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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.

December 2019 News Perspective Online

A Message from Dean Hill: Joy to the World

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11) 

I wrote last month about the subject of joy, focusing on the perspective of C. S. Lewis. I have reflected often on the subject since, in part because of the approach of Advent. As you know, joy is frequently associated with Christmas, as in the famous text of Luke quoted above and, of course, in the great Isaac Watts carol Joy to the World.

Indeed, one chapter earlier in Luke, an angel announces to Zechariah, “You will have joy and gladness” (1:14), and several months later Elizabeth tells Mary, “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy” (1:44). Similar­ly, we are told in Matthew that the wise men, upon realizing their goal, “were overwhelmed with joy” (2:10).

Scripture contains many dozens of other references to joy. Nehemiah 8:10b proclaims, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” According to the Psalms, in God’s “presence there is fullness of joy” (16:11), and “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes with the morning” (30:5). Joy is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament beyond the Gospels. In Galatians 5:22, it is listed second only to love as a fruit of the Spirit.

In light of all the Bible says about joy, it is strange that so many of us so often find it difficult to believe in or to trust joy. We have no such problem with, say, disappoint­ment, a solid and substantial feeling, whose reality never comes into question. But joy’s appearance can be suspect, having to pass an almost impossibly high standard of verification. It is a welcome guest, to be sure, but kept under discreet surveillance throughout its visitation.

It hasn’t always been this way for me. Somewhere in the process of growing into adulthood, I experienced enough pain, enough dashed expectations and disillusionment, to become a bit guarded, to learn to hedge my emotional bets. Becoming an academic has worked to accelerate this process, since good scholars live by careful nuance and reservation.

The result is that the negative can become more real, more trusted, than the positive, even though, objectively, one is as genuine as the other. Pain is not described as fleeting, though pleasure often is.

I do not imagine for a minute that I am unusual in this respect. One indication is the finding by psychologists that we weigh negative impressions many times more heavily than positive impressions. The seven good things Joel did before his one mistake are hardly remembered, and if Joel was unlucky enough to err on our first acquaintance, the offense is harder still to overcome. First impressions, at least when they are negative, do seem to play an inordinately large role in human affairs.

Consequently, we might judge others unfairly, even ruthlessly, and we might weigh our own emotions and experiences on a similarly tipped scale. Negative memories are powerfully persistent. Most find it harder to forget humiliation than happiness, and disappointment lingers longer than feelings of success. We need reminding to count our blessings but require no encouragement to supply an account of our misfortunes.

The issue is not just that of personality type, although that’s part of it. Linked to it also is the question of faith. Faith in God, if the Bible is to be believed, orients life toward joy: joy as life’s most genuine and final reality, the bottom line, as it were, to which Christian existence should return, time and again, and the ultimate destiny of our life in God.

It is interesting that one encounters the idea of joy on both ends of the Gospel story. The word is repeated on multiple occasions near the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospel of John, e.g., in 15:11: “I have said these things so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” Looking back decades later, the author of Hebrews could say that Jesus, “for the sake of the joy that was set before him, endured the cross” (12:2). And, of course, the disciples respond with joy to the resurrection in Luke (24:41, 52).

So, a proper goal for this Advent season is, in faith, to believe more in joy, to look back and to look beyond: back to the joyous surprise of Bethlehem, and beyond to God’s joyous future, so that the joy of God might be our strength today.

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management: Now More Than Ever

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

No one knows about the Perkins student experience more than our own alumni. As a graduate of Perkins, you’ve learned firsthand how this community helps students change and be changed and encourages them to find their purpose. Throughout the country, graduates like you are leaders in the field of vocational ministry and serving in a variety of settings from nonprofit agencies, hospitals, churches, colleges and universities.

The path to choosing the right graduate school for theological training is not always easy, and finding the right fit often requires a little bit of help from others. As we read through applications for the spring 2020 and fall 2020 terms, we are grateful to those of you who have written letters of recommendation or encouraged students or parishioners you’ve mentored to visit Perkins.

