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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.

January 2019 News Perspective Online

A Message from Dean Hill

Late December/early January is a time to look back and to look forward. This is certainly true for me in the midst of my third year as Dean at Perkins School of Theology.

They say it takes about three years to acclimate oneself to a new position and a new location. Indeed, it has begun to seem normal to look out my office window and see the sun shining on the columns of Perkins Chapel and on the trees ornamenting the exterior of Bridwell Library.  There is comfort in such familiarity, to be sure, but also some danger: that one might begin to take good things for granted and that one might start to overlook new possibilities and perspectives.

There is much about Perkins that I want never to take for granted. Above all, it is the quality of the people who make up this school—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other supporters together. Many years ago, I rowed in an “eight” (a boat with a crew of eight) for my college at Oxford University. It was not easy for us all to stay in sync. Too often, one of us (me, the unpracticed American, most of all) would “catch a crab,” which means that the blade of an oar was trapped in the water by the momentum of the boat, throwing off the rhythm of the entire crew and costing it precious time. On the other hand, there were days when it all came together beautifully, when we pulled as one and moved cleanly and powerfully through the water. Those were exhilarating moments.

I feel a similar exhilaration at Perkins when I witness good people pulling in the same direction, moving us forward with grace and speed. I can’t tell you how many meetings (yes, meetings!) at Perkins I have left with a sense of joy for being part of an excellent team that is working together in sync.

I also hope never to take for granted those who worked and sacrificed to create, grow and sustain this institution over so many years. I recently attended the December SMU Commencement. It reminded me of my older sister’s SMU graduation decades ago, which I attended while still in high school. It suddenly occurred to me that Dean Joseph Quillian, whom I had known only from his picture in Kirby Hall and the Grimes and Allen histories, almost certainly was also there, sitting on the platform just as I was now. I must have seen him myself, a thought that touched me and gave me a new appreciation for the ties that bind us all across the years.

But appreciation for the past and familiarity with the present should not cause us to miss opportunities to respond to current and future needs or to improve in other ways. As you read this and further issues of Perspective, you’ll see that Perkins is growing and adapting while holding true to its core identity and mission. Doubtless, this always has—and I hope, always will be—true. I hope that a future Dean, perhaps someone currently in high school, will look back with appreciation on those of us who support Perkins today, and will look forward in anticipation to what God will next do at and through our school.

Grace and peace,


January 2019 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management: Financial Literacy Program

Helping Theology Students Become Financially Savvy

Nobody goes into ministry for the money. Most students choose to pursue a seminary education out of a sense of calling.  But when theology school students graduate with heavy debt loads, that can weigh heavily on their ministries.

According to a 2014 study by the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary, more than a quarter of students graduating in 2011 with a Master of Divinity degree had more than $40,000 in debt. Some 5 percent were more than $80,000 in the red.

At Perkins, the Financial Literacy Program aims to ease that burden.

“Our goal is to help our students at Perkins to become financially savvy, and to make it fun and informative,” said Jean Nixon, Financial Literacy Coordinator.

The program is funded through a $250,000 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. Perkins was one of 67 theological schools across the U.S. and Canada to receive grant funding.

Burdensome Debt

After graduation, debt becomes more than a source of worry and a financial strain.  Many seminary grads are forced to moonlight, or even to choose another job instead of ministry, to pay the bills.  Personal financial pressures may severely limit the ability of seminary graduates to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermine their effectiveness.

“Even though Perkins does a good job of giving financial aid to most students, it’s still very expensive to attend graduate school,” Nixon said. “And most students are going into jobs that might pay little or that will only be part-time, which makes it really hard to pay off that debt.”

Perkins’ Financial Literacy program aims to better prepare students, primarily through a series of monthly educational gatherings. Each event features financial experts and other speakers, a free lunch and opportunities for individual counseling for those students who desire it.

The program kicked off in the fall semester, starting in September with a session on student debt titled “The Elephant in the Room.”  The October program, “Lipstick on the Pig,” focused on budgeting, and the November program, “Feed My Sheep,” offered a Q&A with Perkins alumni.

In December, some 50 attendees came to the Literacy Program’s session on celebrating the holidays on a budget, with a chef demonstration on frugal cooking, tips for finding gifts at the Dollar Store and ideas for low-cost DIY gift wrapping.

