December 2021 News Perspective Online

AAR-SBL Annual Meetings

When the world’s largest gathering of scholars interested in the study of religion gathered November 20-23 in San Antonio, members of the Perkins and SMU communities were well-represented.  The 2021 Annual Meetings, hosted by the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature, featured more than 1,000 academic sessions, workshops, meetings, receptions, tours and other events.  Most events were held in person, along with a limited number of virtual sessions. Perkins and SMU faculty, staff and students spoke, presided or served as panelists at more than a dozen events during the gathering. They included:

Friday, November 19, 2021

Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit
Theme: Legacy, Leverage, and Political Leadership:
Black Women’s Activism and Building Collective Futures
Karen Baker-Fletcher, Southern Methodist University
Four Black Women Activists and the Power of Resilience: Coretta Scott King, Ruby Sales, Patrice Khan Cullors, and Angela Davis

Religion and Popular Culture Unit
Theme: The Gospel According to Bono: A Critical Conversation Around Neoliberal Religion
Jill DeTemple, Southern Methodist University, Panelist

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Christian Systematic Theology Unit and Baylor University Press
Theme: Book Panel Discussing N.T. Wright’s History and Eschatology:
Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology
Natalia Marandiuc, Southern Methodist University, Presiding

Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies
Theme: Buddhist-Christian Reflections on Nationalism
Ruben L.F. Habito, Southern Methodist University, Presiding

Evangelical Studies Unit and Religion and the Social Sciences Unit
Theme: Evangelicism, Science, and Inequality
Lane Davis, Southern Methodist University
Institutionalizing a Pandemic: Texas Methodists’ Progressive Response to the 1918 Flu

Public Understanding of Religion Committee and Religion and Public Schools: International Perspectives Unit
Theme: Teaching about Religion in Texas Public Schools:
Historical and Legal Perspectives and a Case Study
Mark A. Chancey, Southern Methodist University
Bible Literacy Bills and the 2006 Texas Bible Course Law

Women and Religion Unit and Women’s Caucus
Theme: Re-engaging Praxis: A Call for Action
Haley Feuerbacher, Southern Methodist University
The Economics of Purity and Marriage: Towards a Communal and Postcolonial Christian Ethics of Sex Positivity Inspired by and Indigenous Women’s Land Rights Movement

Synoptic Gospels
Theme: Traditional Approaches, Fresh Questions
Abraham Smith, Southern Methodist University, Presiding

Women in the Biblical World / Feminist Hermeneutics of the Bible
Theme: Fostering Intersectionality and Dialogic Practices in the Classroom:
Pedagogical Approaches in Womanist/Feminist/Queer Biblical Studies
Susanne Scholz, Southern Methodist University, Presiding

Anthropology of Religion Unit
Theme: Pandemic Religiosity: What Ethnography Reveals About Adaptation, Experimentation, and Failure
Marie Purcell, Southern Methodist University
Uncertain Certainties about Worship: First Baptist Dallas Copes with the Pandemic

Postcolonial and Biblical Studies
“Advancing to the Ends of the Earth”: Lamenting Domination in 1 Maccabees (Kelley Coblentz Bautch) and Colonial Babel (Jeremiah Cataldo)
Susanne Scholz, Southern Methodist University, Respondent

Sunday, November 21

Graduate Student Committee

Theme: Confronting Poverty and Inequality as Scholars (and Students) of Religion
Lane Davis, Southern Methodist University
The Poor Are Always with Us: The Apathy of Religion in Modern American Progressivism

Manchester Wesley Research Centre and Pentecostal Theological Seminary
Theme: Social Engagement in the Holiness and Pentecostal Traditions
Priscilla Pope-Levison, Southern Methodist University
Fallen Women, Fallen Society: The Social Engagement of Holiness and Pentecostal Rescue Homes

Homiletics and Biblical Studies
Theme: Review of O. Wes Allen’s The Preacher’s Bible Handbook
Abraham Smith, Southern Methodist University, Panelist
Wesley Allen, Southern Methodist University, Respondent

Bible in America
Kelsey Spinnato, Southern Methodist University
Excised and Flattened: The Matriarchs in US Children’s Bibles

Monday, November 22

African Religions Unit, Bioethics Unit, Religion in Southeast Asia Unit, and Religions, Medicine, and Healing Unit
Theme: Faith in a Time of COVID-19: Religion & Public Health Measures
Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Southern Methodist University
Trauma Texas-Style: International Students Facing Both a Pandemic and Natural Disaster