On December 5, we will host a very special Inside Perkins event on the Dallas campus. Visiting prospective students will be able to:

  • Observe a class
  • Hear the call stories of new students
  • Have a conversation with Dean Craig Hill
  • Learn about the Internship and Global Theological Education programs
  • Enjoy a walking tour of our beautiful Perkins campus
  • Take part in the Financial Literacy Holiday Celebration
  • Attend Advent Worship in our renovated Perkins Chapel

Please encourage those you know who are seeking theological training to visit us for Inside Perkins. There are dates scheduled in the spring semester as well. For information, visit our website here (

As you know, Perkins students are encouraged to live life to the fullest. Here, they take courses that fuel their passion, participate in deep theological conversation and reflection, serve in the community and create lifelong friendships, all the while reaping the benefits of living in the vibrant city of Dallas.

As a member of the Perkins School of Theology community, you’ve experienced firsthand all that Perkins has to offer. If you know prospective students who might be a great fit for Perkins, we encourage you to send their name, email address and telephone number, if you have one to me: Doing so will ensure that the student will receive information about Perkins, including opportunities to visit and academic and admission information.

Now more than ever, we need your help.

Thanks, and God bless!

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

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Office of Development

Each year, Perkins has a number of special events that raise awareness and money for specific needs. The Perkins Scholarship Luncheon is held each February to raise money for student scholarships.

This year’s luncheon will feature New York Times columnist and best-selling author David Brooks, whose remarks will relate to his most recent book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. A few table sponsorships remain. Check with me ( and I will direct you to the registration site.

This is an important event in the yearly calendar of Perkins. Not only is the luncheon an intellectually stimulating event, but it also raises money to support students.

We all know that education is important, but there are some sobering facts that have emerged:

  • Average student loan debt for the American class of recent college graduates was $39,400, up six percent from the previous year.
  • Americans owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, spread out over 44 million borrowers. That’s about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt.

Most graduates of Perkins, or any theological seminary, do not enter into lucrative careers. The type of education we offer is expensive because it is personal, intensive and comprehensive. In spite of that, we do not want our graduates to be saddled with overwhelming debt. That is why events like the Perkins Scholarship Luncheon are so important.

As always, I ask for your help in funding affordable theological education for our Perkins students. Visit our website here ( to make your contribution today.  Why not decide to make your gift recurring, either monthly, quarterly or yearly?

December is a good time to make sure you have contributed to the charitable causes that are especially close to your values. Remember, if your donation is sent by mail, it must be postmarked by December 31 to count in the 2019 tax year. If you are giving online, the gift must be received by that date.

Your gifts help to provide leadership for the church and society for years to come as graduates finish their courses of study and enter into productive service. Thank you for your part in their education.

With a thankful heart,

John A. Martin
Director of Development

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Fall Convocation

With travel writer Rick Steves headlining, this year’s Fall Convocation offered a truly international experience. Attendees heard keynote speakers from three different continents, praise music in 17 different languages and human stories of hope and struggle from around the world.

“I felt like the globe came to Perkins,” said Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean for External Affairs and coordinator of the event. “It all came together in the best possible way.”

Some 150 people attended the convocation, “Mission Quest: Finding Your Place in God’s World,” on November 11-12 at Highland Park United Methodist Church and the campus of SMU. Sharing the stage with Steves were the Reverend Dr. Samira Izadi Page, a native of Iran who leads a ministry to refugees in Dallas, and the Reverend Dr. Célestin Musekura, a Rwandan and founder of African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM).

Travel as a Spiritual Act

Despite temperatures in the 20s, nearly 1,200 people turned up at McFarlin Auditorium on the first evening of the convocation for Rick Steves’ keynote, “Finding Your Place in God’s World: The Road as Church.” (The turnout was boosted thanks to a partnership with KERA radio, which promoted the event and co-hosted a reception beforehand.)

In addition to hosting a PBS travel show and writing numerous travel guides, Steves is an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). Over the course of his career, he noted, his European travel guides have evolved from focusing on practical travel tips (“how to get the train”) to encouraging travelers to appreciate art and history to helping travelers come home with a broader perspective.

“First there are tourists, then there are travelers and then there’s the ultimate: pilgrims,” he said. “A tourist has a bucket list. A tourist takes selfies. A tourist isn’t looking for much transformation. But if you’re only focused on duty-free shopping, you’ve really lost an opportunity. There’s so much to learn.

“The ultimate thing is for us to get to know the other 96% of humanity – to take this opportunity to get over the border and gain an empathy for other people,” he said. “We can learn more about our own home by leaving it. The best souvenir to bring home is a broader perspective.”

Travel challenges notions we assume are common sense, he added. “The normal person on this planet does not sit on something to use the toilet. We think we are the norm. As a traveler you gain that broader perspective, and it wallops your ethnocentricity, and that’s a good thing.”