“The whole idea was that you can still have a great holiday without breaking the bank,” Nixon said.

Pres Ida del Rosario Pimentel, an M.A.M. student in Pastoral Care at Perkins, attended all the sessions this fall and expressed gratitude for the program.

“To continue to meet the call of serving people, we need to take care of ourselves,” she said. “Just as God provided Sabbath, I think of financial literacy as self-care.”

Pimentel added that she has shared some of the information she’s learned with church workers in the Philippines.

“My calling is working with clergy, deaconesses and church workers, equipping them and providing tools for their ministry,” she said. “Most of the church workers who leave the ministry do so because of finances.”

Changing the Culture

A key aspect of the program is educating students on how to choose loans wisely and to limit the amount borrowed where possible. The program also aims to combat a common perception that equates loans with “free money.”

“We’re trying to change the financial culture of seminary students based on the fact that it’s not the highest paid profession,” said Nixon.

Gatherings in 2019 will focus on good financial habits and taxes for clergy persons.  Special one-on-one counseling will be offered in the spring to assist senior students in managing student loans after graduation.

Nixon’s office also publishes a Financial Literacy News newsletter for Perkins and posts weekly Bible quotes relating to wise financial management on screens in the hallways of Perkins campus buildings. Plans are underway to create a web page connected directly to Perkins’ financial aid page.

Pimentel sums up what she’s learned so far: “Live simply, find ways to reduce debt, and if you have to take out a loan, shop around for the best option of repayment. It’s not shameful to be in debt and most of all, there are programs such as the Perkins Financial Literacy as resources.”

January 2019 News Perspective Online

Office of Development: Perkins Scholars

This fall, Perkins welcomed a second cohort of Perkins Scholars.  The Perkins Scholar designation is given to students who have distinguished themselves in their previous studies.  Ten Master of Divinity (M.Div.) students from each entering class make up each year’s cohort. Each Perkins Scholar receives a scholarship totaling $21,000, spread over three years, in addition to any other scholarship awards.

In the spring of 2017, the Perkins Executive Board took up the challenge to put this project in motion.  Members of the Executive Board, an advisory board to the Dean, care deeply about Perkins School of Theology and the student body. A goal of 10 Perkins Scholars a year was created. Several members have pledged more than one scholarship!

Members of the first cohort of Perkins Scholars (pictured) completed their initial year of M.Div. studies, and are currently enrolled for the second year.  The second cohort of Perkins Scholars began M.Div. studies this fall, and have acclimated to life at Perkins.  The students in the second cohort of Perkins Scholars are Paul Bussert, Jessica Hallett, Steven James, Shayla Jordan, Shandon Klein, Adam Lubbers, Margo Moore, Kelly Rose, Matthew Schroeder and Vicki Wood.

Perkins is now raising funds for the third cohort of Perkins Scholars who will be chosen to enter M.Div. studies in the fall of 2019. At that time, there will be 30 Perkins Scholars in Dallas and Houston combined, ten in each class. Collectively, they will receive a total of $630,000 in Perkins Scholar awards by graduation!

Welcome to this outstanding group of M.Div. students. A special thanks to the generous donors who have contributed to this scholarship program! If you or your church would like to participate in the Perkins Scholar program please let me know.

With a thankful heart,

John A. Martin
Director of Development
Perkins School of Theology


Read more about the 2018-19 Perkins Scholars.

January 2019 News Perspective Online

Innovative Project Expands Global Theological Education

The book of Acts calls on believers to witness “to the ends of the earth.”  With a new digital platform, Perkins aims to go even further: bringing that witness to and from the ends of the earth.

With the Global Theological Education Virtual Visiting Professor project, Perkins is helping create a fully accessible and continually growing library of short classes coming from scholars world-wide and available across the globe.

“It’s creating resources from the entire world, to be available to the entire world for theological education, not only in seminaries but also in Sunday school classes and other groups,” said Robert Hunt, a faculty member and Director of Global Theological Education (GTE) at Perkins.

To make these resources available to teachers and students worldwide, including those in remote areas, the GTE program will use both the internet and custom-built intra-net devices that require no Internet access. This will not only strengthen theological education globally but will give scholars in the global south the opportunity to share their unique insights and wisdom.

