April 2019 April 2020 April 2021 December 2018 December 2019 December 2020 December 2021 February 2019 February 2020 February 2021 January 2019 January 2020 June 2019 June 2021 March 2019 March 2020 May 2019 May 2020 May 2021 News November 2018 November 2019 November 2020 November 2021 October 2018 October 2019 Perspective Online September 2019 September 2021

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 2020 News Perspective Online

A Message from Dean Hill: How to Spot a Future Church Leader

Hundreds of students over the years have shared with me the story of their call to ministry. They have ranged in age from their twenties to their seventies, and varied in almost every other way imaginable. Still, there is a thread common to the overwhelming majority of the accounts: some person or persons spotted and then encouraged them. It is as likely to have been a layperson as a pastor. Whoever they were, they saw potential in the other and suggested that they think seriously about ministry.

This is something any of us can and all of us should be willing to do, especially if we care about the future of the church. It used to be that ministry was one of a small number of default career options that able people typically considered, but that is much more rarely the case today. A hundred years ago, it was relatively common for a Rhodes Scholar to become an ordained member of the clergy. I know of one today (a friend and former student).

But what should you look for? What follows is by no means an exhaustive list. Moreover, a great variety of gifts and forms of service exist. That Rhodes Scholar I just mentioned cannot do everything equally well and has a distinctive calling. So take this a general guide, not a formal checklist. Also, I have not attempted to put these in rank order. The idea is simply to help you to be, like Barnabas in the book of Acts, one whom God uses to encourage others in their vocation. So, who might be a potential church leader?

  • One who assumes responsibility. Do they already see problems and attempt to solve them? Good leaders care about finding solutions, not laying blame. They are not scorekeepers. They do not believe that because they did not cause it, it is “not their problem.” They have a record of thinking both realistically and optimistically.
  • One who possesses integrity. This should go without saying, but too many clergy fail because they make fatal, often secret, compromises. One should not ask for perfection, of course, but for a solid moral core. Do they keep their promises? Are their public and private lives in harmony? Do they ever take an unpopular stand?
  • One whose faith is growing. Decades in ministry require an ever-expanding and maturing faith. Do you see evidence of such growth, both in depth but also in breadth, over the past few years? As far as you know, do they attend to their own spiritual health?
  • One who has a servant’s heart. Are they giving themselves to something greater than themselves, or is their time, attention, and imagination focused on themselves? Do they do things for others even when their acts are unheralded? In other words, are they humble or are they self-aggrandizing? What seems to give them the most energy? The most joy?
  • One who shows empathy. As always, we need leaders capable of empathizing with those in physical, mental, or spiritual need. Increasingly, we also require leaders who display empathy toward those with whom they disagree. We live today in what some have called a “culture of contempt,” in which ideological opponents are vilified as evil and/or stupid. Do they demon­strate a willingness to understand the other side and to reach across divisions? This does not mean being a doormat but, to change the metaphor, to be instead an open door to others.
  • One who thinks clearly and communicates compellingly. Do they put together ideas well and express themselves coherently and convincingly? Most ministers are, in effect, professional communicators. This is truer for some forms of church leadership than for others, but for many it is a matter of essential importance. Good preaching is perhaps the commonest request made by congregations. It can be taught to some extent, but the best communicators as pastors are nearly always those who already were excellent thinkers and communicators prior to seminary.
  • One who works well with others. Most of us have known pastors (a small minority, thankfully) who are domineering, self-involved, temperamental… (I’ll let you fill out the list!) Is there evidence that they thrive on teamwork, recruit talent, delegate authority, celebrate the contributions of others, and admit mistakes? If so, they are likely to have a fruitful ministry. Those who do not usually leave a human debris field in their wake.
  • One who sees opportunities. There is much to bemoan about the world today, not least in the church. It is easy to see the problems but much more challenging to identify the resulting opportun­ities. Have they started something new, especially at some cost or risk to themselves? Thriving ministries are typically creative ministries, and creativity requires some tolerance for experimentation and failure.
  • One who builds community. Over the past fifty years, we have witnessed a dramatic erosion in what sociologists term “social capital.” The majority of Americans today are significantly less connected to others than were previous generations. Most so-called “middle institutions” (that is, institutions with which one is closely identified that exist between the individual and the state, such as the PTA, the Lions Club, the VFW, and the church) have declined precipitously over these same decades, while the human need for association remains. Do they like to bring people together? Do they see church as a place for involvement, not simply entertainment?
  • One who already leads. Most future church leaders already lead in some capacity. Those who lead informally–for example, without holding a title or office—might not realize that what they do even constitutes leadership. Indeed, the best leadership is often unself-conscious. Someone else (you, I hope) might well recognize their gifts before they do. This is especially true of people who, for one reason or another, are unlikely to be identified through formal channels. Recall that Barnabas saw something in Paul, the church’s former persecutor, that others did not (Acts 9:26-27). Are they already leading, though perhaps under the radar?