Steves quoted Pope Francis’ words as a sort of personal travel mantra: “Allow yourself to be amazed.”

“I love that idea,” he said. “In our travels, I love that childlike enthusiasm for whatever I’m learning. I love to go to the cheese-monger in Paris, who says to me, ‘Come over here. Smell this cheese, it smells like zee feet of the angels.’ These people are evangelical about their cheese. This shop is a festival of mold. And he wants me to appreciate it. These are the magic moments.”

He described his first few trips to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and how he felt outrage for all the money spent on the treasures and art, instead of the poor. Later, however, he approached the site through a lens of appreciation.

“I finally realized: I needed to park my Protestant sword at the door,” he said. “If you’re not a Roman Catholic, become a Roman Catholic while you’re inside St. Peter’s Basilica.”

Steves believes that Americans can learn from the European notion of “pragmatic harm reduction” in dealing with social problems, in contrast to a more moralistic approach in the U.S.

“In the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal, a joint is about as exciting as a beer,” he said. “The irony is – they smoke less pot than we do, and less than the European average. When you legalize, use does not go up. Other societies deal with the same problems in different ways, and we can learn from them.”

Steves recently traveled to Iran, where he encountered many contradictions: massive banners advocating “Death to America,” and Iranian people who extended an exceptionally warm welcome. He recalled the Iranian woman who stopped him on the street and asked if he was an American journalist. When he said yes, the woman said, “I want you to go home and tell the truth. We are strong, we are united. We just don’t want our girls to be raised like Britney Spears.”

His experiences in Iran convinced Steves that fear tends to influence us too much, and travel is the antidote.

“I think it’s important to get out, because when you travel, you become less afraid,” he said.

21st-Century Mission

On Monday, the Reverend Dr. Samira Izadi Page (M.Div. ’10, D.Min. ’16) and the Reverend Dr. Célestin Musekura presented a two-part plenary exploring the question, “What is mission in the 21st century?”

Page described her family’s perilous escape from Iran, where she was persecuted as a Shiite Muslim, and their arrival in the U.S. as refugees in 1989. Although born and raised a Muslim, Page began having visions of the Virgin Mary at age 6.

“I knew my life belonged to the church even though I did not know what the church was,” she said.

Page became a Christian, earned two degrees at Perkins and founded Gateway of Grace, a ministry to refugees. She defined mission as “the outworking of God’s benevolent purposes for the healing, restoration and salvation of the world by the power of the Holy Spirit through the church.”

Mission work today, Page said, requires humility and unity – as well as an ability to embrace “the messiness” of mission and a willingness to speak the truth.

Christians in Nigeria, Iran and Pakistan are being persecuted and enslaved, she said. “We don’t talk about these things in the U.S. because it’s not politically correct and we don’t want to fan the flames of Islamophobia. So persecuted Christians get abandoned. How do we speak the whole truth?”

Page shared the story of a refugee, an atheist, who came to Gateway of Grace after he’d been tortured in Iran. The man was wracked with pain because his teeth and feet had been shattered, and he was living in terrible conditions. Thanks to the community and the kindness of people who helped heal his body and provided him with a better home, the man is now part of the Gateway of Grace community, attending and serving faithfully. That’s mission in the 21st century, Page said – reaching one person at a time with the healing that ultimately only Christ can bring.“The agape mind-set says that God wants refugees to know they are loved, through the love of community, the body of Christ, you and I,” she said. “If we can serve one person, and let them know the transforming love of God, that is mission in the 21st century.”

A Ministry of Tears

 Célestin Musekura talked about growing up in a village in Rwanda. His mother had dedicated him as a priest in the village’s animistic spiritual tradition; he spent seven years offering the blood of animals and chickens in hopes of keeping his family safe. He never saw a white man until 1979, when a Baptist missionary named Kyle arrived in his Hutu village.

“The missionary made it clear that only the blood of Christ could redeem me,” he said. “I thought Jesus was the ancestor of this white man, the missionary. But Jesus is not an ancestor of the white people. God is not white or black. He is for everyone.”

Musekura spoke gratefully of a widow in Cleveland, Ohio, named Mary, who paid for his schooling. She learned of the “skinny, ugly boy who needed to go to school,” and even though she had very little, Mary earned extra cash picking up trash at night. She sent the money that paid for his schooling. She passed away five days after Musekura graduated from Bible school in the Congo in 1983.

