25. Faculty, students and staff assembled via the online platform Zoom for a virtual service led by Mark Stamm and three students, with Alyce McKenzie preaching.

Perkins online worship service

Despite a few bumps along the way – in the form of unmuted mikes and occasionally out-of-kilter congregational prayers and singing – attendees welcomed the chance to gather.

“I’m thankful we can connect spiritually, despite our physical distancing,” said Ruben Habito, one of the virtual attendees.

The online chapel service is one example of how the Perkins community has come together and adapted in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic: with creativity, mutual support and empathy.

With classes meeting online for the rest of the semester, Perkins students at the Dallas campus pivoted quickly to master online learning platforms. Alumni serving in churches invented new ways to worship and foster community while practicing social distancing. Faculty members pitched in with resources, insights and perspective to support preachers and pastors in that effort.

Today, the future is uncertain. No decision has been made yet about graduation. Government officials are warning citizens to expect the shutdown to continue. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of the ways members of the Perkins community have stepped up to the challenge.

Perkins Faculty: Providing Tools for the Challenge

On Sunday, March 15, most churches in the North Texas area moved their worship services to online platforms. The Office of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations and Perkins worship and music faculty quickly assembled “Resources for Worship, Preaching and Staying Connected as Community,” a list of resources and tips for preaching and worshiping using online platforms. The page includes tips and guides, such as A Beginner’s Guide to Church Live Streaming
and How to Use Facebook Live: The Ultimate Guide.

In a blog post, Alyce McKenzie, director of the Center for Preaching Excellence, tackled the question, “How can we preachers appreciate and make the best use of this mandatory opportunity to preach to an empty room?” She wrote, “Our current situation calls for a change in wording of the childhood rhyme ‘Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and there are the people.’ Our revised COVID-19 version is, ‘Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, where are the people?’ The answer is, at home.” Read Dr. McKenzie’s blog  “Preaching to an Empty Room” and Preaching to an Empty Room Part Two.  Also listen to Dr. McKenzie on the Louisiana NOW Podcast, “Preaching to an Empty Room, A Conversation with Alyce McKenzie, sponsored by The United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana.  

The page also includes insights about music and online worship from Dr. Marcell Silva Steuernagel, United Methodist Communications and Discipleship Ministries.

Dr. Silva Steuernagel, Assistant Professor of Church Music and Director of M.S.M. Program at Perkins, offers some insights on how “do church” online in a variety of ways in his new blog “Doing Church’ Online: Some Insights.”

“We are living a unique moment, and the learning curve involved in this transition might be uncomfortable for some of us,” he said. “People need Jesus’s message of hope and love as we move through this season of confinement and uncertainty.”

When worship services move online, what happens to Communion? United Methodists have already grappled with that question for years. In 2013, a group of United Methodist leaders called for a moratorium on online Communion and requested an in-depth study of the issue. Read this story from Discipleship Ministries for insights on this issue, which includes a link to Dr. Mark Stamm’s article on the topic, “Online Communion and the COVID-19 Crisis Problems and Alternatives.”

Perkins Alums: Going Virtual

Rebecca Guldi Tankersley (M.Div. ’15)

With Dallas County virtually shut down, and large gatherings prohibited, churches in the North Texas Conference and beyond were challenged to find ways to preach, worship and minister to their congregations and their communities while practicing social distancing. Many Perkins alumni/ae experimented with new approaches.

Rebecca Guldi Tankersley (M.Div. ’15), Associate Rector at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, is praying the Daily Office online (9 a.m. Morning Prayer, Noon Prayer, 6 p.m. Evening Prayer and 9 p.m. Compline). Morning Prayer is hosted on Transfiguration’s Facebook page, and the rest of the Daily Office may be viewed from Tankersley’s Facebook page. Follow along with each day’s written prayers here.

Rev. Pam White (M.Div. ’14)

The Rev. Pam White (M.Div. ’14) senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Rowlett, Texas, addressed church members via Facebook.