That’s a daunting and humbling list, but I have known many people who match up well against it. You probably do, too.

Of course, one could possess all of these traits in spades and still not be called to ministry. But why not ask? After you’ve done so, one of our “Ministry Discernment Associates” would be happy to help them consider in detail whether they are indeed called to serve in this way; visit our admission site here. You can also refer a student  directly by clicking here.

I shall always be grateful for those, both laity and clergy, who did much the same thing for me.

Wishing you joy in the New Year,


January 2020 News

Office of Enrollment Management: You Can Invest in Perkins School of Theology

The Rev. Dr. Margot Perez-Greene, Ph.D. 
Associate Dean of Enrollment Management

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! Thank you for your continued support of Perkins.

These are exciting times in theological education, and we are doing our best to stay abreast of the changing tides. Creativity and innovation are what we hear are needed most. As enrollment management providers, our best work is realized in developing new pathways for students at a time when old pipelines no longer seem to be our strongest ally. Finding new students is our challenge, and we believe that you can be of great help in this area.

Spring 2020 is a strong recruitment season, and we are continually scheduling events in a variety of settings and locations. The truth is that individuals are still being called to ministry, and we believe that our mission to develop Christian women and men for ministry is imperative. It’s what keeps us excited about the work that we do: providing spaces where individuals can meet and share their “call” comfortably. This is a conversation that does not take place easily, and our desire is to create more of these spaces.

The Rev. David Johnson, 2012 Perkins graduate

We invite you to help us think differently about our recruitment practices by partnering with our staff to convene a recruitment event. Here’s how this can work:

  1. Notify me of your interest in convening an “Introduction to Seminary” event at your church, the university where you teach, your undergraduate school, your Sunday school class, the social agency where you work, in your home or any location of your choice in your area.
  2. Our staff will work with you to plan the event and will cover any costs for a reception, lunch or dinner for prospective students attending the event.
  3. Understand that our resources are not unlimited, so decisions will be made where the largest groups of individuals interested in theological studies can convene.
  4. We are open to your ideas.

Here’s just one example of how you might help. The Rev. David Johnson (M.Div. ’12), a member of our Alumni Council, is working with Caleb Palmer, Ministry Discernment Associate, to host a recruitment event at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where Johnson earned his B.A.

“Perkins was a loving and transformative community for my theological education and journey,” Johnson tells me. “As an alumnus, it’s an honor to partner with my school to invite other potential students to come on this powerful pilgrimage I have traveled. We would love for other alumni to join us as we welcome other students to travel the road we have and help them grow in their faith and education.”

Like Johnson, you have connections where we might connect and minister to potential Perkins students. Call us, and let’s work together!

This is a new playing field for us, and we want to engage ourselves with imaginative and adaptive actions that lead to changing the way we do things for the benefit of theological education. We are reimagining the ways in which we can seize any opportunities that will bring individuals to Perkins who have a heart for ministry.

In our work, we are witnesses to the transformative nature of theological education and want to live out the blessing of God’s persistent activity in the world. It is our hope that the challenges we face are addressed with bold decisions, and that we can be energized by them for the benefit of ministry in the world. You can invest in Perkins by partnering with us. We look forward to hearing from you early in 2020.

Blessings to you and yours for 2020!

