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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.

February 2021 News Perspective Online Top Story

A Message from the Dean: Religion & Government – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

One of several images from the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th that I’ll never forget is that of a person entering the breached door holding aloft a Bible for the cameras. One did not have to look hard to find evidence that numerous other participants saw their actions that day as divinely sanctioned. Who could miss, for example, the “Jesus Saves,” “In God We Trust,” and “God and Guns” signs, not to mention the large wooden cross carried in the crowd? Parallel to and part of this phenomenon is the fact that a surprising number of Christians have warmly embraced the bizarre and ugly QAnon conspiracy theory.

The great irony of the online information explosion is the fact that it encourages us, not to broaden ourselves, but to isolate ourselves, shutting out anything or anyone that challenges our perspective and so makes us uncomfortable. This tectonic shift was abetted proactively in 1987 when the FCC eliminated the “Fairness Doctrine” that had required broadcasters to offer a range of viewpoints on controversial topics. Taken together, these phenomena have created the conditions in which white supremacy, among other cancers on the American body politic, metastasizes freely.

Religion is a lot like government. There is good government, and there is bad government. The things that promote good religion are much the same as those that promote good government: respect for differing opinions, the ability to listen, honesty, empathy, the search for and acknowledgement of common ground, the ability to hold in tension competing ideals, a sense of duty and a commitment to service, widespread engagement, and concern for the larger whole. Governments that do not model these attributes have been the source of profound human misery. The same can be said for religion. Churches and other religious groups that are self-certain, incapable of correction, unwilling to engage others, and concerned only with themselves have the same potential for inflicting damage as bad governments. Indeed, all too often bad government finds its closest ally in bad religion.

High-quality theological education is an antidote to distorted and dangerous religion. A school like Perkins brings students into contact with others who, like them, profess Christ, but who bring to their shared conversation a world of experience and a range of perspectives they might never have encountered before. Questions are asked in class that force students to think through difficulties they might well have preferred to avoid addressing. Seminarians are therefore not so much taught what to think as how to think, how to ask critical questions, how to weigh evidence, how to determine what is core and what is periphery, and how to separate theological wheat from ideological chaff.

It goes without saying that we are a highly polarized nation, and many of our denominations are following suit. In such a situation, it is all the more essential that there be places where passions can be steered by reason. The easy, comforting caricatures of others emanating from across the spectrum must be challenged at the very place where the next generation of church leaders is formed. I would caution students not to attend a seminary in which they know before they set foot in the doorway what they are expected to think when they graduate.  God and the world just aren’t that simple.

Whatever your political and religious persuasion, I hope you will agree that we can do better. Surely, the times in which we live amply demonstrate that none of us is faultless, that all of us act out of some measure of self-interest and self-protection, and that all of us possess a limited perspective. We can be part of a glorious whole, but we are not whole in ourselves.

When I was interviewing to be dean, I was asked about the importance of diversity. Among other things, I said, “It is possible to be diverse without being great, but it is not possible to be great without being diverse.”  The world needs both good government and good religion, and we are the ones who decide whether the good or the bad prevails.

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management: February Update

Meet Our Current Perkins Student Ambassadors

By Margot Perez-Greene

The Perkins Graduate Student Ambassador Program was established so that current students could serve in the recruitment process by working closely with the Ministry Discernment Associates (MDA) in the Office of Enrollment Management (OEM). Under the guidance of the MDA’s, the participating Ambassadors connect with prospects through various on and off campus events administered by the Office of Enrollment Management. Ambassadors provide personal insights into the application process, the Perkins community, seminary life, campus navigation, access to outside scholarships and so much more.

Here are two of the four students currently serving as Ambassadors. We’ll introduce the others in the next issue of Perkins Perspective Online.

Rosedanny Ortiz: In Her Own Words

Ortiz, 30, is originally from Puerto Rico and currently living in Forney, Texas. She serves as lead pastor at Casa Linda Church, a United Methodist congregation in Dallas.

Why did you choose Perkins?

Since the day I accepted my call to ministry, I wanted to be prepared. What better way than to go back to school?  I was already looking at SMU for a master’s in engineering, so I changed my route to a Master of Divinity program. As soon as I attended an Inside Perkins event, I immediately felt at home. What I learned from the Perkins community, its students, professors and staff, represents a very blessed opportunity in my life.