“We want to be the church in the best way that we can,” she told parishioners. “We want to know what’s going on in your life, and we want to support you. At a time like this, we need to be church, together, for the world.” She is coordinating with the mayor, businesses and others in the city of Rowlett to coordinate citywide efforts and to respond to needs.

“We already serve weekend backpacks for 90 kids in several schools,” she said. “We will make sure those needs are still met.”

Two Perkins alums were featured in a United Methodist News story about how small churches are coping during the crisis, including the Rev. Vic Casad, superintendent of the East District of the North Texas Conference (D.Min. ’94) and the Rev. JB Bryant, pastor of Poetry United Methodist Church, about 40 miles from Dallas (M.Div. ’18).

Pastor Larry Terrell Crudup (M. Div. ’14)

Pastor Larry Terrell Crudup (M. Div. ’14) has launched multiple virtual and telephone-based platforms to keep members of Tabernacle Baptist Church of Oklahoma City connected and cared for. Using a free conference call number, anyone can participate in Wednesday noonday prayer (12 p.m. every Wednesday) and Bible study (every Wednesday at 7 p.m.) or listen to an audio recording of Sunday worship (Sundays at 11 a.m.) by phone.  To join, call 563-999-1001 and use access code is 477619#.  For Sunday worship, a small group of church leaders records worship on Thursday, which is then streamed on YouTube Live on Sunday morning at 11 a.m.  Join live at or view recorded videos at the church’s YouTube channel.  Crudup adds that the church also maintains a telephone tree, an important option for those older members who may not be tech savvy.  “I record a 2-minute message of encouragement, which goes out to all of the families in the church, or to groups of families, each week,” he said.

Victoria Sun Esparza (M.Div. ’19) created an online resource page for the COVID-19 crisis. The page has resources for parents and families as well as some new articles and mental health resources. “Please share with your congregations,” she said on Facebook. “Many parents need extra support right now.”

Hannah E. Cruse (MSM, ’19) has recorded six hymn videos with piano accompaniment and text “so that people can sing together even if they can’t go to church together.” You can find that Youtube playlist here. She is taking requests, so email her at! Cruse just released a free singing workshop geared toward volunteer singers available here — an option for choir members who may enjoy brushing up on their singing technique while stuck at home. Cruse also started a Facebook fundraiser to assist church musicians who rely on weekly income from churches and are now out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. She writes, “Some churches are still paying their musicians even though services are cancelled, but most churches cannot afford to keep this up.” Stay informed about Cruse’s work by joining her mailing list at The Church Musician’s Assistant.

Many students and alumni expressed gratitude for the instruction they received at Perkins, which prepared them to quickly adjust and move worship services into the virtual realm at the churches they serve.

Rebecca Garrett Pace (M.S.M. ‘13), Director of Worship at White Rock United Methodist Church in Dallas, wrote, “I’m remembering the heated debate we had in my Word & Worship class [now Introduction to Christian Worship] many years ago about virtual/online communion. Rethinking my stance currently … Thank you, Perkins, for helping me think critically, creatively and calmly when it seems so hard to do so!”

Perkins Students: Pivoting for the Duration

Before leaving for Spring Break, Perkins students underwent training for the online meeting platform Zoom. Now they are completing their education this semester online.

Bridwell Library is closed to walk-ins until further notice. Virtual help for library services can be found by visiting the library’s Get Help page at Updated library hours for Virtual Help ONLY are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At least one student has singlehandedly brought a church into the digital age. Gina Hahn (M.Div. ’20) has helped launch online worship at the church where she is serving as a pastoral intern.

Ridgewood Park United Methodist Church had never done live stream or videotaped worship services. Since March 12, Hahn has created video training, done one-on-one set-ups to get connected to Facebook, Zoom and other social media platforms, run the Facebook live streaming worship and set up the church’s YouTube Channel.

“The feedback during worship and afterward has been amazing,” she said. “We have a diverse community that comprises families with young children to a huge (majority) group of seasoned members ages 60-98. During this crisis, it has been a blessing to see God at work. Because of the capability of Facebook live streaming, which is a free platform, we have witnessed people from other states, some as far away as Hawaii and Georgia, get reconnected with their church home that they grew up in and reconnect with members during worship through the comment section of the Facebook live streaming.”

