February 2022 News Perspective Online Top Story

Letter from the Dean

New Life in the New Year

The adjective καινός, “new,” is, as you would expect, a New Testament theme-word:

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority!”  (Mark 1:27; cf.  Acts 17:19)

New wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:38)

new covenant (Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25)

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35)

…be renewed [ἀνανεοῦσθαι] in the spirit of your minds, and clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  (Eph. 4:23-24)

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  (2 Cor. 5:17; cf. Gal. 6:15)

Behold, I make all things new. (Rev. 21:5) 

These lines were spoken into a world rife with fatalism, depicted most memorably in the Sophocles play Oedipus Rex, but also present in various forms of Greco-Roman philosophy and religion. We’re stuck, in other words, and the most we can hope for is to be content with our lot. As we have seen, that is decidedly not the message of the Gospel!

As we move further into 2022, let us claim for ourselves individually and collectively the new reality made possible by God. It is instructive to see how intentionally Paul connects this new life in the Spirit with quality relationships and community. On the one hand, things that undermine fellowship dominate his catalog of “works of the flesh:” “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, [and] envy” (Gal. 5:20-21). “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (5:22-23a).

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore…let us strip off every weight that slows us down” (Heb. 12:1). To one extent or another, each of us carries burdens and attitudes from the past that slow us–and with us, our community—down. But we are not fated to live in, much less to repeat, the past. Rather, we can, should we choose, be empowered to create new possibility in the present. That is, by the way, a most Wesleyan way of thinking. God desires to work in us now, not simply on some far-off day.

We live in a challenging time, a season that amplifies anxieties and fears, uncertainties and entrenchments. The faithful and productive response is to lay hold energetically of the promise of new life in the Spirit.

Please join me in praying for the Spirit to create new reality and new possibility in 2022, to empower us to set aside whatever holds us back, and to equip us to live ever closer to the standard of the new creation in Christ.

Grace and peace,
Dean Hill

February 2022 News Perspective Online

Video Message from the Dean

What should an excellent seminary teach? Ideally, a student does more than acquire knowledge, according to Craig Hill, Dean of Perkins School of Theology. To become effective in ministry, students must also work on and develop basic skills such as preaching, teaching, listening and being with people in difficult times. Hill talks about the importance of developing skills in this month’s video, the second in a series on the four elements of excellent theological education.

February 2022 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management: February Update

Welcome New Students!

We are pleased to welcome 20 new students to the Perkins Dallas and Houston-Galveston programs this spring. Students represent the following UMC conferences: Texas, Central Texas, Kansas, North Texas, Great Plains, Rio Texas, and Mississippi. Still others have connections to the Christian Methodist Episcopal, Evangelical, Baptist, and non-denomination religious communities.

New Students at Houston-Galveston Spring Orientation

For many, the Perkins culture attracted these students to Perkins. They tell us they were drawn by the diverse representation of theological thought and perspective, hospitable embrace of voices across denominations, openness to different viewpoints and perspectives, opportunity to build relationships beyond one’s own cultural background, and strong message from Dean Craig Hill about servant leadership and his vision for the Perkins community. Forthcoming videos and testimonials by our new students and dean will be helpful in emphasizing our distinctiveness during our second phase of recruitment for fall 2022.

New Students at Dallas Spring Orientation

Please continue to send prospects our way. You may send them directly to Caleb Palmer, Associate Director, Ministry Discernment and Communications,



February 2022 News Perspective Online

11 Students Participate in January Immersion Trip with Mission Waco

Eleven Perkins students traveled to Waco earlier this month for a January Term immersion trip with Mission Waco, a ministry serving those in need. Students stayed in local hotels near Mission Waco and had a chance to hear from Mission Waco founder Dr. Jimmy Dorrell and to observe the ministry in action.

“One of the goals of this class/trip is to prepare students to understand and engage in holistic urban ministry among the poor and marginalized,” said Dr. Hugo Magallanes, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who led the group. “Dr. Jimmy Dorrell and Mission Waco provide hands on experience as well as excellent resources for students to develop and incorporate this approach into their present and future ministries.”