Additionally, modules and materials developed through this program will be made available to the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church’s Course of Study and Regional Hubs dedicated to Global Theological Education.

Rev. Dr. Kim Cape (Photo Credit: GBHEM)

“We at GBHEM welcome Perkins’ bold new initiative to better serve the global education and ministry needs of the United Methodist Church,” said Rev. Kim Cape, General Secretary of the denomination’s leadership development agency. “With Perkins we are committed to providing access to quality theological education world-wide.”

The project aims to meet a need for theological education outside the U.S., particularly in Africa, where church membership is growing rapidly and the pipeline for educating pastors can’t keep pace, said Andrew Harper, a Perkins alum (M.T.S., ’16) and head of Global Partnerships at Cliff College—one of the project’s partner organizations.

“In Africa, education is very expensive, there’s a shortage of funding and a lack of expertise in particular areas, such as pastoral care and counseling,” he said. “The church in Africa is seeing a great need to equip their pastors and theology students, but the expertise has been largely centralized in the global north. We have an immense opportunity to provide a platform to share that knowledge.”

The project began with a conversation between Perkins and leaders of the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences of the United Methodist Church, which includes Africa, the Philippines and Europe, as well as representatives of the denomination’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). That led to a commitment by Perkins to help develop resources to benefit theological schools in the Central Conferences.

“We would want to develop resources that come from outside the U.S., from scholars in Africa, the Philippines and Latin America, and make them available on a platform that will be available to everyone, and we have moved quickly in that direction,” Hunt said.

To date, the project has created a model for online learning and a pilot website featuring Ted Campbell’s existing online course in Early Methodism. (To see the pilot course, visit  Short videos on the history of Methodism in other countries are also posted there.) Currently, seminary leaders in Africa, the Philippines and Latin America have reviewed the pilot website and provided feedback on the approach.

Robert Hunt with Flor Miranda (Head of Wesley University Manila) and Agnes Nuestro (Cavite State University) after speaking at the Global Forum on Education, in Manila. July 2018.

As important, in 2019 the program will begin to record and produce courses led by scholars at United Methodist institutions in the Philippines, Africa and Latin America. Hunt traveled to the Philippines in July and December, and South Africa in November, and has confirmed plans for the first resource creation seminar in May of 2019. By partnering with the Philippines Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities, the program will create as many as a dozen short courses in a week’s time. Similar resource creation seminars, structured to meet local needs and to take advantage of unique opportunities, will be held in Africa and Latin America later in the year.

The program is also partnering with the American Society of Missiology and the International Association of Mission Studies to produce short “master classes” with important missiological thinkers from around the globe. And it hopes to take advantage of upcoming meetings of women in theological leadership to integrate their perspectives into the available resources.

“Immediately, the plan is to have 15 to 25 short courses on the website and the intra-net devices by end of 2019,” Hunt said. “As we move forward, we will work with local institutions to develop appropriate methods of resource creation. Our seminars will train leaders in online pedagogical methods so that they can adapt available technology to continue to produce new courses from scholars in those countries.” The program will also partner with the Hunt Institute of Engineering and the Humanities at SMU to develop courses for pastors related to leadership in community development.

In developing the online platform, Hunt drew on expertise in online teaching from SMU’s Annette Simmons School of Education & Human Development. A typical course will feature multiple modules, each with a video lecture of 8-12 minutes in length, as well as assigned readings and accompanying materials (such as illustrations, charts, and data), discussion questions, and an online discussion forum.  To adapt Campbell’s online course as a pilot, his hour-long lectures were divided into shorter “chunks” for easier viewing from a small device such as a mobile phone.

“Typical online courses based on hour-long video lectures are neither pedagogically effective nor technologically advisable,” Hunt said. “The lectures take too long to download and can rarely keep a student’s interest.”

Each course will have clear learning objectives and criteria for measuring how each student meets those objectives. “This is important so that, regardless of where the student is, the course can meet their accreditation requirements,” Hunt said.

Robert Hunt with Andrew Harper, (Head of Cliff Global, Cliff College, England,) and Kennedy Gondongwu, (Principal of the United Theological College of Zimbabwe.) Oxford Institute, August 2018.