The Rev. Margot Perez-Greene, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Enrollment Management

Contact me: or 214-768-3332 (please leave a message)

January 2020 News

Office of Development

Did you know that Perkins’ Houston-Galveston program turns 25 in 2020? Here is the story of the program’s origins, from Professor Joseph Allen’s outstanding account, Perkins School of Theology: A Centennial History:

To make seminary education more broadly available in the region, as well as to reverse declining enrollment at Perkins, Dean Robin Lovin began work in the fall of 1994 to establish an extension program in the Houston area. After an exploratory meeting with leaders of the Texas Annual Conference in Houston in January 1995, Lovin was able to announce at the Texas Annual Conference on May 29 that “Perkins South” would offer its first classes in the fall of 1995. The program would enable students to take the initial portions of their work toward Perkins degrees – the master of divinity, master of theological studies and master of religious education – in Houston-Galveston, after which they would complete their degree work at the Dallas campus. Lovin expressed his special thanks to James Moore, pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston, and Charles Millikan, pastor of Moody Memorial United Methodist Church in Galveston, for making their churches’ facilities available and providing financial support for the program. As Millikan observed, “Houston is one of the few major metropolitan areas in the country without a permanent, fully accredited seminary.” (Page 337)

Over the years, many outstanding students, including Bishop Cynthia Harvey, have attended Perkins through the Houston-Galveston program. As noted above, until recently, our theological accrediting body, the Association of Theological Schools, required students to attend classes on the Dallas campus in order to finish their degree programs.

However, that requirement has changed, and Perkins has permission to offer complete degrees in hybrid format at various sites. Students and professors meet at the beginning and the end of the semester face-to-face, with the remainder of each course conducted online. As a result, we have seen a remarkable increase in the number of students who are participating in this program.

Professor Hugo Magallanes, Associate Dean for Academics, who has spearheaded the development of the hybrid program, is enthusiastic about the future of this site. This hybrid format has attracted students from the greater Houston area, as well as others who fly in from Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and other states.

Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country, is a wonderful site for a Perkins education. With many Methodist and nondenominational churches in the area, we expect continued growth. Our close association with Houston Methodist Hospital, where many of the classes are held, is an added bonus. In addition, because Houston has been cited as the most diverse city in America, it affords Perkins an opportunity to reach out to various communities with our outstanding education.

Almost all of the Houston-Galveston students are enrolled full time and receive scholarships similar to the Dallas-based students. Several of our select group of Perkins Scholars are enrolled in Houston-Galveston.

We are always looking for scholarship help for Perkins students in every degree program. We are committed to helping them gain ministry skills in order to shoulder leadership positions in the church and in various capacities in society.

Click here to join in making education more affordable for these students!

With a thankful heart,

John A. Martin
Director of Development

January 2020 News

Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning

Registration is now open for the Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning – formerly the Perkins Theological School for the Laity – which takes place March 26-28 on the Perkins campus at SMU. With the theme “Boundless Learning, Bountiful Living,” the program offers multiple course options and is open to laity as well as clergy.

Headlining the event is a half-day course on Thursday, March 26, taught by Will Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School, on “What’s Ahead for the UMC?” The course will explore how The United Methodist Church arrived at the present moment, what factors led to the 2019 special called General Conference and its aftermath, and what may happen in the upcoming General Conference.

Willimon was invited because the board of laypeople overseeing the event wanted to include a course related to the upcoming General Conference, according to event coordinator Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean for External Programs and Professor of Ministerial Studies. Willimon will also preach for the worship service.

The program took its new name, Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning, in 2019, spurred by a number of factors.

“The word ‘laity’ doesn’t mean anything to younger generations,” Pope-Levison said. “Also, some assumed that ‘laity’ meant the event was only for church leaders, when that wasn’t the intention.”

Pope-Levison noted that, similarly, the former Ministers’ Week was renamed Perkins Fall Convocation a few years ago, to include laypeople as well as clergy.

“The classes offered at the Perkins Summit are great for clergy, too, because there’s so much more to learn than what can be covered in seminary,” Pope-Levison added. “Every course offered will be top-notch in terms of quality, information and application to a robust life of faith.”

Attendees may also opt for a second half-day course on Thursday, “A Boundless God: The Spirit According to the Old Testament,” taught by John R. (Jack) Levison, W. J. A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew, Perkins School of Theology.

All-day courses will be offered on Friday and Saturday, including:

“How to Read the Bible According to the Early Church Fathers” by James Kang Hoon Lee, Associate Professor of the History of Early Christianity and Director, Doctor of Ministry Program, Perkins School of Theology

“Truth Telling in a Post-Truth World” by D. Stephen Long, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics, Perkins School of Theology

“The Emperor’s New Clothes: How Mark’s Ironic Passion Story Reveals God’s Reign,” by O. Wesley Allen, Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics, Perkins School of Theology

“How Do We Solve a Problem Like…Mary?” taught by Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology, Perkins School of Theology

The full schedule for the three-day event is available here.