Mission Waco provides “Christian-based, holistic, relationship-based programs that empower the poor and marginalized,” according to its mission statement. The ministry also seeks to mobilize middle-class Christians to become more compassionately connected to the poor and to address systemic issues that contribute to poverty. The ministry’s offerings include a grocery store, a theater, a coffee shop and restaurant, a fair-trade store, buildings for programming for youth and children, a drug rehab house, a clinic, and a homeless shelter – all under the Mission Waco umbrella. Students had the opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of how the mission is organized and run. Dorrell presented several lectures and led activities with the group.

Jennifer Gros, an M.Div. student in the Houston-Galveston program, joined the trip to learn more about how to best serve the homeless. As associate pastor at Faith UMC in Spring, Texas, she often encounters people who are homeless or who need assistance with rent or other needs at the church.

“I was looking to better understand homelessness and poverty and to learn how to work with people in those situations, to help them, not hurt them,” she said. While the first instinct is always to meet the immediate need, such as food or help with rent, Gros said, “Giving handouts is not the answer most of the time. If you’re just giving handouts, that can take away the person’s power to help themselves. That doesn’t address the source of the problem.”

Gros said she particularly appreciated opportunities during the trip to eat meals with homeless clients and to get to know them on a personal level.

She added that she was impressed by Dorrell’s work and his creative approach. For example, those staying in the mission’s homeless shelter are charged one dollar for their first night’s stay.

“Jimmy Dorrell wants them to have a part in their own recovery, to have pride and dignity,” Gros said. “He doesn’t just put on a band-aid. His approach developed from stopping to get to know people, from truly connecting with the people he serves.”

Michaela Calahan, a first-year M.Div. student, initially joined the trip because she needed the credit hours. But she left with a deepened interest in working in ministries outside of the church.

Calahan also noted the importance of tackling long-term issues to truly address homelessness and poverty.

“If someone is chronically homeless, likely there are mental health reasons,” she said. “Fixing the problem involves more longstanding processes than just handing someone cash.”

Calahan appreciated the opportunity to spend time learning from Dorrell. She noted examples of how Dorrell’s intimate knowledge of the community helped him to serve more effectively. He built a basketball court near his home for the youth. He opened a supermarket that offers healthy food in what would otherwise be a food desert.

“He bought a house for $12,000 in a poor neighborhood of Waco,” she said. “He built relationships with the people. He’s being there as the hands and feet of Jesus.”


February 2022 News Perspective Online

Key Fundraising Events

Development Office gears up for Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon and SMU Day of Giving in March

The month of March will be a busy one for Perkins’ Development Office, with two key fundraising events planned: the Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon on March 17 and SMU Giving Day on March 22.

Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon: March 17

The luncheon, which takes place at noon in the Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom at SMU, will feature a keynote from the Rev. Dr. Richie Butler, a video tribute to the Rev. Dr. Zan Holmes, and a presentation on the Black/Africana Church Studies Program (BACS) at Perkins.

“The Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon is a highlight of the Perkins’ calendar every year,” said John Martin, Director of Development for Perkins. “The event raises money for scholarships and helps raise awareness of the important work of Perkins School of Theology.”

Butler is senior pastor of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, an influential, predominantly Black congregation in Dallas. A 1993 graduate of SMU, Butler serves on the Perkins and Dedman College Executive Board, the SMU Board of Trustees, the Communities Foundation of Texas board of trustees, the Dallas Assembly and the Real Estate Executive Council. He is founder of Project Unity, a collaborative effort to promote racial reconciliation in Dallas. He has received numerous awards for his efforts on behalf of racial reconciliation, including SMU’s Emerging Leader Award in 2008; the 2018 Silver Anniversary Mustang Award; the Dallas Bar Association 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award; Dallas Business Journal’s 2018 Minority Business Leader honoree; and the 2019 Juanita Craft Humanitarian Awards Visionary recipient, among others.

Holmes is pastor emeritus of St. Luke, where he served as senior pastor from 1979 to 2002.  Before receiving two graduate degrees from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology — a Master of Theology in 1959 and a Master of Sacred Theology in 1968 — Rev. Holmes graduated cum laude from Huston-Tillotson University in Austin. In addition, he taught and mentored students and ministers for 24 years as an associate professor of preaching at Perkins. As a community activist and leader, Holmes served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1968-1972 while serving as a United Methodist district superintendent. Many United Methodists know Holmes as the narrator and host of the “Disciple I Bible Study” video series produced by Abingdon Press. In 2002 the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Alabama, recognized Holmes as one of the civil rights movement’s “Invisible Giants.” He remains active as a life member of the NAACP.