Mary and Kyle did not live long enough to know that their efforts were not in vain. “But they trusted that God would do something with the skinny, ugly boy,” he said. “They trusted and they worked by faith.” Ultimately, Musekura earned his Ph.D. and became a minister.

The genocide in 1994, Musekura said, “changed the way we perceive missions.” Before 1994, Rwanda had more than 3,000 missionaries, who were ‘succeeding’ because more than 90 percent of Rwandans had become Christians. “But four years later, we murdered one another,” he said. “That’s because the focus was on conversion, not discipleship.”

After the genocide, he said, ministry often consisted of simply crying with people who’d lost family members. To be a missionary, Musekura said, “First you need to be a listener. Listen to their stories before you open your mouth. Feel their pain. Maybe cry with them.”  

Between Musekura’s and Page’s presentations, attendees were treated to a musical program performed by IziBongo, a Dallas-based group named after a genre of South African Zulu praise poetry. Playing instruments from a variety of cultures, the group riffed seamlessly from musical renditions of John 3:16 in Mandarin; to the Lord’s prayer in Dzongkha, a language of Bhutan; to Psalm 136 in Gikyode, a language of Ghana; to an acapella performance of Beethoven’s “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” in English.

Pleasantly Surprised

Malinda Fasol and her husband, Marty Leewright, signed up for the Fall Convocation to hear Rick Steves – but left with much more.

Although the couple has followed his PBS program for years, Fasol said, “We walked away having even more respect for him, because he was able to go deeper spiritually. We really appreciated that.”

“We heard very powerful insights from one of the most well-traveled humans in the world,” added Leewright, who also praised Robert Hunt’s sold-out workshop on Cultural Intelligence, offered as part of the convocation.

The couple – she’s a college professor, he’s an attorney – work together training attorneys, judges, mediators and others. “I found this particularly helpful because we are interested in cross-cultural factors in conflict resolution,” he said. “We learned how we all bring our values into our communications, and how important it is to be aware of the values that others are bringing into the communications.

In the program’s last session, Steves, Page and Musekura answered questions from the audience. Pope-Levison was struck by the diversity of the group and the unity of their message.

“These were three different people doing very different ministries,” she said. “But all were calling on North Americans to open our hearts to refugees and to understand that, as Rick Steves said, we are all God’s children.”

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Retracing Paul’s Steps

Perkins Dean Craig Hill and his wife, Robin Hill.

After his conversion, the apostle Paul traveled more than 10,000 miles proclaiming the Gospel, journeying via Roman roads and by sea, through present-day Israel, Syria, Turkey and Greece. In recent months, two faculty members have taken to the road – both retracing portions of Paul’s travels (and likely a bit more comfortably!)

Craig C. Hill, Dean and Professor of New Testament at Perkins, led a group of laypeople on a cruise, “Journeys of Paul,” with 12 days in Greece, Italy and Malta aboard Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas. The group sailed from Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, with stops in Taomina, Italy; Valletta, Malta; Pompeii, Italy; Athens, Greece; Corinth, Greece; and the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Hill lectured regularly on Paul to a group of about 200 fellow travelers, many from the Dallas area.

“I have taught about Paul and the Pauline epistles for decades, but never in places where Paul himself taught and wrote,” he said. “It brought the apostle to life in new ways.”

Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles in Ephesus.

The Reverend Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, Professor of New Testament and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, traveled on a 14-day trip through Turkey and Greece along with 18 members of Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church in Richardson. The trip was co-hosted by Perkins alum Ellen Dittman (M.Div. ’12), who serves as Associate Pastor of Congregational Care at the church.

“We followed the journeys of Paul and also some of the places mentioned in the book of Revelation: Pergamum, Smyrna, Laodicea,” she said. “We saw the hill that Colossae is on but could not go directly to it, as it’s not yet excavated.”

A favorite stop was “the unbelievably amazing site” of Ephesus, which is crucial for the New Testament, since Paul was there for a long time. “Paul’s own letters and the book of Acts show what an important site that was,” she said. “But the site I found most moving was in Philippi, where Lydia used to gather with a group of women to pray. Here she met Paul and was baptized.” (Acts 16:11-15; 40)

Clark-Soles added that Turkey is known as “the rest of the Holy Land” or “the other Holy Land” because Christianity spread there very quickly.

“It became central to the growth of the church,” she said. “Note how many ecumenical councils occurred there!”