Registration fees range from $35 to $90 per course, depending on the course length and early or late registration, with discounts for first-time registrants. A limited number of partial, need-based scholarships are available. For more information, contact Priscilla Pope-Levison at Perkins Summit scholarships are funded by the Howard Holbert Endowment fund.

Online registration closes March 19; on-site registration will be available for the classes on the day they are given. Call 214-768-3664 to register by phone with a credit or debit card. Questions about the event may be directed via email to

January 2020 News

Perkins Certification in Spiritual Direction

Some live nearby; others travel from afar. Some work in secular careers; others serve as pastors, chaplains or church leaders. All come with the desire to go deeper and ultimately to help others to do so as well.

The students in Perkins’ Certification in Spiritual Direction program gathered in early December for a weekend class session on the campus of SMU, as part of a three-year, noncredit continuing education course that trains participants in the art of accompanying and guiding others in their spiritual journeys. In August, the program welcomed its 26th cohort, the largest in recent years.

Ruben Habito, who directs the program, attributes the growth in participation, in part, to a concerted effort in early 2019 to build awareness of the program.

“We sent a mass email to churches and others in the Perkins community, to let people know about the program and encourage them to consider how it might enrich their own spiritual well-being,” he said. “There also seems to be a growing thirst among people in the pews for ways of going more deeply, to find more spiritually satisfying avenues beyond the usual worship and church programs.”

Habito adds that word of mouth has helped grow the program, too. Graduates and current students find the program well-designed, helpful and enriching, and they tell their friends.

A growing number of people, too, are simply aware of what spiritual directors do. As the program’s website explains, “Spiritual directors are trained to listen, pray and ask questions in a fashion that encourages directees to look for the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives. 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.”

Each incoming class of students joins a cohort that studies together throughout the three years. The program is designed for graduate students, lay people and clergy, all of whom are represented in the current group of students.

Started in 2010

The 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. 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 spiritual seekers,” Habito said. “Anyone who can understand and appreciate what is offered through the Christian perspective is welcome.”

While most entered with plans to serve as spiritual directors, many participants said the program has been personally nourishing, too. David Taylor, a third-year student, noted an unexpected side benefit: The program has helped him to learn to listen more attentively to his grandchildren. “I am much more patient and able to listen to anyone, anywhere, thanks to this program,” he added.

Dr. Mark Hausfield, a leader in the Assemblies of God denomination and another third-year student, said, “I work with pastors and missionaries. I take care of everyone else. Who’s going to take care of me?” The certification program, he said, serves as a form of self-care that ultimately enables him to serve more effectively.

Habito says that’s a key goal. While the program covers contemplative practices, its ultimate aim is to enrich students’ spiritual lives and their relationships so as to deepen their commitment to live compassionate lives.

“The basis of self-care is the realization you are cared for unconditionally by God,” he said. “With full consciousness of being cared for, beyond anything we can imagine, that allows us to care for others. Spirituality is not something that separates us from our day-to-day, but gives us light for how to live.”

Many participants expressed gratitude for the friendships made through the program. During the opening portion of the December class session, students’ voices broke with emotion as they shared how meaningful these relationships have become.

“I hope you become friends for life,” Habito told the group.


Meet the Soul Shakers

Members of the “Soul Shakers” cohort while at Perkins during the December 2019 class session. Photo by B. Anderson.

Each cohort adopts a nickname; the newest cohort is the “Soul Shakers” and includes 17 participants from a variety of backgrounds. (Two are currently taking a leave of absence, but at 15, the group still ranks among the largest in recent years.)

Robin Linck, a Dallas resident, a Roman Catholic and an accountant, is a student in this newly formed Soul Shakers cohort. After some major life changes, she became interested in meditation and contemplative practice; the certification program seemed like the right next step.

“I’m a person who has lived in my head all my life, and I was very happy there,” she said. “Now I’m learning to live in my heart.”

Another Soul Shaker is Kathleen Kisner, a Perkins alum (M.Div. ’97), wife, mother of two kids and associate pastor of Walnut Street United Methodist Church in Chillicothe, Ohio. Kisner travels to Dallas for the program’s on-campus portion. She wants to prepare to assist parishioners who desire spiritual guidance, and the Perkins program fit her needs.

“Perkins offers one of the few weekend programs, which works for my schedule,” she said.

Dorothy Pierce joined the program after retiring from a career as a schoolteacher and counselor. When she came across information about the Spiritual Direction program, it seemed like exactly what she needed, and she signed up immediately.