Christian Systematic Theology Unit
Theme: Healing, Hospitality, Transformation, and Flourishing
Business Meeting: Natalia Marandiuc, Southern Methodist University, Presiding

African-American Biblical Hermeneutics
Theme: Have Not Our Weary Feet: Honoring the Work of Randall C. Bailey
Abraham Smith, Southern Methodist University, Panelist

Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society
Theme: Latinx/Asian Religious Confluences
Business Meeting: Ángel Gallardo, Southern Methodist University, Presiding

Teaching Religion Unit
Theme: Teaching Tactics
Jill DeTemple, Southern Methodist University
Five Things: Creating Connection and Engagement While Discouraging Polarization in a Graduate Seminar

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Homiletics and Biblical Studies
Theme: Preaching Against the Grain
Wesley Allen, Southern Methodist University, Presiding

December 2021 News Perspective Online

Digital Ministries

Congregations are slowly returning to in-person worship, but digital ministry is here to stay. And Perkins is taking steps to ensure students are prepared.

A new course in Digitally Mediated Ministry, launched during the pandemic, has become part of Perkins’ academic curriculum. And a new Digitally Mediated Ministries Lab will open in January.

“Digitally mediated ministry is going to be a permanent feature of the Christian landscape,” said Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of the Global Theological Education Program at Perkins. “We hope to make Perkins a center of active learning and research in the best forms of digitally mediated ministry.”

Hunt co-teaches the Digitally Mediated Ministry course with Dr. Marcell Silva Steuernagel, Assistant Professor of Church Music and Director of the Master of Sacred Music degree program. The course was taught in the fall of 2020 and again in the summer of 2021, and will be continue to be offered on an ongoing basis.

Acquiring proficiency in digital media is no longer optional for preachers and pastors, according to Hunt.

“Seminaries would never consider teaching preaching without showing students how to use a microphone,” he said.  “Now, they need to learn to preach while looking into a video camera.”

Through his work with the Global Theological Education program, Hunt recognized the need for the lab.

“We needed a place where our faculty and students could create the highest quality video instruction, do podcast recording and even experiment with virtual reality (VR),” Hunt said. “We needed to center that work and consolidate the equipment we’d begun to accumulate.”

A room in Kirby was set aside for the new Digitally Mediated Ministries Lab. Working with Bart Patton, Hunt set up a podcasting studio and a video recording studio, along with VR tools. A green screen is also under construction. New equipment will be added as new projects unfold. The lab will be primarily available to faculty but will also eventually become a center where students and local church staff can try new forms of digital ministry.

“Ultimately we hope it can become a place where smaller local churches can create digital content and experiment, without investing in a lot of equipment,” he said.

Hunt noted that digital platforms offer unprecedented opportunities to broaden the church’s outreach.  The largest YouTube channel currently attracts 3 million viewers every week for video Bible lessons. Many churches discovered new constituencies and recovered old members when they went online during Covid.

Perkins is poised to lead the way in this emerging field – and has an important role to play.

“Our Perkins faculty are thought leaders in worship, preaching and evangelism,” said Hunt.

“The technology changes every year, and the tools use digital platforms are already out there. What Perkins can do is engage our students in the serious theological questions that digital ministry raises; questions about what kind of ministry we’re doing and in the future, and how to do them not only effectively, but ethically.”

December 2021 News Perspective Online

Student Spotlight: Bryce Blank

There was a time when Bryce Blank would’ve been a typical Perkins student – a young person who entered seminary immediately after college, with plans to become a United Methodist pastor.

The student body has changed over the years, with more second career students, but Perkins still feels like a good fit for Blank. He’s a third year M.Div. student and candidate for ordination in the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“The student population is definitely a mixed bag of people, but it was nice to see a good number in the same spot as me, too,” he said. “And the people at Perkins were very welcoming and hospitable when I visited.”

A graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota (“Home to the World’s Only Corn Palace,” Blank notes proudly), he hails from Rapid City, the second most populous city in South Dakota. So how did a young man from South Dakota end up in Dallas, Texas? The answer: personal connections.

“My campus pastor’s campus pastor, the Rev. David Scroggin, lives here,” he said. “That connection led to my job at a church here and that’s how I found out about Perkins.”

Since the fall of 2019, when his studies began at Perkins, Blank has worked as Director of Student Ministries at Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch. Scroggin is the associate pastor there.

Blank ultimately aspires to pastor a church.

“I’m really enjoying youth ministry, and I’d like to do college ministry at some point, but expect I’ll end up in a local church as a pastor at the end of the day,” he said. “I’m going to go where God calls me on that one.”