Can you tell us about your call?

I was around 5 to 6 years old, attending Vacation Bible School at Charles W. Drees Methodist Church in Guayama, Puerto Rico, where I saw the pastor in the pulpit and thought, “I want to do that too, to talk to others about God.” It was there where I felt called to ministry, but I didn’t understand what it meant at that time.

When I came to Dallas with my husband, I began to serve Casa Linda Church, and after some discernment, I came to understand that I needed to start what God called me to do, ministry. I’m excited that I get to do this daily in the church where I finally accepted my call to ministry, Casa Linda! I’m blessed to lead this church with enthusiasm and passion for where God is calling us to be.

What are you goals upon completing your time with Perkins?

One of my goals is to begin the commissioning process of an elder in the North Texas Conference. Also, to find new ways to connect with the community, partner with other UMC churches to enrich ministry, and work on our congregation’s unity and diversity.

Tripp Gulledge: In His Own Words

Tripp Gulledge is from Mobile, Ala., and is a first-year Master of Divinity student.

Why did you choose Perkins?

I chose Perkins because I believe everyone here is shaped by a serious sense of calling. I originally did some online research about Perkins because I’m a lifelong United Methodist, so the official UMC schools seemed a good place to start looking for graduate theological education. After doing thorough research about degree programs, the faculty, and the balanced curriculum of the M.Div., I felt that Perkins was the best place to receive comprehensive theological education and formation. Also, at Perkins, everyone is sincere about whatever work they do, be it teaching, preaching, or advocacy, and I’m grateful for that.

What are you goals upon completing your time with Perkins?

After graduation, I will seek ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church. One day, I hope to write books and youth and children’s Christian education curriculum. If the Lord leads in such a way, I would love to pursue further theological education and possibly teach at the post-secondary level.


OEM will continue to share these personal stories and biographical information in the next few issues of Perkins Perspective Online. In the meantime, our Ambassadors are busy at work scheduling their participation with Samantha Stewart for future virtual events. To date, our Ambassadors have been a welcome addition to all on and off campus events. All in the OEM department look forward to continued dialogue as we consistently move toward improvement of recruitment activities.



February 2021 News Perspective Online

Office of Development: Let’s Talk About Financial Aid

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was in graduate school, I was able to work part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer and mostly pay for my education.  I must admit, most of my jobs were at or near minimum wage, yet it was still possible to achieve my goal of debt-free education.

Those days are long gone.  Minimum wage has not kept up with inflation nor with the cost of higher education.  We can all complain about the cost of education, but there are many more costs for institutions of higher education than when I was a student.  For instance, during my years as a president of a liberal arts college, from 1996 to 2014, we increased computer staff from two and a half employees to 23 full-time workers.  In addition, of course, we had the added costs of providing rapidly improving, up-to-date technology for faculty, staff, and students.  That is just one example of higher education’s growing expenses over the last twenty-five years.  I could give many more.

All that in order to say that we must help our current and future students figure out ways to afford their education as they prepare for ministry and other avenues of service in the world. Let me share some recent good news with you:

  • At the end of 2020, a generous donor gave $500,000 to Perkins, to be used for student scholarships. In consultation with Dean Hill, it has been decided that, from this pool, five new Perkins Scholars will be funded each year for the next three years, in addition to the 10 funded by the Perkins Executive Board.  A separate group of students will be eligible for additional scholarship support from that pool of money as well.
  • In January, the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation informed us that it is awarding Perkins $300,000 for the Baptist House of Studies program. The bulk of the money will be used for scholarship aid for four new “Baugh Scholars” each year over the next three years.  This effort, under the direction of Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, has already impacted Baptist students who desire to come to Perkins School of Theology. (Read more here.)
  • A faithful donor recently handed me a check to fund five Perkins Scholars for the class of 2024, who will enter Perkins this August.
  • On February 16, the Bolin Family Virtual Scholarship Event, featuring David Brooks from the New York Times, will add nearly $175,000 to the general scholarship account thanks to faithful sponsors who are giving suggested donations at various levels. It is not too late to get involved in that event.  Visit and join the fun and intellectual stimulation.  The presentation will be memorable.