All proceeds from the Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon will be used for scholarships for the BACS program.

Table sponsorships are available online or by calling John Martin (214.768.2026).  Sponsorships of 10-person tables are available at the following levels: Platinum, $10,000; Gold, $5,000; Silver, $3,000 and Bronze, $1,750. Individual tickets at $175 will be available closer to the event as capacity permits. Check the March 1 issue of Perkins Perspective for updates. Each sponsorship or ticket will be tax deductible, minus benefits received.  (Attendees will receive a statement for tax deductions.)

SMU Giving Day: March 22

Perkins will also participate in SMU Giving Day, which takes place on March 22.

SMU Giving Day is a once-a-year, 24-hour philanthropic blitz that rallies Mustangs everywhere for one big day of fundraising for the entire university. Donors may direct their donations to specific projects or programs within the university. Last year’s Giving Day on April 13, 2021, raised more than $2.5 million for SMU.

SMU Giving Day is a funding lifeline to many initiatives, at Perkins and beyond.  Many of the causes and student groups on campus rely on Giving Day to meet their financial goals. SMU administers gifts to the specific causes that donors select on the Giving Day website.

Perkins has selected four important initiatives which donors may support on March 22:

The Black/Africana Church Studies program at Perkins, with a fundraising goal of $4,000. Launched in Fall 2021, the program critically explores Black theology, Black Biblical studies and interpretation, history, pastoral theology, preaching, worship, religious education, ethics, and other practices in conjunction with African American, African, and other African Diasporic churches, non-profit organizations, and social justice ministries through programs designed primarily in order to enrich the educational, cultural, and communal experiences of Black School of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and GPRS students as well as the broader SMU community.

General Student Financial Aid Fund. Scholarships are the most pressing need at Perkins.  This fund helps students afford theological education at Perkins. The goal is $4,000.

For the Global Theological Education project, there’s a goal of $2,000 to purchase a green screen for GTE’s new Digitally Mediated Ministries Lab, which will provide opportunities for faculty and students to create digital content and to experiment with ministries via digital platforms, including podcasting, livestreaming and more.

Finally, donors will have the option to contribute to a project for the Student Life Office of Perkins; details to come.

For more information on SMU Giving Day, visit (The page will be updated as new information becomes available.)


February 2022 News Perspective Online

Live from Perkins Chapel

Perkins School of Theology is livestreaming five midday chapel worship services during the Spring 2022 semester, allowing more members of the Perkins community to join remotely via the YouTube Channel. The next service in the livestream series takes place on Wednesday, February 2 at 11:30 a.m., marking the beginning of Black History Month. The service will be “A Service of Celebration for Black History Month”, with Dr. Abraham Smith, Professor of New Testament, preaching.

Click here for the February 2 service.

Read the press release here.

February 2022 News Perspective Online

Center for World Methodism

After nearly four decades, Bridwell Library’s Center for Methodist Studies will be renamed the Center for World Methodism, in order to adapt to an ever-changing world and pay homage to the recent gifts of the World Methodist Museum by the World Methodist Council in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

The Center for Methodist Studies at Bridwell Library was established in 1984 to encourage research, study, and reflection upon the Methodist movement, including the sources that influenced its origin, the forces that shaped its development, and the features that determine its character and influence.

Since the Center’s founding nearly four decades ago, the church and world have changed in innumerable ways.  In addition, the 2021 gift and transfer of the World Methodist Museum to Bridwell Library means the role of the existing Center for Methodist Studies has become even more important. As a result, the Center for Methodist Studies housed in Bridwell Library will be renamed the Center for World Methodism (CWM).  Read more on page 4 of the Fall 2021 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly newsletter.

February 2022 News Perspective Online

Matt Jacob is New Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Associate Director

Matt Jacob has joined Perkins School of Theology as Associate Director of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations effective January 3, 2022.

Working with Connie Nelson, Director of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations, Jacob will strategize on the planning and execution of the office’s programs and events, handle media relations and communications, write and manage digital and print publications and materials, including Perkins Perspective, and maintain Perkins’ social media outlets. In addition, his role will involve interacting with external and internal constituencies, including Perkins-SMU faculty, staff and students, denominational and secular media, donors, friends of the School and advisory boards.