Hahn credits her Perkins education for her ability to quickly adjust.

“A big shout out to thank our beloved Perkins professors: Wes Allen and Alyce McKenzie for their Intro to Preaching class, and Mark Stamm for his Intro to Worship class,” she said. “You taught us, prepared us and videotaped us. We had to watch ourselves … so that we could become better clergy, ministers and lay leaders. We could not be creating these online worship experiences throughout the North Texas Conference and beyond without your guidance!”

Other Perspectives

Faculty weighed in with insights from their various academic perspectives. On Facebook, Robert Hunt, director of the Global Theological Education program, offered insights into Islamic law in a short video presentation and shared a statement relating to COVID-19 from the Islamic Society of North America and other groups. He noted, “It is always useful to know how our neighbors of a different religion reason in a time of crisis. This statement comes from the most important American Islamic groups. It is a great example of how Muslims think through a crisis from both Scripture and first principles.”

Ted Campbell, Professor of Church History, offered a reminder that history teaches us that crises often spur positive change. In a talk to Texas Annual Conference extension ministers a few years ago, he described the origins of the Houston Methodist Hospital – built as a response to the global influenza pandemic of 1918. Today, it’s one of the top medical centers in the nation.

“Protestants in many areas of the United States did not really get seriously into healthcare until the influenza pandemic of 1918,” he said. “Up to that point, at least in many areas like Texas, Catholics had the long lead in creating healthcare institutions and infrastructures.”

And, as he often does in difficult times, Hal Recinos offered new poems that speak to the new reality of the Perkins community and the world.

Pandemic ©
illness is a creeping thing
floating in the air inhaled,
falling on the surfaces of
ordinary things, like God
who never talks or a microbe
impossible for the naked eye
to see. you wonder with all
the calls for social distance
aiming for better health of
the things that trail behind
you or the storybook days
you took for granted nudged
closer to the dark or the heads
turning with laughter in the
places you now miss. time
has never moved more slowly
and the end you see no one has
yet imagined yet here we are
waiting for it to ring louder than
the phone and gorgeously dressed
with formal notice.
h. j. Recinos

April 2020 News Perspective Online

M.S.M. Reunion

In honor of its 60th anniversary, Perkins’ Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.) program had a family reunion.

More than 50 graduates gathered at the SMU Perkins campus in Dallas on March 9-11 for three days of events celebrating the Master of Sacred Music program’s heritage. Attendees included those working as music directors and musicians in churches, at the denominational level and in professional networks, and ranged from recent grads to two from the earliest years of the program, who graduated in 1972 and 1977.

“The reunion is a way of connecting graduates to the legacy and heritage of the program and its future, and connecting our department with the concerns of those working in the field professionally today,” said Marcell Silva Steuernagel, director of the Master of Sacred Music program at Perkins and coordinator of the gathering. “Professionals have their ear to the ground as to the state of church music in a way that we don’t.”

The reunion kicked off on March 9 with opening worship in Perkins Chapel and a reception at the Meadows School of the Arts, followed by a Hymn Sing at White Rock Alehouse. Attendees had ample time to reconnect over meals and breaks.

“We heard a lot of positive feedback that the reunion was organized but not too packed,” said Steuernagel. “That was intentional; we wanted to give people time to talk and to reminisce.”

On Tuesday, attendees heard a presentation on the State of the Field of Church Music with Monique Ingalls, a researcher and church musician who teaches at Baylor University.

“The crux of my argument today is that the study of Christian music-making today is, in many ways, an ‘outsider art,’” she said. “Much of the scholarship is directly related to the contributions of outsiders of various sorts.”

In the mid-2000s, Ingalls noted, scholarly audiences didn’t care about Christian publishing labels or what was on the Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) Top 25.

“It took several years for some of my ethnomusicologist sistren and brethren to stop being struck by the ‘novelty’ of rock bands in American churches,” she said.