“I was at a place in my life where I needed to understand not only my walk but God also,” she said. “I questioned the spirit and my feelings. Even though I am in the church and doing things, I felt I needed a better understanding of Christianity.”

As regional pastor for Methodist Healthcare Ministries in the San Antonio area, Vanessa LeVine’s job involves ministering to people who are caretakers – nurses, counselors and other pastors. LeVine hopes that the program will help her better serve those who are at risk for burnout.

“This was a natural progression for me, to dive deeper into spiritual direction,” she said. “I also appreciate the peer support and the relationships with everyone here. It’s my way of practicing what I preach.”

January 2020 News

Perkins Signs MOU with Bishop Han Theological School

Southern Methodist University, on behalf of Perkins School of Theology, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bishop Han Theological School (BHTS) in Mindanao, Philippines, to promote collaboration and intercultural activities among theology faculty and students from the two institutions.

Beginning in the spring 2020 semester, the two theology schools will allow master’s-level students from each school to enroll in courses in the other school for credit without registering for a degree program in the host school.

“We’re excited about the possibilities this agreement offers for our students to learn in a global context while pursuing a master’s degree at Perkins, as well as to involve students from BHTS in our classrooms,” said Craig C. Hill, Dean of Perkins School of Theology.

Left to right: Dean Hill, President Han, and Dean Estrella

The MOU was signed on December 3 in Kirby Parlor at Perkins. Signing on behalf of Perkins was Dean Hill and for SMU, Peter K. Moore, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, ad interim.

Representatives of BHTS present for the ceremony included the two signatories, Dr. Arnaldo Ladia Estrella, Dean; and Dr. Han Sang Ho, President and Senior Pastor of Jooan Methodist Church in Incheon, South Korea. Also on hand were Dr. Sang Ho’s wife, Mrs. Hwang Young-Ok; the Rev. Lee Chang-Sun, missionary and representative of the Jooan Church at BHTS (who served as translator); and Dr. David Upp, Perkins alum (M.Th. ’80, D.Min. ’91) and professor at Bishop Han Theological Seminary and Conference Missionary from the Great Plains Annual Conference, UMC.

The MOU provides for guest students from either BHTS or Perkins to enroll in courses of the host school, with the advance counsel and approval of the relevant course/program coordinator. Guest students will remain enrolled as regular degree candidates at their home institutions. In addition, faculty exchanges of short duration may be arranged to encourage global collaboration and intercultural instruction.

BHTS and Perkins have collaborated before, as part of the Global Theological Education project, headed by Perkins’ Robert Hunt. Hunt traveled in June 2019 to the campus of Wesleyan College of Manila in the Philippines, where he collaborated with Filipino scholars to record the first batch of classes for online sharing; BHTS Dean Estrella is one of the Virtual Visiting Professors featured on the website as a result.

January 2020 News

Faculty Profile: Susanne Johnson

In order to keep her academic work grounded in the real world, Susanne Johnson heads to the border.

Johnson, a scholar of practical theology, makes regular trips to the Mexico-U.S. border at locations in Texas, Arizona and California, where she listens to the stories of the people as part of her research.

“I believe immigration is one of the defining public issues of our era, and certainly one of the most important themes in Scripture,” she said.

Susanne Johnson helping to prepare an evening meal for migrants and asylum-seekers at the border in Tijuana, Mexico, where she conducts research. The food kitchen is a cooperative ministry of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) (United States), and the Methodist Church of Mexico.

These days, she’s especially energized by her project focused on El Faro Border Church, an ecclesial community that gathers each Sunday afternoon in an open-air plaza at the Tijuana/San Diego border. (A grant from Perkins’ Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religion has helped cover the costs of travel for this ongoing project.)

“What’s unique about El Faro is that parallel fences – militarized by the U.S. – cut through their worship space,” she said. “Thus, each week, there are worshipers on each respective side of the border fence. I’ve spent considerable time on both sides, getting acquainted with people related to the El Faro community and learning about ministry endeavors important to them.”

Her overall focus is on how El Faro members engage with geopolitical realities of the border through their ecclesial and liturgical practices.

“In gathering testimonios, I’ve learned how central the Lord’s Supper is to their self-understanding and their justice-seeking endeavors,” she said. “I am reminded of William Cavanaugh’s contention that communing at the Table transforms partakers into a body with a theopolitical dimension.”