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Advent Worship 60th Anniversary

Every year since 1959, members of the Perkins School of Theology community have gathered for Advent worship. That’ll happen again this year on Thursday, December 5, but with one key change: There will be just one service, at 6 p.m., rather than two services as in the past.

“People’s schedules are very different than they were in 1959,” said Marcell Silva Steuernagel, Assistant Professor of Church Music and Director of the Sacred Music Program at Perkins. “The 6 p.m. time gives us the best of both worlds – late enough for those who want to come after work, and early enough that senior attendees can get home at a reasonable hour.”

The December 5 service will mark three milestones: the 60th anniversary of Perkins’ Master of Sacred Music (MSM) program, the 80th anniversary of the Seminary Singers and the 60th anniversary of the Advent service itself. Advent was first celebrated in Perkins Chapel in 1959, a tradition continued every year since.

The single time slot makes it logistically easier for participation by visiting ensembles and musicians, including three choirs led by alumni of the MSM program. Each will perform at least one anthem, plus there will be a joint performance of all three choirs. The choirs, all from Dallas area churches, include Northaven United Methodist Church (choir directed by Stephanie Rhoades, M.S.M. ’96), University Park United Methodist Church (choir directed by Mark Pope, M.S.M. ’99) and Grace Avenue United Methodist Church of Frisco, Texas (choir directed by Laurie Hanson Roberts, M.S.M. ’90, and Bill Roberts, M.S.M. ’92). The worship will follow the classic Lessons and Carols format, with five lessons from Scripture and five carols, plus a reading of one of Martin Luther’s sermons.

“This service will focus on the legacy of the Advent worship here at SMU,” Steuernagel said. “This legacy revolves around the idea of a community gathered to ‘await together’ the coming of the one who is Emmanuel. As we wait, we sing our expectation together. Because of this the service is not a ‘concert’ in presentational format, but participatory. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear anthems performed by MSM alumni and to sing several classic Christmas hymns as well.”

Steuernagel also plans to incorporate a piece by composer Jane Marshall, who passed away in 2019 and had many ties to SMU and Perkins. He is also composing an original piece for the occasion.

The Advent service was instituted in 1959 by Professors Grady Hardin and Lloyd Pfautsch and is closely tied to the development of Perkins’ Master of Sacred Music program. A forerunner to this tradition was established in 1948, when Perkins Professor Fred Gealy led the Seminary Singers, a nonauditioned ensemble of theology and sacred music students, and the Perkins community in a program of Christmas music during the last chapel service of the fall semester.

Worshipers should allow ample time for parking. Parking for the Advent service will be in the Meadows Parking Center located across the street from Perkins Chapel.

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Distinguished Alumna: Reverend Katherine Glaze Lyle

Watch a full video of the 2019 Perkins Distinguished Alumna Award Banquet here.

The Reverend Katherine Glaze Lyle was honored at a banquet on November 12 as the recipient of the 2019 Perkins Distinguished Alumnus/a Award.

Selected by the Perkins Alumni/ae Council, the award recognizes Perkins graduates who have demonstrated effectiveness and integrity in service to the church, continuing support for the goals of Perkins and Southern Methodist University, outstanding service to the community and exemplary character.

“Katherine’s extensive ties to the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and to numerous nonprofits in the Dallas area have made her a valuable ally of Perkins,” said Craig C. Hill, dean of Perkins School of Theology. “She has been a sounding board for every Perkins dean since her graduation in 1993, including myself.”

Lyle received two degrees in history from SMU – a B.A. in 1971 and an M.A. in 1973 – then earned an M.Div. from Perkins in 1993. She was ordained as an elder in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and served five full-time appointments from 1994 until 2009. At three of her appointments – St. Marks UMC in Mesquite, First UMC in DeSoto and First UMC in Rowlett – she was the first woman to serve as senior pastor.

After retirement, Lyle served as interim pastor at four churches. “Her work as an interim pastor since her retirement has been a lifeline to the congregations to which she was sent,” said the Reverend John Thornburg in a letter nominating Lyle. “Each of those churches received the hope-filled, healing touch they needed after a difficult season.”

Lyle is a member of the Board of Directors for the Texas Methodist Foundation, Chair of the Board of Directors for Dallas Bethlehem Center and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Union Coffee. She is also a Partner and member of the Board of Directors of Dallas Social Venture Partners, which honored her as the first recipient of its Katherine Glaze Lyle Transformational Leadership Award, named in her honor. On the national level, she will become Chair of the Board of Directors for Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places on January 1, 2020.