The academic study of growing Christian communities in other parts of the world, however, has begun to change that. “Any form of church music that is sung by half a billion people every Sunday – give or take one or two hundred million – should probably receive some scholarly attention,” she said.

Next, several M.S.M. alumni weighed in on a panel discussion on the State of the Profession of Church Music, moderated by Christian Anderson, Associate Professor of Sacred Music, and followed by open discussion. The panelists included Ann Ables (M.S.M. ’83), Ed Gibson (M.S.M. ’06), Kristen Hanna (M.S.M. ’12), Mark Pope (M.S.M. ’99) and Diana Sanchez-Bushong (M.S.M. ’86).

“We don’t have that captive audience that we used to,” said Kristen Hanna, who is associate pastor of Christ United Methodist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When choir members are aging and dwindling in number, she said, “It looks like decline, but it sparks a lot of creativity. When I look at what this could mean for the church in America and the global church, it’s really exciting.”

“Death gets a bad rap among Christians,” said the Rev. Dr. Cynthia A. Wilson (M.S.M. ’86), executive director of Worship Resources for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. She made the analogy of pruning roses to create more beautiful blooms in the next season. “Fifty years ago, some people thought the church would die if they let people like me [African Americans] in. The church has lived, has it not? I wonder if it would be here if something hadn’t died?”

Steuernagel concluded the Tuesday discussions with a talk, “What Comes Next?”

“I talked about shifting paradigms, from choral and organ music to a more multimodal approach,” he said. “We need that connection between professionals and researchers, and collaboration between churches, academic partners, the alumni community, performative content, global partners and para-organizations.”

Tuesday evening, a Sacred Music Banquet honored the legacy of Jane Marshall, a popular author of hymns and longtime teacher at Perkins, who passed away in 2019.

Five alumni of the M.S.M. program were also honored during the reunion: Christopher Scott Anderson (M.S.M. ’91), David L. Bone (M.S.M. ’85), Swee Hong Lim (林瑞峰) (M.S.M. ’96), Diana Sanchez-Bushong (M.S.M. ’86) and Cynthia A. Wilson (M.S.M. ’86).

On Wednesday, the group heard a keynote address by Mel Bringle, a professor of philosophy and religion and coordinator of interdisciplinary studies at Brevard College in Brevard, North Carolina. The closing worship service for the reunion was prepared and led by the current M.S.M. faculty and the Seminary Singers, composed of current M.S.M. students.

Steuernagel called the event a success, in that it met the goal of re-invigorating alumni involvement in the Sacred Music program.

“At a Q&A, alumni were asking, ‘What can we do?’” he said. “That told me that we had hit a home run.”

April 2020 News Perspective Online

Shurden Lectures

Religious pluralism isn’t just a good way to run a civil society; it’s a value upheld by many religious traditions. That was a key message shared by Eboo Patel, featured speaker for the 2020 Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures, held March 5. The event drew more than 100 people to the campus of SMU.

The lectures were hosted by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the Baptist House of Studies-Perkins School of Theology at SMU in cooperation with Faith Commons.

Patel is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Corps (IFYC) and a national leader in efforts to make interfaith cooperation a social norm.

In his keynote in Perkins Chapel, Patel noted that religious freedom in the United States has historically been “advanced by people of strong religious conviction in a way that benefited people outside of their own communities.”

Patel cited the writings of Roger Williams, a 17th-century Puritan minister and founder of the colony of Rhode Island, and a passage from the Flushing Remonstrance, a 17th-century document protesting the persecution of Quakers in what is now Flushing, Queens, New York. The document was signed by Dutch colonists, none of whom were Quakers themselves.

“This was a century before John Locke, James Madison or Thomas Jefferson articulated principles of religious freedom,” Patel said. “Underlying these ideas is a spiritual thirst and a religious conviction. It’s not just about the best way to run a government. It’s about what it means to be a Christian.”