One way members express their theopolitical imagination is through images and murals they paint along many miles of the border fence. It’s street-style popular art, Johnson said; the artists don’t paint in order to make hideous structures somehow look pretty. Instead, the wall serves as a vast canvas for art that critiques injustice and envisions alternatives.

“For example, there’s a big, ugly image of la cicatriz (the scar), which functions liturgically as a visual lament of the scar on the body politic and body of Christ, and on bodies of migrants permanently scarred by the trauma of detention, family separation and deportation,” she said. “Yet there are also many positive, hopeful images.”

The Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies recently published her article about the theopolitical and liturgical significance of the border artists’ work; she plans on doing further pieces on the topic. Through the lens of feminist practical theology, she has also written and published about gendered issues in immigration and structural violence against women and children at the border. This work also informs another writing project – a manuscript about justice-making as a theological means of grace as understood in the Wesleyan tradition.

Susanne Johnson (in black hat, black vest) sharing a Thanksgiving meal with day laborers in Dallas, served on the parking lot of a Conoco gas station. “This was the most meaningful and memorable Thanksgiving I’ve ever had – especially because undocumented migrants entrusted their stories to me, and I felt blessed,” says Susanne.

“I seek to integrate emphases too often split apart, namely, spirituality and social justice – both of which I’ve long been passionate about,” she said. Too often, she added, spiritual formation venues emphasize devotional practices, which Wesley called works of piety, at the expense of Wesley’s equal emphasis on works of mercy and justice-making.

“We need to recover, but critically so, Wesley’s double-emphasis on works of piety, and works of mercy and justice – and, as he did, view them as organically interrelated, mutually corrective and together comprising theological means of grace and Christian formation,” Johnson said.

However, in El Faro Border Church, she sees no such split.

“It makes a great case study for this larger project, because there’s no false split between personal piety and political activism – between ‘soulcraft’ and ‘statecraft,’” she said. “This community at the margins and borderlands has important things to teach the mainstream church in North America.”


Teaching Specialties

Susanne Johnson with Perkins colleagues after a faculty meeting, enjoying their occasional “wear your cowboy hat to the faculty meeting day.”

Practical Theology; Christian Religious Education; Education for Social Justice; Ministry with Children

Research Interests

Christian formation; immigration; faith in public life; social class and intersectional issues; justice-making as a means of grace

Favorite Bible Passages

Isaiah 65:17-25 and Luke 1:46-55. She likes the Isaiah passage for “its vivid metaphors for the justice God intends – namely, access to conditions and resources needed for human flourishing, interdependently with the created order.” Similarly, Mary’s Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55 pictures a young, dark-skinned working-class woman – who soon becomes a refugee fleeing to save her child – singing about a God who sides with the economically poor and upends exploitative systems. “Scripture is extensively concerned with whether or not religious, economic and political ‘powers that be’ serve in ways that help extend justice and blessings to all families and peoples, and I gravitate to texts on this theme,” Johnson said.

Books on Her Nightstand

Subversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination during the First Century, which aims to counter ways this practice, along with baptism, is privatized, spiritualized and sentimentalized by the dominant church in the U.S. Also, Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx by Heidi Neumark, an Episcopal minister. “It’s an older but still timely book, and one of the most imaginative, helpful books in congregational and community leadership I’ve ever read,” Johnson said. “We know that a seminary degree can’t anticipate every possible situation of ministry, and Neumark is an exemplary model of how to improvise and innovate in the face of novel situations. I wish it was required reading for all ministry students.”

Fantasy Dinner Party

Johnson’s table would include a group of what she calls ‘badass’ women:  Shiphrah and Puah, Hebrew midwives who defied Pharaoh; abolitionist Harriet Tubman; Septima Clark, who helped run Citizenship Schools, a key to the civil rights movement; Dorothy Day, who inspired the Catholic Worker Movement; Jane Addams, co-founder of one of the first immigrant settlement houses in the U.S; and Eva Cassidy, a singer of blues and jazz in our era, who died at a young age. Also, “if he’d be willing to be in the midst of these badass women” – she’d add Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for taking part in plans to topple Hitler, and James He Qi, her favorite contemporary artist. Said Johnson, “I’d ask everyone to talk about their source of strength to face adversity, and to resist unjust powers of the Empire – and the role that music and arts can play in all this.”

Favorite Travel Destination

Johnson has visited five of the seven continents, but at the moment, her favorite destination is  El Faro Border Church. She explains, “Both the physical setting and the people there are profoundly inspiring!” 