Those are four large sums of money, and we are extremely thankful.  But we are grateful for all gifts, both big and modest.  Every dollar counts.  I urge all alumni and friends to help make theological education affordable for our current students.  We are educating students who will make a difference in the church and the world from 2021 through 2065, and beyond!  What will the world be like in 2065?  Who knows?  But many students who are being educated right now will still be faithfully ministering to a hurting and changing world.

Join us in this effort.  To give online, click on  To give by check, make it out to SMU and note Perkins Scholarships.  Send to:

John A. Martin
Perkins Development
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133

All my best,

John A. Martin
Perkins Development

February 2021 News Perspective Online

James Lee Receives Distinguished Teaching Professor Award

Jim Lee’s online D. Min. class was interrupted unexpectedly on January 13. The surprise: SMU Provost Elizabeth G. Loboa “Zoom-bombed” the class to present Lee with the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. Pamela Hogan, his neighbor in Selecman Hall and coordinator of doctoral programs at Perkins, then presented him with a medal and plaque.

Dr. James Kang Hoon Lee is associate professor of the History of Early Christianity and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program and has been a member of the Perkins faculty since 2012. The annual Altshuler Award recognizes four SMU faculty members for their notable commitment to and achievements in fostering student learning.

“Dr. Lee’s teaching, in both traditional classrooms and in hybrid environments, has been exceptional,” said Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill in his nomination letter. “He has a history of service within SMU and Perkins, notably in his recent role of overseeing the restructure and execution of the new Doctor of Ministry program. The restructuring was as much pedagogical as curricular, attesting to his skilled capacity for teaching.”

Since 2001, the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award honors faculty for their notable commitment to and achievements in fostering student learning. Recipients receive a $10,000 award and membership in SMU’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. For two years following the award, they participate actively with other members of the Academy in providing campus-wide leadership in teaching and learning.

Recipients are chosen because they are teachers “whose concerns for higher education go beyond classroom boundaries and often the boundaries of their own disciplines,” according to the award guidelines. “In student mentoring, in discussions about teaching, and in continuous reflection about their own successes and ways to improve, they represent the highest achievement in reaching the goals of higher education.”

Lee holds a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, where he received a teaching award from the Kaneb Center. At Perkins, he teaches survey courses that cover 2,000 years of church history, and he teaches elective courses on topics such as Christian Mysticism, Early Christian Spirituality and the Bible, The Church in Early Christianity, and The Theology of St. Augustine. Lee hopes that the study of church history will serve as a resource for students facing practical challenges in the church today. As one student remarked after taking Lee’s courses, “I have seen that most of the issues that I deal with in leading my congregation within my tradition have been issues that have been repeated in ancient history,” and “I am better equipped to handle these issues today.”

Lee has been nominated twice before for teaching awards at SMU, but this is the first time that he has won an award from the Center for Teaching Excellence. The Altshuler Award is the most prestigious teaching award given to tenured faculty at SMU. “I am truly humbled and honored to receive the Altshuler Award,” Lee said. “It is a testament to the wonderful work of the faculty, staff, and leadership in the Perkins School of Theology. Above all, it is a reflection of the incredibly inspiring students that we are fortunate to serve at SMU.”

Other Altshuler recipients for 2020 include Jeffrey Kahn, professor of Law and Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow at SMU; Jill E. Kelly, associate professor of history in the William P. Clements Department of History within Dedman College; and William Maxwell, professor of finance at the Cox School of Business.

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Seals Laity Award

Perkins School of Theology announces the 2021 recipients of the Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award: Kirk Franklin, a Grammy-award winning gospel artist and member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship; Nancy Seay, a philanthropist and elder of Highland Park Presbyterian Church (HPPC); and Lisa Tichenor, an active community leader and lay member of Highland Park United Methodist Church (HPUMC). Along with Mary White, the 2020 Seals Award recipient, the three will be honored during the online worship service for Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning on March 19. Read more here.

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Emergency Aid: Luce Grant Brings Relief

A church was able to distribute food boxes, face masks and free COVID-19 testing to undocumented neighbors hardest hit by the pandemic.

A free medical clinic was able to safely resume in-patient appointments, after installing plexiglass shields and other safety equipment.

An interfaith nonprofit was able to help 88 families with emergency utility and rent assistance.

These urgent needs – and many more — were met thanks to an emergency grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, in partnership with Perkins School of Theology.