One challenge of the project will be to ensure that teachers aren’t isolated from fellow scholars, and students don’t study in isolation – that they have access to other students and to professors for discussion and dialogue. So, in addition to internet enabled discussion groups, project leaders are working with SMU’s engineering and computer science faculty to identify the best technology to extend online discussion possibilities to remote areas.

“Broadband is sparse in Africa, but almost every person in Africa has a mobile phone,” Harper said. “We are working on finding the best ways to bring people together digitally.”

Ultimately, each Central Conference theological school will determine how the online resources are used – whether for distance learning, as part of a hybrid curriculum, or as material for classroom teaching, or as homework assignments.  Because the courses are presented in short segments, the material will also be ideal for Sunday School classes and other informal learning settings.

“Initial funding for these efforts comes from the Perkins School of Theology Global Theological Education Fund, a grant from the Association of Boards in Theological Education’s In-Trust Center for Theological Schools, and the Woodworth Estate in Oklahoma,” said John A. Martin, Director of Development and External Affairs. “And we’re currently seeking funding to extend the project after 2019.”

Harper notes that sending an African student to the U.K. to obtain a theology degree at Cliff College costs about $75,000; for that cost, an online program could deliver 33 Master’s degrees to students in Africa.

“If we want to talk about good stewardship of Christian money, that’s just huge,” he said.

Ultimately, the project will give western theology students and scholars access to the perspectives of scholars in Africa and other developing nations.  Harper cited examples of African church leaders who have done cutting-edge work in evangelism and reconciliation, developing that expertise through “unspeakable” challenges faced in those countries, but whose expertise has not yet been shared widely.

“I see this whole project as highly anti-colonial,” Harper said. “It is a decentralization of theological education, and it will be a disruptive force.”

“By gathering resources from around the globe for use around the globe we hope to create a truly global theological education for students around the world,” said Hunt. “An education for students anywhere, accessible both in the classroom and beyond.”


Participants in feature photo at top (from left): Rev. Shannon Conklin-Miller, Assistant General Secretary for Clergy Formation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United Methodist Church; Dean Craig C. Hill, Perkins School of Theology; Dr. Robert Hunt, Director, Global Theological Education Program, Perkins; Rev. Connie Nelson, Director of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations, Perkins; Dr. Andrew Harper, head of Global Theological Education, Cliff College, UK; Bishop Patrick Streiff, resident bishop of Central and Southern Europe Area and chair of the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences; Mark Greim, Business Manager, Perkins; Dr. Evelyn Parker, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Perkins; Dr. John Martin, Director of Development, Perkins; Dr. David Field, Academic Coordinator of Methodist E-Academy; and Dr. Andrew Keck, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives, Perkins.

January 2019 News Perspective Online

Houston Lay School of Theology

The annual Houston Lay School of Theology will take place on Saturday, February 16 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston. The program, “Praying with the Desert Fathers and Mothers,” will be led by Tamara Lewis, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity, Perkins School of Theology.

The day-long course invites participants to travel back in time to rediscover the spiritual riches of the ascetic mothers and fathers of the desert, who left mainstream society to devote themselves to worship, prayer and contemplation of Christ in the deserts of Egypt and Syria. In this harsh physical environment, these early believers risked all to achieve what they believed were the essential mental, spiritual, and physical purifications towards greater unity with God.

Participants will have the chance to reflect on their writings and learn from their prayer practices.

“For the patriarchs, and the prophets, and the mothers, and disciples, yes even for Christ, the desert was a place that refined one’s strength,” said Lewis. “The desert is the place of suffering, but also deepens one’s sense of dependence on God.”

For a long time, Lewis noted, some scholars denied that the Desert Mothers even existed. They claimed no women went out to the desert, only the men – that women stayed at home, not daring to venture out into the realm of the abyss, to the underworld, to the place of dry bones.  Now the tradition of the Desert Mothers is generally accepted. Historical writings and the texts reveal that in early Christianity, women often wore male habits in order to enter monasteries or survive in the desert.

The writings and experiences of the Desert Fathers and Mothers speak to anyone who seeks a deeper experience of faith, Lewis added.

“The desert invites us to ask ourselves, ‘Are we willing to die in those places that need to die?’ she said. “Jesus said let the dead bury their own dead. Will we? What are we holding onto that needs to die?”