Photography. “My camera goes everywhere I go, as does my coffee mug!” said Johnson. “Both have been around the world with me. I especially love to shoot outdoor scenes during the brief period just after sundown known as the ‘blue hour,’ during which you can capture brilliant hues of blue in the sky.”

Question She’d Ask at the Pearly Gates 

“If I’m admitted, how soon can I hear Eva Cassidy sing – and can I put in a personal request?”

Personal Spiritual Practices

Johnson does deep-breathing meditation regularly. Frequently, she visualizes herself at the Great Banquet Table – a biblical image that’s spiritually comforting and politically radical. “Here we see that the bereft, the despised, the exploited, the abandoned, have seats of honor,” she said. “We see that those with empty stomachs and unfulfilled yearnings are satisfied.  Sometimes I see myself with dear deceased loved ones and am comforted. But there are times I see myself seated by people I dislike, and am convicted to forgive.”

January 2020 News

Student Spotlight: Cori Clevenger

For Cori Clevenger, her education as a church intern in England began just moments after arriving at the airport in Manchester, U.K.

Clevenger was met by a member of one of the churches she now serves. While helping load her luggage into an elevator, the church member said, “Ay up, Duck!”

“I literally ducked,” said Clevenger. “I didn’t know what that meant. It turns out the people from Derbyshire don’t say ‘Love,’ as many English people do; they say ‘Duck.’ So that was a learning experience.”

It was the first of many ways that Clevenger has been challenged in her nine-month internship in England, made available through a partnership between Perkins and the Methodist church in England.

Clevenger, who expects to complete her M.Div. in May 2020, has been serving since last fall at three churches in the Midlands area of England – Swanwick Methodist Church in Swanwick, Alfreton Wesley Methodist Church in Alfreton and Grassmoor Methodist Church in Grassmoor. At the first two, she’s essentially functioning as a senior pastor; at Grassmoor, she’s more of an associate pastor, assisting with Bible studies and ministry for the impoverished.

She applied for the internship with the encouragement of her church history professor, Ted Campbell, and she’s glad she did.

“Professor Campbell believed in my abilities to handle this internship before I believed in myself,” she said. “Serving in England has not only given me a broader perspective for my ministry, outside of my native context of Texas United Methodism, but also has given me the confidence that I can be an effective minister.”

As to what’s next, Clevenger is currently considering doctoral programs in the U.S. and the U.K., and ultimately hopes to pursue ordination.

Before traveling to England, Clevenger’s on-campus activities included serving as a Residential Community Chaplain to students living in the university commons. Last spring, she was selected to attend The National Workshop on Christian Unity in St. Louis, sponsored by the Council of Bishops Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships.

Clevenger’s academic interests include Moral Theology/Christian Ethics focusing on the dynamics of abuses of power in organizations such as the church, and how to best promote healing when they occur.

“I think it is important to strengthen the relationship between theology and secular psychology; there is a lot of potential for the two disciplines to help each other,” she said. “People struggling with depression and suicide can too easily fall through the cracks in our secular governing system. I hope that academic research will enable the church to better minister to those with mental health issues, both inside and outside the walls of the church in partnership with secular psychologists.”

She’s also an enthusiast of church history. Her paper, “John Wesley Hardin: Preacher’s Kid and Convicted Killer,” was selected last year as the recipient of the Walter Vernon Essay Award. She received a $250 prize and an invitation to present a summary of the paper to the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Texas United Methodist Historical Society.

Hardin (1853-1895) was an American Old West outlaw, gunfighter and controversial folk icon. The son of a Methodist preacher, Hardin got into trouble with the law from an early age. He killed his first man at age 14, he claimed in self-defense. Pursued by lawmen for most of his life, he was sentenced in 1877, at age 24, to 25 years in prison for murder. Hardin claimed to have killed 42 men; however, he was well known for wildly exaggerating or completely making up stories about his life. Within a year of his release in 1894, Hardin was killed by John Selman in an El Paso saloon.

Clevenger’s interest was piqued when she learned that Hardin’s father was a minister in her home church in Liberty, Texas.

When her spirit is restless, Cori creates sketches like this one, relating to her prayer life.

“I had come across Hardin earlier while doing historic research for the church’s 175th anniversary celebration,” she said. “It was a story I knew and was familiar with, but it was never told through a psychological lens. I looked at the relationship between Hardin and his circuit-riding father – how that relationship affected him, and what we can learn from that today when addressing clergy burnout and its effects on our families.”