Jacob held the same position as Associate Director earlier, from 2015 to 2017. Before returning to Perkins, since August 2017, he has served as Director of Communications for the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. His career also included stints with The Dallas Morning News as an investigative reporter (2012-2014) and a reporter (2000-2006), as an Account Manager for Allison+Partners, a public relations agency (2014-2015), as an Account Supervisor at Golin, an international public relations agency (2011-12) and as Marketing Communications Coordinator for Children’s Medical Center Dallas (2006-2011).

Jacob earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science at SMU and a master’s in journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“As an SMU alum, this position represents a wonderful opportunity to be back on campus,” Jacob said. “My professional roots all started at SMU, so this means coming full circle. Perkins has a rich history as well as a wonderful story to tell about its present and its future, and I’m excited to be part of that storytelling process.”

Jacob also teaches an advanced writing class for public relations students in the corporate communications and public affairs program at Meadows as an adjunct. He and his wife, Alison, have been married 17 years and have three children: Carter (14), Molly (11) and Margaret (7). They attend First UMC Richardson.

February 2022 News Perspective Online

Student Spotlight: Marty Loman

As a child, Marty Loman often traveled along with his grandfather, a tent revivalist whose fiery sermons typically ran an hour or more. At Asbury College as an undergraduate, Loman expected he’d eventually become a minister. But then he began to question the evangelical faith he grew up in and its convictions of biblical inerrancy. For a time, he walked away from faith.

Loman earned a master’s degree at Virginia Tech, joined the corporate world and started a family. Eventually, he returned to church, joining Preston Hollow Presbyterian (PCUSA) in Dallas, and began teaching adult education and youth Sunday school classes. A lifelong desire to pursue a seminary education persisted. Now, he’s a second year M.T.S student, attending Perkins part-time while working full-time in tech planning with AT&T.

“I’ve had a number of people tell me they weren’t surprised I ended up here,” he said. “I’ve always felt a gentle nudge to attend seminary for the learning aspect.”

In his studies, Loman is particularly interested in the intersection of first and second century rabbinical literature and the teachings of Jesus.

“I’ve always had a fascination for Judaica, and I have a number of members of my family who converted to Judaism,” he said.

Loman is attending Perkins largely for personal enrichment but says he may eventually explore a second career after retiring from AT&T, likely in the next few years. He has been a volunteer teacher at Preston Hollow Presbyterian for 16 years and hopes he might continue teaching as part of his career.

Perkins was a good fit because of its proximity to home and because the school’s more affirming approach to Scripture is compatible with Loman’s personal beliefs.

“I looked at a number of online schools, but I wanted to be part of a local community at seminary,” he said. “Plus, I’ve had a number of friends who went through Perkins. I was impressed with the level of education they’ve gotten.”

Loman is married and has four adult daughters and two grandchildren, ages 4 and 1. Despite his busy schedule, he manages to squeeze in some extracurricular activity, serving as a student representative on one of the curriculum committees. He enjoys seeing other part-time students who, like him, work full-time, but he’s also appreciative of the overall diversity of Perkins’ student body.

To decompress, Loman walks often – perhaps listening to a podcast from Richard Rohr as he treks along Katy Trail — and meditates 20-30 minutes daily with Buddhist mala beads, a practice he credits to the class he took with Dr. Ruben Habito.

When asked to share a favorite quote or wisdom saying, Loman refers to a concept he learned from his studies of rabbinical teachings – one that has guided his teaching as well as his own education.

“In religion and theology, we’re typically looking for answers, he said. “But in the rabbinical tradition, the goal is to ask a better question. Whenever I’ve taught, I’ve told my students, ‘You won’t come out of this class with the answer. Instead, look for ways to ask better questions.’ I’m always trying to ask a better question.”


February 2022 News Perspective Online

Alumna Profile: Leslie Stewart

While a student at Perkins, church planting was the last thing that the Rev. Leslie Stewart (M.Div., 2014) thought she wanted to do.

“I thought church planters were a little weird,” she said. “I mean, who would want to work that hard?”

But, as fate would have it, Stewart has spent most of her ministerial career so far planting churches – and will continue to do so, as she starts a new position as missioner for congregational vitality-new communities for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.  Before this new position, Stewart most recently served as church planter and then as vicar of Resurrection Church in Plano, Texas since 2016. She began her new position November 1, 2021.