Last spring, the Foundation approved the $150,000 grant to Perkins to distribute to help churches and nonprofits in their responses to the pandemic. Hugo Magallanes served as principal investigator, with support from Isabel Docampo, John Martin and Andy Keck. Now, the agencies and ministries are reporting the grant’s impact.

Perkins distributed the funds in two ways: through grants of $15,000 each to the North Texas, Rio Texas, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma Indian Missionary Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church; and with grants of $2,000 to $10,000 for proposals submitted by North Texas area organizations that have partnered in the past with The Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions and with Perkins School of Theology.

Perkins was selected in part due to its network of contacts with annual conferences, local churches and organizations serving the Latinx, vulnerable, at-risk and other communities most affected by the pandemic.

“Because Perkins is located in an urban area, we have an ongoing relationship with these agencies that serve the people who were hardest hit, medically and economically, by the pandemic,” said Magallanes, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “Perkins was an ideal partner to help distribute the funds quickly.”

Break Bread, Break Borders (BBBB) was one of 14 non-profits awarded grant money, receiving $2,500. The social enterprise provides culinary training to refugee women from war-torn countries. Pre-pandemic, BBBB served more than 10,000 people by catering events for companies and organizations; now, it’s struggling to find ways to keep its momentum. With the grant money, the organization experimented with initiatives to sell packaged goods, and provided rent assistance to women in the program. “The Luce Grant kept the communities we serve from evictions, losing power and food insecurity,” BBBB’s report said.  (Watch this video to learn more about BBBB.)

Similarly, The Agape Clinic used its $4,000 grant for facilities upgrades that allowed the free medical clinic to continue serving patients in East Dallas.  The clinic installed a plexiglass barrier (to help reduce the spread of germs) and made repairs to its gate (to better control foot traffic). The measures allowed staff members to resume in-person appointments and to reopen some specialty clinics, including women’s health, dermatology, ophthalmology and student-led evening clinics. “Thanks to these safety measures, Agape has had no on-site cases of COVID transmission,” the agency reported.

Other non-profits receiving grants included the Workers Defense Project Texas Undocumented Worker Fund ($4,000); Mission Waco in Waco, Texas ($4,000); Peaceful Oasis Emergency Shelter of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, serving survivors of domestic violence ($4,000); Bonton Farms ($4,000); Austin Street Shelter ($4,000); the Human Rights Initiative ($4,000); Wesley Rankin Center ($4,000); Faith in Texas -La RED–COVID 19 Recovery Platform ($4,000); Interfaith Family Services ($4,000); Faith Formula Human Services ($2,500); Gateway of Grace ($2,500); and Texas Impact: People of Faith Working for Justice ($2,500).

The grants were not competitive; organizations were invited to submit proposals and then received the money.

“We have developed a level of trust with the organizations that were supported through the grant,” said Docampo who is Director of the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions. “They rose to the occasion, finding creative ways to support people, whether through programs that were already in place or by helping meet local needs at food banks or other distribution networks. As a result, the grant helped strengthen Perkins’ relationships with the conferences and organizations, and we in turn helped the Luce Foundation expand the impact of the grant money.”

This grant was approved through a recommendation from the Foundation’s Theology Program and designated “to uplift the voices and experiences of vulnerable communities, to directly support community partners and community members in need, and to contribute to new and ongoing efforts to deliver an equitable and just emergency response for all.”  Additional funds rolled over from a previous grant to Perkins from The Luce Foundation also supported the effort.

In addition to the non-profits listed above, a total of $105,000 was distributed to Annual Conferences.  The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Annual Conference received $15,000 for food distribution and gift cards for area grocery stores; school aid and clothing assistance for low-income Native American children; and supplies to assist homeless Native Americans. The conference serves 81 churches and 45 tribal nations in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Indian country very hard,” said the Rev. David Wilson in a video report on the grant. “Native American communities have perhaps the highest incidence of COVID. According to the CDC, Native Americans with the virus are six times as likely to be hospitalized, due to lack of access to healthcare, underlying health conditions and other factors.”

Other grants to annual conferences supported the following efforts:

The Texas Annual Conference to support its COVID-19 Help plan assisting families in United Methodist churches, including many undocumented immigrants who were not receiving help from other sources. Pastors provided gift cards of $200 – $500 to help families in need purchase groceries and other needed items.