Two Central Stories

After joking about the risk of exegeting a New Testament passage before a group of Christians, Patel, who is Muslim, recalled the story of the good Samaritan. He called the parable “a religious call to partner with those with whom we doctrinally disagree … a call to love and heal and partner with ‘the other.’”

“Who passes the wounded man in the story? The people with the ‘right’ religion,” he said. “Who stops? The person who prays to God in the ‘wrong’ way.”

The story ends with Jesus’ command to “Go and do likewise.”

“This is not a story about being a nice person or a good citizen,” Patel said. “It’s a story Jesus tells in response to a question about how to obtain eternal life. You may have to ‘go and do likewise’ and your eternal life may depend on it.”

Patel also shared a story from the Muslim tradition, in which the first person to recognize Mohammed as the prophet is a Christian monk, who never converted to Islam.

“This story is as central as the story of the good Samaritan, and it says that those with whom you doctrinally disagree ought to be able to thrive because you may learn something from them,” he said. “Your eternal life may depend on it. I believe in religious pluralism not just because I’m an American but also because I’m a Muslim.”

Patel also shared a conversation with George Mason, senior pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, who noted Baptists’ historic emphasis on religious pluralism. However, Mason said, that emphasis has become less important in some Baptist communities.

“I think Baptists actually regressed when we became plentiful in the South,” he said. “We forgot we had these principles. It became easier for us to act with a majoritarian consciousness.”

Patel noted that the concept of America as a “Judeo-Christian nation” is a relatively recent invention and one that had little historical basis.

“Jews didn’t do that great in Christendom for most of the millennium,” he said. “It is a brilliant civic invention that sends the message that we are a nation that welcomes the contributions of Jews and Catholics. That’s a new narrative that was literally invented less than 100 years ago.”

During the 1920s, some 3-4 million Americans were members of the Ku Klux Klan and subscribed to its racist, anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish ideology. In 1927, the National Conference for Christians and Jews (now the National Conference for Community and Justice) was formed to transform the notion of America as an exclusively white Protestant domain.

“So, what comes next?” Patel said. “I don’t know what the new narrative will be. Ask 19- and 20-year-olds.”

A Look to the Future

Patel concluded his visit with an afternoon talk before an audience that included SMU undergraduate students from three Religious Studies classes.

“It’s exciting for me to be on campus, meeting the people who are writing the next chapters of American society that I can’t even dream of,” he said.

Patel highlighted the need for interfaith cooperation in addressing key social issues and encouraged young people to foster that. He described his tour of the Chicago Food Repository, which serves low-income and food insecure people in the greater Chicago area. Of the Repository’s 650 distribution centers, 500 are based in faith communities. Volunteers from different faith groups come to the Repository to sort and package food, often at the same time.

“A lot of our civil society looks like this,” Patel said. “Outside of government-based resources, your biggest resource is faith communities. Mobilizing those requires interfaith cooperation and connection.”

Patel again recalled the words of Roger Williams and the Flushing Remonstrance, adding that religious freedom – the idea of many religions flourishing under one government – was considered impossible before the founding of the United States of America.

“The United States started with the idea that people who believe different things can live together,” he said. “That’s where we get the America we have now.”

April 2020 News Perspective Online

Student Spotlight: Carlene Barbeau

As part of her theological education, Perkins student Carlene Barbeau resorted to “baptizing” a fuzzy blue stuffed animal named Doggie. It’s just one example of how she’s juggling her studies and her family life: with faith, grace and a little ingenuity.

Barbeau started in the fall of 2018 in the inaugural class of Perkins’ Houston-Galveston hybrid program and expects to graduate with an M.Div. in May 2021. Perkins, the only United Methodist seminary currently offering a hybrid program, has been a good fit.

“I needed online for my lifestyle, and I needed in-person for my learning,” said Barbeau, who lives in Tampa, Florida, along with her husband and two sons, ages 8 and 4.

Doggie’s baptism was an assignment for Prof. Mark Stamm’s Baptism and the Eucharist Practicum class. As part of their education, hybrid program students record themselves completing activities – delivering sermons or practicing liturgies – then post the videos online for feedback from peers. Barbeau performed the ritual in front of her two sons and her older son’s young friend.