When she’s not busy shuttling between her three parishes, Clevenger takes time to nurture her own spirit and to stay close to God. She enjoys composing music at the piano and sketching images that relate to her prayer life.

“Whenever I feel anxious, I want to create something beautiful, to remind myself of the One who holds me in the palms of their hands,” she said.

January 2020 News Perspective Online Uncategorized

Internship in England

Internships give M.Div. students at Perkins an opportunity to integrate coursework of Bible, theology and ethics with ministry practice in the real world. Now, Perkins students have the chance to do this in another culture, broadening their understanding of Christian expressions from those found in the U.S., thanks to a partnership between Perkins and the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

Third-year student Cori Clevenger is currently interning in England in a three-point charge in Methodist churches in the Midlands area of England. Her internship is part of a pilot program that organizers hope will become ongoing.

“This is an opportunity for Perkins students to see how Methodism in Great Britain is lived out,” Docampo said. “It’s a chance to get another perspective on the Christian faith and the world, and to critically reflect on these.” Currently, students are being interviewed for one or two potential internships in England in the 2020-2021 school year.

The unique internship evolved from discussions almost two years ago between leaders of Perkins and Cliff College, one of the ministerial training sites for the Methodist Church of Great Britain.  In addition to the UK internship, the resulting partnership between Perkins and Cliff has led to still-emerging global theological education initiatives.

England is a natural for Perkins students, Docampo said, because it’s the birthplace of founder John Wesley and of Methodism.  (The program is separate from Perkins’ partnership with Wesley House, Cambridge in England that provides an international study opportunity for two recent Perkins graduates each year.)

“This program is different from the previous post-Internship program between the Perkins Intern Program and the Methodist Church of Great Britain that ended approximately 16 years ago,” Docampo said.  “In that program, Perkins students who had completed their U.S. based Internship for course credit would be selected for a one-year post-Internship in England and given an appointment at a ministry charge.  In this brand-new program, Perkins is sending students to do their year of internship for course credit in Great Britain instead of the U.S.” Also, in this new program, Cliff College is part of the partnership and that makes it possible for students to take classes in England while also completing their internship.

Just as with internships in the U.S., the intern in England is supervised by a mentor pastor and a lay committee. The Rev. Loraine N. Mellor, chair of the Nottingham & Derby Methodist District, traveled to Perkins in 2019 to prepare for the partnership. She’s sharing mentoring duties with the Rev. Ann Anderson, minister of Grassmoor Methodist Church and Clevenger’s on-site supervisor. (Because Clevenger has a 3-point charge, Mellor functions in a more supervisory role due while juggling other responsibilities, and Anderson offers day-to-day practical and pastoral guidance.)

Mellor says interns can bring a new perspective to parishioners in the churches they serve.

“Students from Perkins give to our congregations a flavor of another culture and they see the Bible come alive through others’ experiences,” she said. “The building of relationships also enables a greater dialogue which allows us to reflect upon what unites us as well as what divides us, that is in theology and practice but also about what it means to be disciple and a follower today. The Perkins interns also bring a different way of worshipping which challenges our presuppositions, and again this creates a place for conversation and dialogue which leads to understanding.”

A lay committee comprised of church members at the churches in England meets with the intern each month to assess them on the goals they have set forth in their Learning Covenant in the areas of leadership, self-awareness and theological reflection on the practice of ministry.

“Technology has helped us quite a bit,” Docampo said. “We have trained the lay teaching committee over Zoom, an online platform for web-based conferencing, and I am able to also conference with Cori and her mentor pastor, Loraine, as needed.”

“We paired Cori with Ann Anderson, an experienced minister, which meant that we could quickly respond to any challenges and anxieties that might occur,” said Mellor. “We believe this is a good model.”

The three congregations that Clevenger is serving this year have each reacted differently to their American pastor.

“One is an elderly congregation that wanted some Bible teaching which they have responded to eagerly and been very appreciative of the way in which she has led this,” Mellor said. “The second congregation includes many professionals who are early retired.” After some initial friction, she said, “Cori has won them around and they very much look forward to her leading worship and joining them on other occasions.” The third church, located in a low-income community, has been open and inclusive. “She has quickly become one of them,” Mellor said.

“Loraine, Ann and the lay committee members have taken their mentoring roles very seriously,” Docampo added. “This is very important, given that I have a student so very far away, and critical to the future of our partnership.”