Sponsored by Perkins, the Houston Lay School meets each February and August, offering an opportunity for laity and others to explore issues of spirituality, theology, religion and church leadership with faculty from Perkins and guest speakers.  The program is made possible in part by the Howard-Holbert Endowment at SMU.  To register, click here.

January 2019 News Perspective Online

Student Spotlight: Maxwell Urbina

Sometimes, when you’re looking to help someone, you find something for yourself. That’s how Maxwell Urbina ended up a Perkins student.

“Initially, I looked into SMU for my brother, who was interested in a career in engineering at the time,” he said.  “And I realized that God was guiding me to Perkins.”

In researching SMU, Urbina discovered that Perkins offered the M.Div. degree. A member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, he’d been planning to pursue that degree at Andrews University’s Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Michigan. But that would have meant spending years away from his family. His wife, Avelina Diaz de Urbina, is a physician and needed to stay in Dallas to work on obtaining her medical license in the U.S.

Thankfully, Perkins proved a good fit, and Urbina is on track to graduate in 2020.  He has jumped wholeheartedly into campus life.  He represents Perkins in the SMU Student Senate, serving on the Senate Scholarship Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, and is a member of the Perkins Student Development Committee.

Urbina also serves as Residential Community Chaplain (RCC) for the residential Commons that includes Mary Hay, Peyton, and Shuttles Halls, a responsibility he takes to heart.  After learning about the practice of walking prayer in Ruben Habito’s spiritual formation class, Urbina began visiting every floor of each building in the commons every day, conducting a daily one-man walking prayer vigil.

“I’m walking the hall slowly and having a word of prayer for each student as I pass each student’s doorway,” he said.

Urbina hasn’t met any other Seventh-Day Adventist students on campus – but sees that as a source of blessing.

“Most of my Perkins classmates do not belong to the United Methodist Church,” he said. “They’re Pentecostal, Episcopal, Lutheran, Church of God, Catholic – and I learn from all these traditions.  I think God sent me to this university to open my mind and my eyes and my theology. Not to change my doctrines or my beliefs, but to understand more when I meet someone who’s not in my faith … to understand that we are still children of God, all worshipping the same God, but from different perspectives.”

Urbina, who is originally from Nicaragua, comes from a family of politicians. He is the great-grandson of Joaquín Zavala Solís, President of Nicaragua in the late 19th century, and several of his family members were close associates of Anastasio “Tachito” Somoza DeBayle, who served two terms as President of Nicaragua in the 1960s and 1970s.  But since he was a young boy, he has felt the call to ministry. He has already chalked up 18 years of experience as a pastor, having served Seventh-Day Adventist churches in Puerto Rico, California and Texas. For his next chapter, he’d like to pursue the chaplaincy full-time. He’s currently serving as a chaplain at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

“I know God called me to this ministry as a pastor,” he said. “Now, I believe He can use me to help people in the last moment of their lives.”

In the educational journey that eventually brought him to Perkins, he says, he has often had to step out in faith.  When he first began pursuing an undergraduate degree at Washington Adventist University in Maryland, he was undocumented, lacking the proper paperwork to matriculate as well as the money to pay the deposit on his tuition and expenses.  Somehow, he says, God provided.

Even his own birth, Urbina believes, was a miracle.  His mother was in Managua, just three weeks pregnant, in December 1972 when a devastating earthquake struck, killing thousands and leaving 300,000 homeless.  She was injured by a falling piece of heavy furniture and began to bleed; the family believed she was miscarrying. Maxwell believes it was prayer that healed her and saved the pregnancy.

Experiences like these lead Urbina to claim Joshua 1:9 as his favorite Bible verse: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

“When I read Joshua 1:9, it’s like it was written it for me,” he said. “Every day it reminds me that I have to be strong. Because God is always there for me.

January 2019 News Perspective Online

Faculty Profile: Alyce M. McKenzie

Alyce McKenzie remembers vividly an image that struck her deeply, in the early days of her career: the look of expectation in the faces of worshippers at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in York, Pa., as she stepped up to the pulpit to begin her sermon.

“It was like, ‘Please, sir, can I have some more?’” she said, invoking the iconic scene where Oliver Twist pleads for more food. “There’s this hope that springs eternal. I thought, ‘Surely there’s additional training I can seek that can help me answer that hunger more effectively.’”