He’s especially appreciative of Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner’s pastoral care class.

“One of the biggest things that I learned at Perkins is the power of presence in ministry,” he said. “That’s a very simple thing to do for people, but it’s a way of being a symbol of God’s presence in their life.”

In coming to Perkins, and looking forward, Blank says he’s guided by Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (NIV)

“It’s a constant reminder that, at times, I can get completely lost and feel helpless, but I have to find a way to move forward and find positivity,” he said. “In this phase of life, I have to trust that I’m making the best decisions I can, and then move forward.”

Another guiding principle are words he heard every day while growing up:

“Every morning, my dad would say to my brother and me: ‘You’re not fully dressed until you put on your smiles,’” he recalled. “Life is what you make of it. You can choose to have a crappy day or to have a great day. I try to live into that every day and make each day the best it can possibly be.”

Music is also a big part of Blank’s life. Before the pandemic, he regularly attended Perkins’ weekly chapel services and played guitar in the chapel’s contemporary worship band. Music is also a source of spiritual nourishment, whether he’s playing or just listening.

“I feel most connected to God though music,” he said. “It doesn’t always have to be Christian. I’m all over the board – from early 80s pop rock to contemporary Christian artists. It all makes me feel God’s presence.”

A few more things you need to know about Bryce Blank: he has a puppy named Ray and two brothers, one who’s an identical twin. Also, he’s a diehard fan of the San Francisco 49ers.

“In South Dakota, we don’t have our own pro teams, so you just get to pick,” he said. “My dad was a fan and he raised me as a 49ers fan.”




December 2021 News Perspective Online

Faculty Profile: Bruce D. Marshall

Much of Bruce Marshall academic work centers on a thorny theological question that he doesn’t expect to be resolved soon. In fact, he imagines the answer will emerge in the long run – say, within a century or two. As a scholar who’s accustomed to working at a thoughtful and deliberate pace, Marshall is OK with that.

The question: how to reconcile two seemingly contradictory views of Jewish-Catholic relations.

“Since the Second Vatican Council, Catholic teaching has had a strong insistence on the enduring reality of God’s Biblical covenant with the Jewish people,” he said. “But there’s also the universal mission of Christ and the church, that says that the Gospel is for Jew and gentile alike. I’m trying to understand how we might hold these two basic commitments together.”

Toward that end, Marshall has been working for some time in dialogue with other scholars, both Jewish and Christian.

“As a convert to Catholicism, I’m looking at the question from a Catholic point of view, but it’s not a uniquely Catholic question,” he said.

Ultimately, he plans to write a book on the topic; he has already published papers, essays and book chapters. In May, he presented the keynote lecture in a conference sponsored by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at Saint Leo University; that keynote will be published by the Catholic University of America Press as part of a volume from the conference.

“Catholic theology is just beginning to consider the question, but I believe this work will bear fruit in the long term,” he said.

Outside of his academic work at Perkins, Marshall is a member of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic church in Richardson. He also teaches classes for SMU’s Catholic campus ministry. About 25% of SMU students are Catholic; SMU has an active ministry supported by the Dallas Diocese. In the past, Marshall also taught weekly adult education classes in local Catholic parishes.

“I view that as part of my calling as a theologian: to offer what assistance I can to the church and its living reality,” he said.

Those who know Marshall as a scholar are often taken aback to learn that his home is filled with a lively menagerie of animals – four cats and two dogs, at the moment. Credit goes to his daughter Anne, 23, who lives at home.

“Among her many endearing qualities is her great love for orphaned and suffering creatures,” he said. “She adopted the four cats and two dogs.”

Anne adopted one of the cats when she saw a photo of the feline on NextDoor; she left work immediately to take in the then-feral and sickly kitten.  One of the dogs was adopted after Anne discovered an abandoned puppy at a Walmart. Now, that puppy has grown into a 50-lb. pit bull.

“He’s the sweetest dog, and completely cowed by the other dog, a tiny rat terrier,” Marshall said.

Teaching Specialties

Medieval and Reformation theology, systematic theology

Research Interests

Doctrine of the Trinity, Christology, philosophical issues in theology, sacramental theology, Judaism and Christian theology

Books on His Nightstand:

Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy of historical novels set in medieval Norway and written by Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset; and August 1914, a Russian novel by Nobel Prize-winning writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about the defeat of the Imperial Russian Army at the Battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia.