The Rio Texas Annual Conference to support its Iniciativa de Impacto Communitario, which provides a laundry ministry (for undocumented families without home laundry facilities); a computer lab for students without internet connections; utility support, a bicycle repair workshop and food distribution.

The Louisiana Annual Conference to support Luke’s House in New Orleans ($7,500) and the Center of Hope for Tangipahoa in Hammond, La. ($7,500).  Luke’s House provides free medical care, health education, and patient navigation to those in need; the grant allowed the clinic to navigate patients to clinics and testing sites, provided food to hungry community members, and provided free medical visits. At Center of Hope for Tangipahoa, grant money provided groceries for the food pantry; hand sanitizer, masks and gloves for volunteers; and housing and medical assistance.

The Arkansas Annual Conference to support its 200,000 More Reasons program, which disbursed funding to 20 United Methodist feeding ministries to purchase food and PPE supplies for distribution. Those receiving the money included ministries that serve rural or predominantly Hispanic or African American communities.

The Missouri Annual Conference to assist Della Lamb Community Services, which provides early education, refugee services, social services, and youth services to low-income and immigrant families in Kansas City. The grant supported Della Lamb’s COVID-19 response including a mobile food pantry, distance-learning ESL classes, mobile COVID-19 test clinic, and weekly learning lessons for early education program participants.

The North Texas Annual Conference to assist Christ’s Foundry United Methodist Mission ($7,500) and Project Unity ($7,500). Christ’s Foundry serves a predominantly immigrant population in North Dallas and assisted with COVID-19 testing, face mask and hygiene supply distribution, groceries for 150 families, and free Spanish-language counseling and care to families struggling due to COVID-19.   Project Unity’s Together We Test program provided free COVID-19 testing to persons in underserved communities of color.

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Baptist House of Studies

Two new developments promise an even richer experience for Baptist students attending Perkins School of Theology in the coming years.

First, the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation recently approved a grant of $300,000 for the Baptist House of Studies at Perkins School of Theology.  On January 25, the Faculty Senate at Perkins approved a new Baptist Concentration for M.Div. students wishing to focus in this area.

“The grant will be used primarily for student scholarships and will allow us to attract talented Baptist students who are both committed to their own tradition and know the importance of learning from and partnering with those of other traditions,” said the Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, Director of the Baptist House of Studies. “These are the Christian leaders who will have the most effective impact in this world, God’s world, marked by diversity and rapid change. These are the leaders who will reflexively collaborate, innovate, and simultaneously pass on the beauty and richness of the Baptist tradition.”

Funds from the grant will also help support student travel to Baptist-related conferences and retreats as well as student internships in Baptist-related contexts. These networking opportunities are critical for Baptist students; Baptist congregations are autonomous, and thus Baptist pastors must seek employment individually.  Connecting Baptist students to educational opportunities will assist them in fulfilling their calls and launching their careers.

Established in 1994, the Baugh Foundation supports moderate or progressive Baptist organizations and institutions, faith-based and nonprofit organizations that share the Foundation’s values of compassion, inclusivity, Bible freedom, church-state separation, church autonomy, and the priesthood of every believer.

Second, the Baptist Concentration, approved by the Perkins Faculty Senate on January 25, will require 15 credit hours of coursework, including two required courses in “Baptist History and Polity” and “Baptist and Free Church Theology” and an internship in an appropriate Baptist setting.

“This is one more option we can offer as we recruit, educate, and mentor students spiritually and professionally to become equipped to enter meaningful and effective ministry in various Baptist contexts,” said Clark-Soles. “The fact that we are located in an urban environment here in the Metroplex ensures that no matter what their call, students will find an opportunity to apprentice in that particular area of ministry.”

Clark-Soles, an ordained American Baptist minister, was invited by Perkins Dean Craig Hill in 2018 to launch the Baptist House of Studies, with help from fellow faculty member Isabel Docampo and George Mason, senior pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. The Baptist House of Studies provides spiritual formation, mentoring and preparation for ordination for students as well as special programming open to all Perkins students, SMU, the Metroplex community and beyond. It also serves as 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 contexts.