That moment put McKenzie on a path that’s still guiding much of her academic work and career. She’s not only preparing Perkins students to become better preachers, but also coaching current pastors in improving their preaching, constantly researching new ways to help pastors preach more effectively, and often preaching at local churches.  All of which, in turn, inspires and informs her academic work.

As Director of the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at SMU, “I’m in touch with church leaders and pastors from a variety of denominations, helping to form and lead groups of pastors dedicated to taking their preaching to the next level,” she said. “It gives me a connection with the challenges and needs for enrichment of pastors in local congregation.”

McKenzie also gives lectures and leads workshops at seminaries and colleges. This spring she’ll lecture at Memphis Theological Seminary, and she is guest lecturer for the John and Marjem Gill Preaching Workshop at Hendrix College.  She recently published a textbook for preachers and preaching students, Making A Scene in the Pulpit: Vivid Preaching for Visual Listeners, which grew out of the Lyman Beecher Lectures she presented at Yale Divinity School in 2015.

McKenzie is enthusiastic about a new project co-sponsored by the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at SMU and Westminster John Knox Press called “Preaching and…” which came out of a brainstorming session with colleague O. Wesley Allen, Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics. It pairs experts in homiletics with scholars from other disciplines in interdisciplinary workshops that offer fresh insights for preaching from other fields. The first workshop, scheduled for April 8, 2019 at Perkins, will bring together Allen and Carrie La Ferle, a professor at SMU Meadows’ Temerlin Advertising Institute, on the topic, “Preaching and the Thirty Second Commercial.” The second workshop will be Preaching and Politics in which McKenzie will collaborate with a political scientist.   Ultimately, the workshops will result in a series of books for preachers, edited by Allen and published by Westminster John Knox Press.

“Now that there is so much competition for people’s attention, it’s more important than ever that we learn strategies from other disciplines for reaching people’s minds, hearts and wills,” McKenzie said. “Marketing experts are masters of analyzing the market, branding the product and then putting on a campaign to convince people that the product is absolutely necessary to their everyday lives.” Future “Preaching and” topics include neuroscience, humor studies and screenwriting.

McKenzie attends First United Methodist in Allen, which will focus its 2019 Lenten sermons and study groups on a book she has written for a popular audience published in 2018, Wise Up! Four Biblical Virtues for Navigating Life. She also serves as “Preacher in Residence” at Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, where she coaches the church’s preaching staff, leads group workshops on preaching, and also preaches several times a year.

This month, McKenzie will be honored by the Academy of Preachers, a group dedicated to nurturing the skills of young preachers, with an Award in Homiletical Writing at the Academy’s National Festival in Atlanta.

“I enjoy teaching at Perkins, but the other things I do are not add-ons,” she said. “They are integral to Perkins’ mission to ‘prepare women and men for faithful leadership in Christian Ministry.’”

Teaching Specialties

Preaching biblical wisdom literature; imagination and preaching; spiritual formation and preaching; preaching as teaching; creative sermon design; preaching the sayings and parables of Jesus; preaching on controversial public issues.

Research Interests

Preaching the biblical wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job); preaching on the short sayings and parables of Jesus; imagination, storytelling and preaching; creative sermon design; preaching on controversial public issues; preaching in scenes to capture and hold the attention of visual listeners.


Husband Murry McKenzie, who directed youth musicals at the first church she was appointed to after seminary. “The ladies of the church played matchmakers – they put us on the same committees,” she said. The McKenzies have three grown children: Melissa McKenzie, a chef in Fredericksburg, Texas, Matthew McKenzie, a financial analyst for VMG Health Services, and Rebecca Gingles, a Perkins graduate and Director of Communications for The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, who’s married to Dallas Gingles, Associate Director of Perkins’ Houston-Galveston Program. The McKenzies have two grandsons, Graham (5) and Silas (1).

Book on the nightstand

“Right now, it’s a novel, The Witch Elm by Tana French. I rotate between biographies, novels, non-fiction and history.  I just finished Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America and The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym.”

Question she’d ask God at the Pearly Gates

“What false assumption that human beings spout about you do you find most offensive?”