Favorite Bible Verse

Guiding his work is a favorite Bible verse, Galatians 2:20: It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NRSV) “For me, that is St. Paul’s statement of what I hope to live up to,” he said. A Lutheran before he converted, Marshall says he’s also inspired by Catholic hymns, including some that are quite ancient. “The sacraments are very important to me,” he said. “The things that meant the most to me as a Lutheran are what drew me to Catholicism.”

Fantasy Dinner Party

 Being a “theology nerd,” Marshall says he’d invite long-dead theologians like Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus, in hopes that they might answers some questions he’s pondered over the years. “I’ve spent a lot of time in their work, and I’m not sure I understood everything they wrote,” he said. “They’d probably argue, but I’d sit them down and say, ‘Here’s the passage. Please explain.’”


Marshall has been married to his wife Sandra for 38 years; she’s a church musician who’s currently composing a setting for a mass. Daughter Anne, 23, a student at the University of North Texas, was born in Korea and adopted.

Spiritual practice

 Daily prayer is important to Marshall; he prays the rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours regularly. He also prays through the Psalms every month, a habit he has followed for many years.

Question he’d ask at the Pearly Gates.

“It’s hard to put into words, but I expect to see Jesus in the flesh,” he said. “I think I’d say, ‘Show me how I could’ve served you better, how I could’ve loved you more.’ And I expect He will answer, not to our sorrow, but to our upbuilding.”

December 2021 News Perspective Online

Faculty Updates

Strongman Competition 

After months of training steadily, Hal Recinos, professor of Church and Society, entered the SMU Strongman Competition for the third time and placed second.

He was one of 12 men and women, including faculty and students, who tested the limits of their physical strength while competing at the 11th annual SMU Strongman competition in the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports on Nov. 16. Each competitor demonstrated their overall body strength through deadlifts, bench presses, and pull-ups. Judges evaluated participants based on the ratio of weight lifted relative to each competitor’s body weight.

The first time he competed, in 2018, Recinos finished 10th; the second time in 2019 he finished 6th; and this year, he competed again and finished in second place.

December 2021 News Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Updates

Hurricane Ida Relief

The Rev. JoAnne Pounds (M.Div. ’14) was recently featured in a video produced by the Louisiana conference highlighting her work as she ministers to those in need in south Louisiana following Hurricane Ida. While the storm may no longer be in the headlines, humanitarian needs remain. Pounds serves as pastor at Algiers United Methodist Church and Belle Chasse United Methodist Church.

Inaugural Innovator

Jonathan Allen (M.Div. ’16) has been named Inaugural Innovator in Residence at Innovate@BU, an incubator at Boston University that helps students “dream up ideas ranging from a fashion company to antiracism training to an app that helps patients in low-resourced countries find doctors,” according to a Boston University press release. Allen first learned about the Innovate@BU team when visiting for advice for the Leadership Brainery, a national nonprofit he founded in 2013 with his husband, Derek Young, Jr. The organization helps underrepresented students gain access to graduate and doctoral level education and careers. Read the BU Today story here.

Congregation Profiled

The congregation led by Pastor Bryant Phelps (D.Min. ’17) was recently featured in a column by Sharon Grigsby in The Dallas Morning News. The Church of the Disciple in DeSoto, Texas, reunited recently with its first in-person service in 20 months.

“Members of Church of the Disciple in DeSoto never lost sight of God in those terrifying weeks of March 2020, when a mysterious deadly pandemic locked them out of their sanctuary,” Grigsby wrote. “When George Floyd’s murder a few months later swept a racial reckoning across North Texas and the nation, this United Methodist Church congregation held tight to the Lord. They even kept faith as the very walls of their church fell in and its floors buckled in February’s unprecedented ice storm. These sturdy-in-their-faith women and men — like congregants of other beliefs and religions — proved over these last trying 20 months that they didn’t need the church to be the church. But what solace for the soul it was to finally unite last Sunday in their newly restored spiritual locker room. Faith is fed by community; virtual connections can only do so much.”

Grigsby had written earlier in the pandemic about the church and about how Phelps, then the newly appointed senior pastor, was shepherding this neighborhood church — a large percentage of its members high-risk senior citizens — in one of the Dallas County ZIP codes hit hardest by COVID-19. “But until a member invited me to be a part of the church’s long-awaited and too-often-delayed homecoming, I had no idea everything these folks have endured since we last spoke,” she wrote.

Dallas Morning News subscribers may read the column here.