“Doggie is my son’s stuffed animal, and he goes everywhere we go,” she said. “We all try to incorporate our families in these practicum exercises when we can, because they sacrifice so that we can study.”

Apparently, the baptism made an impression. Afterward, the friend asked his mother about getting baptized himself. As a result, his family joined Barbeau’s family’s church, St. James United Methodist Church.

“It was a really cool ministry moment,” she said.

Hospital Chaplaincy

 A certified deacon candidate in the Florida conference of the United Methodist Church, Barbeau is preparing to become a hospital chaplain. She’s a second career student, having worked in academic and nonprofit fundraising.

“I was called into ministry at age 16 at a summer camp,” she said. “But I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, so I didn’t understand where God would be able to use me. It took 22 years of discernment to figure it out.”

Part of her passion for chaplaincy work stems from growing up with a brother who had cerebral palsy, a father with mental health issues and elderly grandparents who had multiple medical problems. Her interest in chaplaincy was another reason why Perkins was a good fit – Houston-Galveston holds some of its classes at Houston Methodist Hospital.

“There’s something about going into a Moral Theology class and coming out and seeing a family in the midst of making decisions, or mourning after a death, that makes it real,” she said.

‘Houston Family’

 Before enrolling in the Houston-Galveston program, Barbeau took a few online-only theology classes from another institution but struggled.

“I felt isolated,” she said. “It was incredibly difficult. I’m a connectional person; taking courses alone at home is not how I learn best. With Perkins, I already have a network of friends that I call my ‘Houston family.’ We talk to one another two or three times a week. When classes meet in person in Houston, we rent a house via AirBnB and stay together. We know one another’s families. I didn’t realize how badly I needed that until I had it at Perkins.”

Grounding Barbeau through the demands of raising two young children and studying full time is her favorite Bible verse, John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

Barbeau said, “In this season for me, of change and living between two worlds, the day-to-day and the seminary, knowing God is present in both, and that God has called me, brings a lot of peace.”

April 2020 News Perspective Online

Faculty Profile: O. Wesley Allen

For the past two years, much of Wes Allen’s attention has been focused on a less-than-glamorous but important project: accreditation. He led the self-study team for Perkins’ accreditation through the Association of Theology Schools.

“It’s a process of bringing together all the groups related to the seminary to investigate and evaluate how we are doing in relation to the standards,” he said.

The process culminated in February with a visit to the Perkins campus by the ATS site committee members. While official word won’t come until the accreditation committee meets in June, he said, “The process on our end is complete, and we are pleased with the feedback we have received thus far.”

Back to Work

Now that that’s over, Allen’s full attention returns to one of his primary research interests, preaching and the Synoptic Gospels, and in particular, a commentary on the Gospel of Mark that he’s working on.

“I’m focused on a literary reading of Mark,” he said. “The commentary will take an overarching view of Mark and how you can preach on individual passages from that kind of reading.

“Imagine reading A Tale of Two Cities, with all of its use of symbolism, foreshadowing and other literary devices throughout the book,” he said. “Now imagine you preach a sermon on just one scene of the book. How do you do justice to the whole narrative while focusing on the specifics of the narrower scene?”

Allen also views Mark as a parable that twists the story of Jesus known to the original readers in order to offer them a new understanding of Jesus and discipleship. The twist is especially evident in how the gospel ends. Like the other gospels, Mark has an empty tomb story, but the women go away and tell no one about the resurrected Jesus. Assuming the original readers already knew some version of the resurrection story, Mark’s ending would challenge them to reconsider the content of their faith in Jesus and their model of discipleship.

Teaching Preachers

Allen also teams up with Alyce McKenzie and Perkins’ Center for Preaching Excellence to help pastors refine and improve their preaching skills. He runs peer groups and helps lead one-day workshops called The Preacher’s Toolbox.

