Priscilla Pope-Levison, Research Professor of Practical Theology, was recently quoted in a story in Baptist News Global: “Gen Z non-Christians pay most attention to those who live out their faith rather than preach it.” The story detailed new research suggesting that today’s teens – members of Gen Z – are curious about spirituality but disdain overt proselytizing, making them a challenging group for Christians who want to share their faith with others. That challenge is further complicated by the generation’s lack of biblical literacy. In the story, Pope-Levison said: “We can’t assume knowledge of Christianity on their part. Even with the kids raised in church we can’t use terms like ‘crucifixion’ or ‘grace’ or ‘salvation.” Read the article here.
Next Level Preaching Group Launched
The Next Level Preaching Group is a preaching peer group conducted on Zoom and co-sponsored by the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at SMU and the North Texas Conference Center for Leadership Development. Participants meet monthly, on the fourth Wednesday of each month, beginning in January 2022 for six months to discuss readings, view sermons and offer feedback. The group’s Homiletical Consultant is the Rev. Dr. Ronald J. Allen. The group’s Convener is the Rev. Cheryl Murphy, Senior Pastor of Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton, Texas.
Michael Hawn, professor emeritus of church music at Perkins, was quoted in a story about a special Epiphany worship service held in early January at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock. Hawn praised the cathedral’s Twelfth Night celebration. “While Advent and Christmas Eve are the most traditional times to schedule a Service of Lessons and Carols, it makes perfect sense to retell the story of the birth of Christ in its completeness during Epiphany, the time when the Magi visited the Christ child and then the Holy Family made the flight to Egypt, and the slaughter of the innocents,” Hawn said. “From a biblical perspective, this completes the nativity story in its fullness. Furthermore, the liturgical cycle is Advent-Christmas-Epiphany. Often we truncate the narrative to only include Advent-Christmas.” Read the Arkansas Democrat Gazette story here.
Recinos New Book
Harold J. Recinos’ latest book, Where the Sidewalks Meet, was published by Wipf and Stock in December 2021. “In Where the Sidewalks Meet, Recinos uses poetry like graffiti on public culture, to make references to the invisible in plain sight, and talk about border crossings. These poems delicately string together the disregarded world of excluded, muted, and rejected human beings and ‘shouts out the names’ of those the world only cares to look at sideways,” according to the book’s promotional announcement. Recinos’ love for poetry began on the streets of the South Bronx, after he was abandoned by his parents at age 12. On the streets, Recinos discovered a world of extreme poverty and drugs, until four years later he was taken into the family of a White Presbyterian minister and guided back into school. In graduate school in New York City, Recinos befriended the Nuyorican poets the late Miguel Pinero and Pedro Pietri who encouraged him to write and read poetry at the Nuyorican poets cafe.
Perkins student Allyson Penny was recently highlighted in an email newsletter from the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation (UMHEF).
Penny, a UMHEF Scholar, was quoted: “I am almost at the end of my Master of Divinity and on toward ordination in the Methodist Church. Continuing my education would not have been possible without support from scholarship foundations like you. Because of your generosity I am able to serve God’s people. Thank you!”
Penny is currently interning at FAM Houston, a United Methodist affiliated agency serving refugees, immigrants and others in Houston.
White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, Texas, hosted a healing service following the January 15 hostage standoff at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in nearby Colleyville, Texas. Perkins alumnus John McKellar (M.Div. ‘90) and Todd Renner are co-pastors of White’s Chapel. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the hostages, told those gathered, “While very few of us are doing OK right now, we will get through this. Somehow, together, we made it through that traumatic ordeal. We are so thankful to the source of redemption, the source of blessing, the source of peace, for redeeming us in our time of need.” The service was open to anyone who wanted to show support for the North Texas Jewish community. Read the story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegramhere.
Casteel is Bishop Candidate
The Rev. Diana Casteel (M.T.S. ‘10), a Presiding Elder, is a candidate for Bishop in in The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. “She has a proven track record,” according to her campaign announcement. “She cares about the church and the direction the church is going. Join us in praying, promoting, supporting and electing Diana Casteel as the next Bishop of The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.”