Lisa Hancock Co-writes Sermon Guide

Lisa Hancock (M.S.M. ’13; M.T.S. ’15; Ph.D. ’21) helped write a sermon guide in partnership with the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund.  The Journey Toward Mental Wellness resource and toolkit aims to help faith leaders begin meaningful conversations on the importance of mental wellness and offers resources on connecting others to behavioral health services, as well as sermons on mental health and exercises to start thoughtful discussion with your congregation. Find the sermon guide here.

Bill Matthews Receives Award

The Rev. Bill Matthews (M.Th. ’63) and his wife, Norma Matthews, were recipients of the Eleanor Roosevelt Lifetime Achievement Award as part of 2021 UN Day Global Leadership Awards program. The awards were presented on October 23 as part of UN Day for the Dallas Chapter of UNA USA. The UN Day Awards honor individuals and organizations from multiple industries who are advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda. This year’s recipients, through their organizations and body of work, have helped advance gender equality, immigration reform, humanitarianism, democracy, and more.

Read the press release about the awards here.

Obit: The Rev. David Blackman

The Rev. David Blackman (M. Th., 1979) passed away Monday, November 8, 2021, at the age of 80. He served churches throughout the North Texas Conference while active as well as retired. Most recently, he was serving on the staff at Axe Memorial UMC in Garland. The memorial service was held Nov. 17 at Axe Memorial United Methodist Church in Garland, preceded by his military burial at the National Cemetery earlier that day. Cards and notes may be sent to his wife: Kathy Blackmon, 4250 Old Omen Road, #102, Tyler, TX 75707.

Obit: Father Joseph Doyle

A funeral Mass for Josephite Father Joseph Doyle (D. Min., 1985) was offered Nov. 5 at Corpus Christi/Epiphany Catholic Church in New Orleans. Father Doyle, a Baltimore native, died Nov. 2 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82. Father Doyle was the second president of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans from 1992 to 2010 and later worked extensively with young men in formation to become Josephite priests and brothers. He was the author of “When Jesus was Twelve,” a work of historical fiction about the Holy Family. Read his obituary in the Catholic Review here.

Obit: Gordon Roe

Gordon Roe (M. Th., 1960) died at age 86 in San Antonio. He met his wife, Patsy, while at Perkins. In the first years of his career, Gordon served Methodist churches in Central and South Texas towns, including Manchaca, Hunt, Burnet, and Sinton. He decided to leave the ministry in 1972 and found a new calling as a special education teacher.  A celebration of Gordon’s life will be held December 27 at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church in Carrollton, Texas. Memorial contributions can be made to Southwestern University in Georgetown or Greater Lewisville Community Theater (send checks to GLTC, Box 293231, Lewisville, TX 75029-3231 or email for credit card donations). Read his obit here.

Obit: The Rev. Dr. Bobby W. Parrott

The Rev. Dr. Bobby W. Parrott (M.Th., 1958; D.Min., 1977) died October 8, 2021, at the age of 89. Parrott served as pastor at many churches in the Texas Annual Conference, as District Superintendent of the Southwest District in Houston and as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences of the United Methodist Church. As custodian of Albert C. Outler’s books, papers, and memorabilia, Parrott wrote the authorized biography, Albert C. Outler the Gifted Dilettante, and served as General Editor of nine volumes of Outler’s edited lectures, all published by Bristol House Ltd. The Bob W. Parrott Papers (sermons, letters, papers, and memorabilia), housed in the archives of Bridwell Library, are to be used for research studies by students and scholars. Memorial services took place at First United Methodist Church of Longview on October 23. Parrott is survived by his wife of 70 years, Doris Ann Parrott. Read his obituary here.

Obit: The Rev. Kenneth Truelove

The Rev. Kenneth E. Truelove (M. Th. ’64) died Oct. 27 at age 87.  Truelove had a lifelong commitment to ministry, first studying at the Perkins School of Theology in Dallas and then completing seminary at the Philadelphia Divinity School. Once ordained in the Episcopal Church, his career in the church took him to parishes from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., then to towns in central Illinois and Indiana, with an adventure serving congregations in the Livingston, Mont., area. Truelove dedicated himself to expanding the welcome of the Episcopal Church and the reach of faith to all, finding greatest satisfaction in strongly supporting those who had been historically marginalized in the church.  A memorial service will be held at a future date. Condolence cards may be sent to the Truelove family at 611 S. Wells St., Apt. 2003, Chicago, IL 60607. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps and the University of Chicago Medicine Sarswat Amyloid Research as listed under Kenneth Truelove at Read his obituary here.