Fantasy dinner party

“I’d invite people who, in their own ways, acted boldly in keeping with an inner conviction. George Whitfield, who was a phenomenal 18th century preacher known for his riveting storytelling and resonant voice; Queen Vashti, who stood up to King Ahasuerus in the book of Esther; Sophie Scholl, who at age 22 stood up to the Nazis in Germany, and suffered the consequences; St. Francis of  Assisi; Jarena Lee (1783-1864), a traveling female AME evangelist who boldly stood up for her right to preach; Aimee Semple McPherson, the Pentecostal evangelist who founded the Foursquare Church in the 1920s and 1930s; Audre Lord, poet, feminist and civil rights advocate; and Winston Churchill.  The question I’d ask each: What’s the source of your fire in the belly?”

Signature dish

“McKenzie’s Fabulous Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, with bran, flaxseed, ground nuts and oatmeal. I made a game out of trying to see how many heathy ingredients I could add and still have them taste good.”

January 2019 News Perspective Online

Meet the Perkins Scholars

Meet the newest class of Perkins Scholars! These students, who arrived at Perkins in fall 2018, represent the latest cohort in this new scholarship program, which was launched in 2017. The program is geared toward attracting outstanding M.Div. students who have distinguished themselves in their previous studies.

The inaugural class of Perkins Scholars entered the community in the fall of 2017, and the third class will begin in the fall of 2019.  A total goal of $630,000 in funding will provide for three classes.

Read more about the Perkins Scholars program from Director of Development John Martin.


Paul Bussert
Hometown: Bixby, Oklahoma
Undergraduate major: Instrumental Music Education – Oklahoma State University
Career goal: Serving as a fully ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, hopefully within the Oklahoma conference.


Jessica Hallett
Hometown: Quitman, Arkansas
Undergraduate major: History, minor in Anthropology – Arkansas Tech University
Career goal: Serving as an elder in the United Methodist Church.


Steven James
Hometown: Mesquite, Texas
Undergraduate major: Journalism – University of North Texas
Career goal: Considering pastoral ministry as well as opportunities in immigration chaplaincy, refugee chaplaincy, and prison ministry.


Shayla Jordan
Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Undergraduate major: Philosophy and Religious Studies, minor in Leadership Studies – Southwestern College
Career goal: Ordination in the United Methodist Church while pursuing a calling in higher education.


Shandon Klein
Hometown: Richardson, Texas
Undergraduate major: Biology and Chemistry – Minnesota State University Moorhead
MS in Biotechnology – Johns Hopkins University
Career goal:  An ordained elder within the United Methodist Church.


Adam Lubbers
Hometown: Granbury, Texas
Undergraduate major: Biblical Text & Languages and History – Abilene Christian University
MA in Medieval History – University of York
Career goal:  Ordained elder in the United Methodist church, with plans to pursue a doctorate.


Margo Moore
Hometown: Westfield, Indiana
Undergraduate major: Communications – Baylor University
Career goal: Sharing the gospel with people from an academic perspective.


Kelly Rose
Hometown: Kingswood, Texas
Undergraduate major: Christian Ministry, emphasis in Youth Ministry, minor in Communications – University of Mary-Hardin Baylor
Career goal: Pursuing a doctoral program with the hopes of being a professor.


Matthew Schroeder
Hometown: McKinney, TX
Undergraduate major: Literary Studies – The University of Texas at Dallas
MA in Literary Studies – The University of Texas at Dallas
Career goal: Either to start a church with a focus on LGBT+ and disability ministries or to get a PhD and teach queer and disability theology.


Victoria “Vicki” Wood
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Undergraduate major: Theatre – Hendrix College
Career goal: Ordination as either an Elder or Deacon in the United Methodist Church.

January 2019 News Perspective Online

Twelve Receive Degrees at December Graduation

Perkins celebrates our newest graduates, who received their diplomas during SMU’s December Commencement Convocation on Saturday, Dec. 15.

The 12 graduates include: Amber Rose Oxley Mitts, Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.); Kuppusamy Balasupramaniam, Jacqueline Dean-Shaw, Mark Andrew Hardin, Boon Hwa Lee, Demetrese D. Phillips, Tian Yeow Aaron Tay, Blair Elizabeth Thompson-White and James E. Woods II, Doctor of Ministry degree (D.Min.); and Duk Kun Kim, Darrius Josiah Montgomery and Walter Sithole, Master of Theological Studies degree (M.T.S.)

We give thanks to God for each of these students as they embrace their calls to serve in the world!