Abingdon Press has published The Sanctuary for Lent 2022 (December 2021) by the Rev. Danielle Buwon Kim (M.Div. ‘19). The devotional contains brief readings for each day in Lent, from Ash Wednesday through Easter Day, including a suggested Scripture, a short devotion and a short prayer―all based on the Revised Common Lectionary. “This annual favorite helps readers faithfully journey through Lent as they prepare to experience the joy of the Resurrection,” according to Abingdon’s announcement. “Along with being a great congregational resource, it is an excellent gift for family, friends, and those your congregation connects with through outreach.” Kim is Associate Minister of Adult Discipleship at Custer Road United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas. An immigrant from South Korea, she spent her later childhood in Houston. Her passion is in authentic discipleship, and innovative reading of the Scripture from diverse perspectives including immigrant and Asian American feminist perspectives. Read more about the book here.
Prayers After Tongan Volcano
The Rev. Sione Tu’uta (M.Div. ‘02) of First United Methodist Bossier, La., and a native of the Kingdom of Tonga, spent the days following the eruption of a volcano off the coast of Tonga in prayer. “You just don’t know who made it,” Tu’uta said, in an interview published in the Shreveport Times.
On Jan. 15, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano erupted roughly 40 miles north of the Tonga capital Nuku’alofa, resulting in waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. With an estimated population of 105,000 people, Tonga lost all access to communication outside the islands when the eruption damaged an underwater internet line, leaving friends and family members around the world anxiously trying to get in touch. As of Jan. 19, Tu’uta had not heard from his brothers since the day of the eruption. (Later reports suggest that loss of life was not extensive, but damage is widespread; communications were still limited at the time Perspective was distributed.)
Bar Association Honors Alum
Jennifer Kilpatrick (M.Div. ‘21) received the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s Kirsten Christophe Memorial Award for Excellence in Trial and Insurance Law during the TIPS fall meeting from Oct. 13-16 in Dallas. The award is named in honor of Kirsten Christophe, a former TIPS Council member who died Sept. 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center attack. This award is given to TIPS members with the exemplary attributes of balancing career, profession and family in life and practice.
“Jennifer Kilpatrick is an outstanding attorney,” said John McMeekin, chair of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, in a statement. “Her professional expertise in the field of toxic torts, mass torts and product liability litigation is second to none, but more than that, Jennifer is a thoughtful and considerate person and I’ve been in awe of her ability to juggle a successful career, raise a wonderful family and give back to her community.”
Following a 22-year career as a partner with Swanson, Martin & Bell, and later as of counsel at Riley Safer Holmes, Kilpatrick felt called to join the ministry, and now serves as senior pastor of Northgate United Methodist Church in Irving, Texas. Read the announcement here.
Four Alumni/ae Highlighted
The year 2021 was eventful for many churches, and those led by Perkins grads were no exception. Four Perkins alumni/ae were highlighted in a roundup of Top 10 stories for 2021 published by the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. They include:
The Rev. Jim Bass (M.Div. ‘90) was featured in a story about Winter Storm Uri’s effects on Friendswood UMC. The sanctuary is the only room that remained dry after pipes burst during winter freeze. The congregation faced extensive water damage, but members immediately stepped up to save their house of worship. “It was incredible everyone just came out and got to work,” Bass said. “Groups organized themselves and tackled different areas.” The pastor was reminded of the children’s hymn, “The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a meeting place, the church is a people.”
Pastor Michael Gienger (M.Div. ‘17) was featured in a story about how Galveston Central Church offered food and shelter to the unhoused in 2021. The church serves the island’s unhoused population year-round. The congregation transforms into a kitchen, bicycle repair shop, laundromat and shower facility every week. During the prolonged freezing weather in February, the church did even more, even though the congregation was without power itself. Galveston Central opened as a shelter, provided meals and offered showers. Gienger said that for many, the winter storm was a discomfort. For the unhoused population, however, this is typical. “For many folks, this is their common experience every day,” Gienger said. “How do we care for the most marginalized and vulnerable among us? This is an ongoing crisis with no end in sight.”