The Baptist House proudly partners with other Baptist entities such as the Baugh Foundation that share historic Baptist values and convictions. In addition, the Baptist House is committed to helping Perkins carry out its mission, which includes working ecumenically to serve the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“As a United Methodist affiliated institution committed to ecumenism, Perkins has always drawn a diverse body of students,” said Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill. “The grant and the addition of the Baptist Concentration ensure that we can attract top Baptist students and provide them with an excellent seminary education and preparation to serve.”

For more information, visit the Baptist House of Studies web page here.

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Something in the Water

Four hundred years ago, there was something in the water.
It was us.
Kidnapped from the mother continent…
There was something in the water that caused the lynching of black and brown bodies…

Peer into the water.
Do you see it?
Looks like mass incarceration.
Looks like children in cages.
Peer into the water.
Do you see it?
Looks toxic water in Flynt.
Looks like nine black bodies bombarded by bullets in a Bible study.
There’s something in the water.


These stirring words of lament, written by the Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters, opened a January 12 virtual conversation on racial justice.

Co-sponsored by Perkins School of Theology, the online event featuring Waters and former congressman Beto O’Rourke marked the launch of Waters’ new book, Something in the Water: A 21st Century Odyssey (Chalice Press).  Leah Gunning Francis, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Christian Theological Seminary, moderated.

Waters is a civil rights leader, pastor and an alumnus of Perkins, where he earned a Doctor of Ministry in 2012 and Master of Divinity in 2006. He is founding pastor of Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Dallas, Texas. O’Rourke, who wrote the forward to Waters’ new book, represented Texas’s 16th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.

“As I journeyed over the last year, I was struck by the multiplicity of brutalities and horrors that had been visited upon these shores and that continue to be visited every day,” Waters said. “If we tried to quantify the numbers of lives crushed due to the realities of white supremacy … even mentioning those names, it pales in comparison to the number individuals who’ve actually suffered. Unfortunately, we don’t know many of the names of our ancestors who were enslaved. The women and men sexually assaulted over generations.

“It demands something of us. It demands a righteous and active response. We are called to bring about justice.”

O’Rourke expressed gratitude for Waters’ words, adding that he wanted his children to hear them, and for the call to action in Waters’ “profoundly powerful” book.

“There is this comfort that many of us have taken in this idea that progress is inexorable and inevitable and will happen of its own accord – as if there’s no participation required of us to bring it about,” O’Rourke added. “As Waters points out in his book, people unwittingly twist MLK’s words when they say ‘the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice’ as if we can just sit back and wait for it to happen. No. It requires action of all of us.”

O’Rourke reflected on the events of January 6, when protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., as a sign of the lingering hold of white supremacy.

“When current commentators say, ‘This is not America,’ let’s be honest with one another and admit, that this is America,” he said. “There’s some agency in admitting the truth and our responsibility to change America for the better for everyone. Reading this book, I left with more energy that I started with. ‘Action’ is the word I take from this.”

Waters noted that inequality and oppression were built into the design of Dallas, with redlining and terror campaigns that kept Black citizens poor and separate, in the southern part of the city. In the early 20th century, one out of three men in Dallas was a member of the KKK.

“It is a history not known by many persons within the city,” he said. “In 2018, the Urban Institute said Dallas was the most racially inequitable, most racially segregated city in America. The dividing line is I-30. If you live below I-30, you see the disparity there.”

Waters says that the disparities are evident in the obvious differences between the northern and southern sectors of the city.

“Dallas is a microcosm of America,” he said. “As challenging as you think things are in America, it’s much worse, when you look at the impact of white supremacy.”

O’Rourke noted that the U.S. has suffered more than 20 percent of the deaths in the world during the pandemic, and that a disproportionate portion of the more than 433,000 who’ve died were Black, Native American and Hispanic.

“El Paso is the hardest hit city in the U.S.,” he said. In a city that is 85 percent Mexican American, “We have so many people dying … that we had to call in the National Guard to move dead bodies. I would prioritize those communities hit hardest to get the help they need. It’s literally a life and death issue.”

Still, he added, it’s important not to despair.

“The antidote to despair is action,” O’Rourke said. “We must move, we must act, we must meet this moment.”

Waters closed the event with prayer: “Dear God, teach me to pray with my feet. That I might become a drum major for justice, till the walls come tumbling down.”

In addition to Perkins, co-sponsors of the event included the Interdenominational Theological Center; Dallas Black Clergy; Lone Star Justice Alliance; Faith Commons; DC Corrections; Abundant Life A.M.E.; and The Christian Recorder.