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Faculty Profile: Jack Levison

If you’ve written a couple of popular books about the Holy Spirit, sooner or later you’ll get pressed into service by local churches. That’s where you’ll find Jack Levison many Sunday mornings: teaching in a church in the North Texas area or beyond.

In recent months, he has completed a four-week series at First United Methodist in Richardson and led a church retreat at FUMC in Missouri City, Texas. Last summer, he led a program on the Holy Spirit at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina, along with his wife, Priscilla Pope-Levison, who is Associate Dean for External Programs and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Perkins. In 2020, he’ll head to the Indianapolis area’s Zionsville UMC to kick off a 40-day, churchwide Lenten study based on one of his books.

“I absolutely love teaching in the church,” he said. “My teaching is basically Bible study, and people are so hungry for good, solid Bible study.”

Recently, he led a class at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, and instead of lecturing as planned, he spent the time answering questions from the congregation.

“When you’re talking about the Holy Spirit, and how we can all experience the Holy Spirit, the questions just bubble up,” he said. 

Book Projects

On top of his teaching at SMU and in churches, Levison has two books coming out next year, both exploring the Holy Spirit:  A Boundless God: the Spirit according to the Old Testament and An Unconventional God: the Holy Spirit according to Jesus. (Baker Academic will publish both books in 2020.) Those are on top of his latest book, just published in September, The Holy Spirit before Christianity (Baylor University Press) and follow two other books related to the Holy Spirit: Fresh Air: the Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life (Paraclete Press, 2012), which has become popular among lay readers, and Forty Days with the Holy Spirit (Paraclete Press, 2015).

So why is Jack Levison so fascinated with the Holy Spirit?

“In most mainlines churches, we don’t know what to do with the Holy Spirit,” he said. (He described how that awkwardness becomes apparent during Pentecost, in a post in the Huffington Post titled “Pentecost for the Rest of Us.”)

Another ongoing project is Levison’s research on The Life of Adam and Eve, an ancient Jewish retelling of Genesis 1-5. In this noncanonical text, Eve is depicted as separate from Adam at the moment when the Temptation occurs, and the serpent is coached by Satan on what to say to Eve. That’s different from the Genesis account, where Adam and Eve are together during the Temptation and Satan is never mentioned. Levison points out how our popular depictions of the Temptation are often influenced more by the version in The Life of Adam and Eve than the Bible.

“This text may be as influential as the Bible, if not more so, in terms of how western Christendom understands the Genesis temptation story,” Levison said. He is working on a book, the first scholarly commentary in English on the text, for the Commentary on Early Jewish Literature Series, published by Walter De Gruyter, a highly regarded academic publishing house in Germany.

Teaching Specialties

Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit); Jewish interpretations of the Hebrew Bible; pain and suffering; prophecy; Hebrew

Research Interests

Pneumatology; interpretation of the Adam and Eve tradition; Second Temple Judaism; gender, Judaism and Christianity

Favorite Bible Verse

Acts 8:30, “So Philip ran up to [the chariot] and heard [the Ethiopian eunuch] reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’”

“This version describes what every Christian should be about,” Levison said. “Look at the verbs – ran, heard, asked. We should be people who run up to people unlike us. Notice as well that Philip didn’t talk, he listened – he heard what the Ethiopian eunuch had to say before saying a word himself. Christians should be good listeners. Then, he asks a simple question. All Christians should be able to ask a simple question so as to understand the other person’s view.”

Book on His Nightstand

The Fault in Our Stars, a young adult novel about cancer, which relates to another area of Levison’s research. Currently, he is co-editing a book based on the 2018 Spirituality for Life Conference. This ecumenical conference, sponsored by the Vatican, Houston Methodist Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center, brought together palliative care and spiritual leaders to explore ways to integrate spirituality into palliative clinical practice. Robert L. Fine, M.D., Clinical Director, Office of Clinical Ethics and Palliative Care at Baylor Scott and White Health in Dallas, is Levison’s co-editor.

Fantasy Dinner Party

He’d invite C.S. Lewis, Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero, Pope Francis, Gerald Hawthorne (his college Greek professor), Gerhard von Rad (a theologian and Old Testament scholar who stood up to the Nazis in Germany during WWII), Priscilla (from the New Testament, and maybe her husband, Aquila, too!) and modern-day Priscilla, Jack’s own wife. “The topic of conversation would be how to resist the status quo, and how to do that effectively,” Levison said.