When the Rev. Alex Zeisig (M.Div. ‘16) learned he would be appointed to the already established church plant, the west campus at St. Peter’s UMC Katy, the congregation was struggling. The pastor, however, was undeterred. “Every week, my heart just grew with love for these people who I knew were hurting and were willing to persevere,” he said. The congregation has since weathered Hurricane Harvey and is now navigating COVID-19. “When everything was shut down, the Kingdom of Heaven was still being constructed,” Zeisig said. The pastor, during the Texas Annual Conference, was honored with the Eric Anderson Award, which honors young ministers who do outstanding work with evangelism.
After strapping on her skates and heading into the rink for a roller derby match, the Rev. Sadie Brink (M.Div. ‘17), senior pastor at Silsbee FUMC, becomes Slaydie Hawkins. She is number 23 on the Spindletop Rollergirls team – an outlet for camaraderie, exercise and evangelism.
Anthony Everett Receives Grant
In December, the Louisville Institute announced Dr. Anthony Everett (M.Div. ‘08) as a recipient of the 2022 Pastoral Study Project Grant Program for the project titled “Prophetic Activism Matters: A Legacy of Black Resistance.” Everett is an elder of the United Methodist Church and executive director of Mission Behind Bars and Beyond Inc.
The Louisville Institute’s Pastoral Study Project (PSP) offers pastoral leaders the gift of time and the resources to engage in focused inquiry related to the Christian life of faith, North American religious practices and institutions, or major challenges confronting contemporary society and the wider world. Through grants of up to $15,000, this program enables pastoral leaders to bracket daily work routines in order to pursue a pressing and significant question for the life of faith.
Campus Ministers Highlighted
The ministries of three Perkins alumnae/I serving as Wesley Foundation Directors were recently highlighted by the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church: Brittany Burrows (Master of Church Ministries ‘12), Marcus Jones (M.Div. ‘16) and Payton Parker (M.Div. ‘18). Read the story on the Conference website here.
Retired Pastor Shares Stories
The Rev. Isabel Chabelo Gomez was the guest speaker at an Epiphany Luncheon at Agape Memorial Church on Jan. 5. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2021, Gomez, 85, wanted to tell his stories of the Latinx Church in the conferences he has served in Rio Grande and North Texas. Read his stories in a feature on the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church website here.
Hanks Joins Saint Paul’s Cathedral
Rev. Paige Hanks (M. Div. ‘18) joined the staff at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City in January in an interim role as priest. “I am so excited to have the Rev. Paige Hanks with us,” said the Rev. Canon Katie Churchwell, the Cathedral’s Dean. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and love with her, and the Cathedral will be blessed by her presence among us, even if just for a short while.” A lifelong Episcopalian, Hanks has served parishes in North Carolina, Florida and Hawaii. Hanks’s husband David will join her as he works remotely; the couple has an adult daughter, Amelia, and a rescue dog named Annie.
Obit: The Rev. William “Bill” Steele
The Rev. William “Bill” Steele (M.Th., 1977) died December 23 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Steele served many different congregations including Tuckerman/Swifton, Asbury Magnolia, Pea Ridge, 1st UMC in Hope, Concord Lonoke, Sparkman and others in Florida.
The funeral took place on December 29 at First United Methodist Church in Marked Tree, Arkansas. Memorials may be made to: FUMC Marked Tree, 304 Frisco Street, Marked Tree, AR 72365. Read his obituary here.
Obit: The Rev. John Patton McClatchy
The Rev. John Patton McClatchy (M.Th., 1953) passed away January 13 at the age of 92. Services were held January 15th at the Central United Methodist Church in Brownwood, Texas. An ordained United Methodist minister, he served for 41 years in the Central Texas Conference. Eight of the 41 years he was a chaplain with the United States Air Force, where he met his future wife Lee Ann Emmick. In lieu of flowers please free to donate to the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco, Texas. Read an obituary here.