“These are for preachers who are not seminary trained but are faithfully trying to serve the church,” he said. “They’ve had very little introduction to homiletical, critical or exegetical thought. We thought about what resources we could offer, what basic skills would help them better structure a sermon, and condensed that into The Preacher’s Toolbox.”

The typical participant is a pastor in a small rural church without an extensive academic background or access to a theology library. Many of the participants are bivocational, juggling sermon preparation and study with a second job, family and personal life, and other pastoral duties.

“We teach the same things we’d teach across a semester in an Introduction to Preaching course but we boil it down to the basic elements,” he said. 

Teaching Specialties

Introduction to preaching, preaching the New Testament; exegesis for preaching; preaching in postmodernism; preaching through the liturgical year; theology in preaching; prophetic preaching; preaching in the context of worship

Research Interests

Preaching in postmodernity; conversational homiletics; cumulative approaches to preaching; preaching and the Synoptic Gospels; preaching and the human condition


His wife, Bonnie Cook, is executive director of the Mental Health Association of Greater Dallas; daughter Maggie Cook-Allen will graduate from SMU in May with majors in political science and philosophy.


Two dogs, both rescues – Phoebe and Lydia (named after “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” a song sung by Groucho Marx)

Books on His Nightstand

At the invitation of Perkins faculty member Evelyn Parker, Allen will participate in a panel discussion on practical theology and bioethics later this year, so he’s reading introductory works in bioethics lately – and getting some input from his daughter on the subject.

Fantasy Dinner Party

“I went through my theological education when we learned about Karl Barth, Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann, who were incredibly influential,” he said. “Since then my thinking and faith have also been shaped by feminist and liberation theologians, like Rosemary Radford Ruether, James Cone, Delores Williams, Gustavo Gutiérrez and Sallie McFague. I’d love to get the two generations together and watch that conversation.”


Allen plays disc golf at the parks in Dallas. It’s a combination of golf and Frisbee – players follow a golf course and aim to land flying discs in baskets along the way.

Signature Dish

Barbecued pulled pork. “I grew up in the southeast,” Allen said. “In Alabama, BBQ is not brisket. BBQ has to come from a pig. My mission is to get people in Texas to appreciate pulled pork.”

Question He’d Ask at the Pearly Gates

“I’d just ask, ‘Why?’ Whoever answers – God or St. Peter – gets to pick how to interpret and answer that question.”

Spiritual Practice

Research and writing. Citing a rabbinical saying, ‘An hour of study is an hour of prayer in the eyes of God,’ Allen says research and writing are his central spiritual disciplines. “I’m really fed by reading other scholars and being in a room alone asking a question and figuring out how I want to answer that question for a public audience,” he said.

April 2020 News Perspective Online

New Partnership: Central Methodist University

As a Perkins grad and a Central Methodist University trustee, Bishop Bob Farr saw a need for a stronger link between the two institutions. Farr, who is bishop of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church, worked his dual connections to forge that link.

That vision will become reality as SMU and Perkins sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Central Methodist University (CMU) in Fayette, Missouri.

As part of the agreement, Perkins will offer a pathway for preferred consideration and early decision for admission to graduates of CMU, and students at CMU will have enhanced opportunities to learn about Perkins as a graduate school option.

“Right now, we have no students from the Missouri Conference currently at Perkins,” said Farr, who earned his M.Div. at Perkins in 1985. “A few years ago, Dean Hill asked me why. I told him that nobody in Missouri knew about Perkins.”

Also, Farr added, some church leaders were reluctant to recommend Perkins because Missouri students who studied at Perkins often didn’t return. The 2018 launch of Perkins’ Houston-Galveston hybrid program, which combines online learning with classroom instruction, eliminated that objection.

Farr believes that having more clergy from Perkins will be a bonus for the Missouri Conference.

“I’d like to have a mix of people from different seminaries in Missouri,” he said. “I think that’s healthier.”

Farr has served on the board of trustees for CMU off and on for years, and notes that the school is not only thriving but working to strengthen programs that attract students with an interest in ministry.