Even though church planting wasn’t what she planned to do, Stewart says her Perkins education – combined with her years of military experience – prepared her perfectly.

Military Detour

Attending Perkins marked the beginning of Stewart’s second career. Although she felt a call to ministry early in life, she enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to help pay for her education.

“At that point my life took a prodigal turn,” she said. “I found I really enjoyed what I was doing in the military.”

She began in Air Force Special Operations where she met her husband, Mike. She was selected for a commissioning program and graduated with honors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1999, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Engineering and was commissioned as an officer.​ As an aerospace physiologist, she completed Physiology Officer Flight Training and trained pilots and aircrew at the Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. When her son Ryan was born, she transferred to an F-16 unit at the Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth until she left the military to attend Perkins.

The years in Special Operations – as part of a team that deployed nearly 300 days a year, in 18 to 20 different locations round the world – taught her skills for maneuvering in unfamiliar territory.

“In Special Ops, you go into an area where there’s no structure, and you form relationships, both inside and outside of your organization,” she said. “Because there’s no structure, you have to create it. That’s very similar to what you do when you plant a church in a community.”

Prepared by Perkins

Perkins also helped her prepare.

“I owe everything to Perkins,” she said. “I learned the skill set I needed for church planting. It’s the place where I discovered the pieces of the mystery that God was leading me on, and how the church could innovate for the new era that we are entering.”

She remembers clearly her first class was with Dr. Theodore Walker, who made her feel immediately at home at Perkins. Dr. Hal Recinos’ Church and Social Context class introduced her to key concepts about meeting people where they are — “I didn’t understand it at the time, but what I was looking at was how to read a community and bring people around the issue they’re facing. God was giving this learning to me early, before I could reject it!” Dr. Roy Heller’s classes taught her how to read Scripture and to pay attention to “first things” – the way God set the stage for what was to come and spoke to people in the wilderness.

Now, as Stewart continues her education, pursuing a D. Min. at Perkins, she’s also thankful for Dr. Suzanne Johnson’s course in social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

“Her course was eye-opening and lifegiving; I learned models and systems for leadership and innovation in the church,” she said.

The Church of Get Back Up

Her years in the military also gave Stewart a heart for serving veterans. In her previous position, as Vicar of Resurrection Church in Plano, she added a special service tailored to veterans and first responders and their families.

“Anyone who had experienced trauma would be more comfortable with this service,” she said.

She started the service by adapting a model first developed by the Rev. Sean Steele, an Episcopal priest in Spring, Texas. The service is built around a high intensity workout; the liturgy was based on the Book of Common Prayer. Because people who have survived trauma are often uncomfortable sitting in pews, worshippers sat in a circle to hear the sermon before the workout.

“We were trying to reach people who would not otherwise come through the church doors,” she said. “We used innovative problem solving to come up with that process and the liturgy.”

Warrior Church and looking at Christian teaching through the lens of trauma, is the subject of Stewart’s D. Min. dissertation.

“Warrior Church was designed to help the church treat moral injury and trauma,” she said. “I want to help the church reimagine its goal in healing people with trauma.”

Stewart told worshippers: “Ours is the only religion that worships a savior who was wounded, who suffered and died. I talked about the Post-Trauma God and how to live a resurrected life. We called ourselves the ‘The Church of Get Back Up.’”

Looking Ahead

In her new position, Stewart will bring all of her education and experiences to bear as she serves on the diocese’s Mission Amplification team, charged with the support and coaching of 154 existing congregations, twelve churches planted in the past four years, six campus mission hubs, and fourteen other campus missions. The team continues to plant new congregations and missional communities and expand to additional campuses.

“It’s very exciting to be on the leading edge of innovation,” she said. “Church planting requires adaptive leadership. I love the fact that, in my new job, I’m multiplying my reach.  I get to help other congregations when they have problems and need to innovate.”

Stewart has been married to her husband, Michael, for 28 years, and has a son, Ryan, 21, and a dog named Conrad.

And while she’s been out of the Air Force for more than 10 years, she hasn’t entirely given up flying. During the height of the pandemic, she took up paramotoring, a type of paragliding that involves a powered backpack.

“It’s kind of like an airplane in a backpack. Look it up on YouTube!”