Jack and Priscilla have two grown children, a daughter, Chloe, and a son, Jeremy, both SMU graduates.


Levison enjoys biking, walking and hanging with Priscilla. “If I didn’t do it for my job, writing would be my hobby,” he said. “Writing is where my soul pours out.”

Something You Don’t Know About Him

Levison played baseball in high school. “I was the catcher,” he said. “My Pony League team won the New York State Championship when I was 14.”

Signature Dish

Onion Muffin Shortbread, a recipe handed down to me from my mother from the hills of rural western Pennsylvania.

Personal Spiritual Practice

Levison uses an app developed by the Jesuits, called Pray As You Go, for his Lectio Divina (daily Scripture reading), then prays for friends and family. “Then I try to listen in prayer and just be receptive,” he said.

December 2019 News Perspective Online

Student Profile: Nerissa Grigsby

Perkins is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, but it has proven a good home for Nerissa Grigsby, a fourth-generation Baptist preacher.

“My grandparents were both pastors at Love Hope Baptist in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, and my father is the pastor of my home church, Central Baptist Church in Pittsburgh,” she said. In addition, her uncle is pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist, the largest megachurch in Philadelphia.

One of seven children, Grigsby grew up in the church and began singing, ushering and participating in liturgical dance at a young age. Around age 13, she began feeling the call to ministry.

“I ran from my call for the longest time,” she said. “I wanted to have fun. I loved the church but was very rebellious.” Ultimately, she says, she couldn’t escape the calling on her life. At age 17, while a freshman in college, Grigsby was ordained as a licensed pastor and began serving at her father’s church.

So how did a Baptist end up at Perkins?

After earning her B.A. in Public Relations and Business Management at California University of Pennsylvania, Grigsby enrolled at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. However, the school didn’t offer online or night classes, making it impossible to manage on top of her full-time job as an IT project manager. Instead, she earned an M.A. in Organizational Leadership and International Business from Point Park University in Pittsburgh while working full time.

“I didn’t put God on back burner, but I did postpone my seminary education,” she said. “When my job brought me to Dallas at the end of 2015, something within me kept saying, ‘You need to go back to school.’ It was as if God was asking, ‘When are you going to finish what you said you would do for me?’”

She attended Dallas Theological Seminary for a year and a half. While she enjoyed her classes, especially in Old Testament, she didn’t like the school’s conservative leanings. Some professors weren’t supportive of women preachers; a few wouldn’t allow women to even enroll in their preaching classes. On the advice of her advisor, she looked into Perkins and sat in on a class taught by Dr. Abraham Smith.

“His class sold me,” she said. “His enthusiasm, the way he taught the word, was completely different than what I’d experienced before,” she said. She enrolled at Perkins in the fall of 2018 and expects to complete her M.Div. in May 2020.

Grigsby plans to serve as a bivocational pastor; she’s currently working full time as an IT project manager while attending Perkins and serving at her local home church, Friendship West Baptist in South Dallas. This year, she’s also interning at Hamilton Park UMC with Dr. Sheron Patterson [insert degrees and years], assisting with young adult ministry, funerals, baby dedications and new member classes.

Grigsby says that the Baptist House of Studies, directed by Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, has enriched her experience as a Baptist student at Perkins. Initiated in 2018, the Baptist House of Studies is a community for Baptist students to learn about their tradition and a network of resources to support them in their path toward ordination or other professional positions in Baptist churches.

“Jaime has been phenomenal in connecting me with different individuals, like the Reverend George Mason at Wilshire Baptist Church, and a variety of networking and learning opportunities,” she said. Through the Baptist House, she learned of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Clergy and Leadership Conference, a gathering of African-American leaders, and plans to attend the conference in February in Crystal City, Virginia.

So how does Nerissa Grigsby stay centered, given such a busy schedule that involves juggling church, career and school commitments?

To “get centered with Christ,” Grigsby starts each morning with daily affirmations and Scripture reading, prayer and music. Sometimes she also journals and walks in nature while in conversation with God.

In addition, the words of the call of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10) inspire her and resonate with her, as someone who’s been part of the church since birth: “Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Serving God and serving others is what I want to do,” Grigsby said. “God is calling me to be that kind of ‘builder of the nations’ of this generation, so that young people can hear the Gospel and receive Christ into their hearts.”