February 2020 News Perspective Online

Staff News

Laura Figura has been on the run this fall, and not just by way of her job as Coordinator of Student Life at Perkins. Figura took up running for the first time ever in the early fall of 2019. Already, she has completed three 5K races.

“I was inspired by my husband, who trained and ran his first marathon last December,” she said. “I watched how running made a huge positive difference in his life. Last summer, he urged me to join the Dallas Running Club, which has a beginners’ level program, and I committed to running three times a week with the group. It’s a very slow pace.”

Figura plans to continue running, and even accepted a new challenge. This spring, she’ll serve as a pace leader for the Dallas Running Club’s next group of beginning runners.

She adds that she was also motivated by something she’d read in a book.

“The book said that if you want to change the world, start with yourself and work outward,” she said. “If you examine your own life, you’ll realize there will always be enough for you to work on each day on a personal level to keep you busy for an entire lifetime!”

February 2020 News Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Update

Alum Featured in Dallas Morning News column

Nicole Melki’s (M.A.M. ’17) Ubuntu Music Project was featured in a recent column in The Dallas Morning News. Three afternoons each week, Melki, a professional musician and daughter of a Lebanese refugee, provides free lessons to underserved Hispanic children at Dallas ISD’s Zaragoza Elementary.

Wrote columnist Sharon Grigsby, “These days, when too many narratives are rooted in fear and push people apart, what’s going on in [Ubuntu] provides a much-needed reality check.”

Read the column by clicking here.

Perkins “Mini-Reunions” 

Perkins alums often find each other at national and regional gatherings. That happened twice in January!  

Several enjoyed a “mini-reunion” at the Young Clergy Leadership Forum 2020 in January. The UMC’s General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) hosts the conference each year in Washington, D.C.    This year, 57 young clergy from 30 annual conferences in the U.S. attended. The forum aims to build relationships among young clergy and connections with the staff of GBCS.   Attendees had the chance to practice advocacy by visiting their senators and their staff members, sharing their concerns over the rise in tensions between the U.S. and Iran. 

Several Perkins graduates also met up for lunch at the “Rooted in Jesus” conference, a national gathering sponsored by The Episcopal Church and focusing on discipleship, leadership, evangelism, formation, preaching, and more. The event took place in Atlanta, January 21 – 24.  Pictured (left to right) are Marybeth Sanders–Wilson, Dabbs Woodfin, Lainie Allen, Rebecca Guldi Tankersley and Leslie Stewart. (Photo courtesy of Marybeth Sanders-Wilson.) 

Alum Reflects on Refugees

A column written by the Rev. Blair Thompson-White (D.Min. ’18, M.Div. ’12) recently appeared in The Dallas Morning News. Thompson-White, who is senior pastor at Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas, responded to the decision by Gov. Greg Abbott to refuse to accept refugees into Texas and reflected on her congregation’s work with the Fajers, a Syrian refugee family. “The Fajers are not a burden on us or our state. They are a blessing,” she writes. “We are a more loving, generous and faithful people because of our relationship with the Fajers.” Read the column by clicking here. 

Church Musician’s Assistant

Hannah Cruse (M.S.M. ’’19) has launched a new project on Patreon called the Church Musician’s Assistant. The Church Musician’s Assistant will be a subscription-based online service providing a print-on-demand library of customizable, congregational hymn arrangements by current composers for all types of instruments and voices.

Cruse says she chose the crowdfunding platform Patreon to “jump-start the service into existence.” Patreon allows people who join her community to receive exclusive benefits, donate to the project and become a part of making this vision a reality. Check out Cruse’s Patreon page to see the benefits available for contributors by clicking here.

New Book by Thomas Slater

Thomas Slater (M.Th. ’78, D.Min. ’81) has published Revelation as Civil Disobedience: Witnesses not Warriors in John’s Apocalypse (Abingdon Press, 2019). The book views Revelation as a form of civil disobedience that focuses on sustaining a faithful witness in spite of the consequences. The book is a more developed form of Slater’s 2003 Jackson Lecture at Perkins, “Context, Christology and Civil Disobedience in John’s Apocalypse.” Slater, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Language and Literature at McAfee School of Theology, is an ordained elder in the Georgia North Region of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Sharon Alexander New Position

The Rev. Canon Sharon A. Alexander (J.D. ’90, M.Div. ’10) is using both of her SMU degrees in her new position as Canon to the Ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee, based in Memphis. She serves as the Bishop’s “chief operating officer,” including overseeing the ordination process, assisting churches with hiring clergy, assisting with the development and implementation of diocesan policies and oversight of the disciplinary process when clergy are accused of violating canon (church) law. Canon Alexander also serves as the Chair of the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons for The Episcopal Church and serves on a task force that coordinates ecumenical matters, including the proposed strengthening of ties between The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church.

Before being ordained as an Episcopal priest, Alexander was a partner in the Dallas office of the law firm Jones Day. The Diocese of West Tennessee is the only diocese in The Episcopal Church in which the Bishop (the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf) and the Canon to the Ordinary are both attorneys.


Friends We Will Miss

Rev. Dr. Russell Renneau Moore

Russell Renneau Moore (D.Min. ’95) passed away on January 4. He is survived by Joan, his wife of 43 years; three daughters: Lainey Morrow (Ron) of Conway, Laura Moore of Maumelle and Kimberly Moore of Tellico Plains, Tenn.; and three grandchildren: Lillie, Sage and Lila.

Born in Little Rock in 1953, Russell traveled the U.S. and overseas first as the son of a Navy admiral and later as he served his country in the Navy. He rose through the ranks in the Navy to Lt. Commander, but after earning his M.Div. at Vanderbilt, he returned to Arkansas to serve as a United Methodist pastor. During his first years as a pastor, he also served the remainder of his 20 years in the Naval Reserves. He ultimately served seven churches in Arkansas during his three decades as a pastor. A service to celebrate Russell’s life took place January 8. Instead of flowers, the family asks for donations to the American Cancer Society or to your local church.

Read his full obituary by clicking here.