Read more about Waters and his book at

February 2021 News Perspective Online

Spiritual Medicine

As a spiritual psychologist, Jana Rentzel sees many people whose spirits are troubled, buffeted by the usual challenges of life as well as the events of the past year — the pandemic, political turmoil, racial injustices.  Having graduated from the Perkins Certificate in Spiritual Direction program in 2019, Rentzel says, she’s better equipped to help.

“The program allowed me to become much more skilled in understanding and addressing a client’s current orientation in terms of their own spiritual journey and helping them clarify their spiritual goals and apply them to their everyday lives,” she said.

Those interested in working in spiritual direction — the art of accompaniment and guidance of others in their spiritual journey — are invited to apply for the next cohort of the Perkins Certificate in Spiritual Direction program, which begins in April. Registration is now open; deadline for submission is February 28.

“Spiritual directors are trained to listen, pray, and ask questions in a fashion that encourages directees to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives,” said Ruben Habito, director of the program. “They ask the kind of questions that nurture the growth of wisdom, using the tools and values that have been sharpened over two millennia of prayerful observation.”

“I am heartily convinced that spiritual direction is crucial in meeting the needs of individuals who seek to lead a more fulfilling and meaningful life,” Rentzel added.

New Cohort

The non-credit, continuing education program trains graduate students, lay people and clergy, and is offered in a user-friendly, non-traditional format to accommodate their busy lives.  Training courses take place in eight weekend sessions held in April, August and December over a period of three years. (New cohorts begin in April and August only). Participants receive a certificate of completion after all required courses and training have been successfully fulfilled.

Rentzel, a PhD spiritual psychologist in private practice for more than 25 years, enrolled after observing growing public interest in spiritual growth. Often, she said, struggles with other names have a spiritual component.

“The main difference between spiritual direction and psychotherapy is that you are bringing in that higher power,” she said. “With this work, there are three people involved – the client, the spiritual director, and God or the Holy Spirit, who is the true counselor. You’re helping the client cut right down to the root cause, to get past whatever is obscuring them to be free to love, to care, to accept differences, and to really find joy.”

A key tool of spiritual direction is mindfulness meditation, Rentzel added.

“Meditation increases our deeper awareness and our ability to stay centered in our innermost core,” she said. “When we do that, we’re not coming from fear, we’re coming from love. We’re just in a more centered place within ourselves and within our truth. We can stay open, keep our heart open, because we know there is a divine purpose and a divine plan.”

Deep Roots

Rentzel thinks that the kind of spiritual work that spiritual directors nurture could help address many of the issues of incivility, hatred and polarization that have troubled so many of late.

“Spiritual direction is essentially getting at the deep root cause of our issues – whether they’re manifesting as anger, fear, or racial hatred,” she said. “Those are things that are beleaguering our country and our world right now.”

Approaching conflicts from a spiritual context allows people to have more compassion, Rentzel added, and that gives them more freedom from feeling threatened and defensive.

“In our human mindset we rarely have that broader perspective,” she said. “We see life as a duality. We become very defensive and things escalate. That’s so much of what’s happening in the world today. Each side has its own stories. The truth lies somewhere way beneath and beyond.”

The Certificate for Spiritual Direction program was initiated in 2010 under the leadership of Dr. Frederick Schmidt, with a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Initially a two-year program, the curriculum was expanded in 2016 with additional practicum sessions. To date, more than 300 students have earned certifications.

New cohorts begin each year in April and August, with students progressing together over the course of three years of coursework. Students study throughout the year, reading books, writing papers and attending online classes, then gather on campus for eight weekend class sessions during the three years. Students are encouraged to meet regularly with a spiritual director at least six months before beginning the program and to continue to meet at least monthly while in the program. The program is ecumenical and works within a Christian framework

“It’s open to all spiritual seekers,” Habito said. “Anyone who can understand and appreciate what is offered through the Christian perspective is welcome.”

Rentzel believes many people can benefit from the program.

“To anyone desiring to realize their full, God-given potential and to help others do the same, the Perkins training in spiritual direction is a must,” Rentzel said. “Whether they apply their training by practicing as a spiritual director or simply use their comprehensive new skills to enrich the lives of those in their current sphere of influence, this program will add great depth and height of meaning to every endeavor.”