“CMU is bucking every trend that’s affecting the small private universities,” he said. “Enrollment has been up year after year. The school has a robust online program, with numerous satellite campuses across Missouri, and they have revitalized the student body on campus too.”

Stronger ties between the schools makes strategic sense. As stated in the MOU document, “CMU and SMU share a common heritage within the United Methodist Church and are committed to the training of students for ministry. With the MOU, both institutions seek to create an efficient, streamlined potential path from undergraduate study at CMU to graduate study at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.”

April 2020 News Perspective Online

Seven Last Words

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Black Seminarians Association (BSA) at Perkins School of Theology will carry on with the annual Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, April 10, beginning at 7 p.m.

The service, which has now been pre-recorded in order to follow Dallas’s shelter-in-place mandate, is sponsored by St. Paul United Methodist Church in downtown Dallas. Each speaker has recorded his or her sermon from a shelter-in-place location and the music and additional service components have been compiled by the St. Paul media and music ministry, led by Jason Ward.  The online service will begin at 7 p.m. Central Time.

Seven Last Words will be available via Facebook, YouTube and live stream, accessible by way of the church’s website at

The special Good Friday service, called “Seven Last Words,” is an African American tradition woven around the last utterances of Christ before his death on a cross. Four years ago, the BSA of Perkins School of Theology hosted its inaugural Seven Last Words service at St. Luke “Community” UMC, and now it’s quickly becoming a Perkins tradition, too.

“The experience is rooted in liberation theology,” said LaTasha Roberts, BSA co-president. “This year’s program will culminate the BSA’s 2019-2020 theme, Strengthened Through the Struggle, based on 1 Peter 5:10-11. The message relates to how we all struggle, and through God’s grace, restoration is available.”

The annual program serves to give voice to emerging preachers while raising funds for the programmatic needs of the BSA. Online donations are welcomed and can be designated for the Zan Wesley Holmes Fund at Perkins School of Theology.

“The tradition is giving voice to the up-and-coming generation of pastors,” Roberts said. “It’s another platform and another ministry opportunity to prophetically proclaim hope to oppressed peoples.”

This year’s worship celebration is coordinated by Roberts (M.Div. ‘20) along with BSA co-president Jeremiah Johns (M.Div. ‘20) and advocacy chair Samuel Spraggins (M.Div. ’21). The service will contain somber elements – such as a stripping of the altar, followed by the exit of worshipers, in silence, at the end. But other elements are rooted in the “homegoing experience” – the celebratory, sometimes revival-like funeral tradition of the African American church. Musical groups and praise dancers from St. Paul UMC, St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church of the Disciple will participate in the event.

The Rev. Bryant Phelps (D.Min. ’17), a Perkins grad and now senior pastor of Church of the Disciple in DeSoto, was the visionary behind the original event, and will serve as one of this year’s speakers. Tamara Lewis is the Perkins faculty advisor.

While the 2017 and 2018 events were held at nearby United Methodist churches, “This year’s location was selected to return home to the oldest and most historic Black/African American United Methodist church in the UMC denomination,” said Roberts. St. Paul’s senior pastor, Richie Butler, is a member of Perkins’ Executive Board.

Seven preachers, all Perkins students or alumni, will each offer a seven-minute sermon on each of the Seven Last Words. They are:

Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Minister Wallace Wyatt III, Christ Dominion International Fellowship, Perkins student

Luke 23:43: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Amy Canon, Perkins student

John 19:26–27: “Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” – Minister Christian Watkins, Perkins alumnus (M.Div. ’19) and Wendland Fellow for Faith and Justice with the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS)

Matthew 27:46: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” – Rev. Bryant Phelps (M. Div. ’17)

John 19:28: “I thirst.” – Rev. Dr. Shazetta Thompson-Hill, Perkins alumna (D.Min. ‘19), Christian Chapel Temple of Faith Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

John 19:30: “It is finished.” – Cheryl Roseborough, NFIM/Self-Esteemed Elevated, Perkins student

Luke 23:46: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” – Rev. Dr. Rochelle Carr, Perkins alumna (M.Div. ’01), Path Forward Empowerment