March 2019 News Perspective Online

Faculty Profile: Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner

When the United States marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020, Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner will be poised to help people at SMU and beyond to celebrate, look back and learn.

She is co-editing a book, Women with 2020 Vision: Theologians on the Vote (1920), Voice, and Vision of Women with Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, 59th Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) denomination and the first woman elected to the position. The book will be published in time to mark the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment on August 18, 1920. Fifteen contributors will each write a chapter.

“I think we need to just pause for a moment, in the cacophony and noise, to celebrate the fact that these women, in spite of their differences, pulled off something so incredible,” she said. “We’re not finished yet. We have a long way to go. We need to keep on in the progress toward equal rights, equal pay and equal acknowledgement. But let’s pause to celebrate.

Stevenson-Moessner is also working to assemble a display of artifacts related to the struggle and eventual passage of suffrage, a display to benefit undergraduate students and others at SMU. In recent years, she has collected items such as original newspaper clippings from the 1860s and 1850s covering the conferences of women who worked to help pass the vote. They include newspaper stories about Sojourner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech and campaign ephemera advocating for and against women’s suffrage.

How did she come to amass this collection of items? “My daughter is very tech savvy,” she said. “She introduced me to eBay.”

Stevenson-Moessner began collecting the items because she was fascinated by the way women of such diverse backgrounds worked together, successfully, toward the common goal of suffrage. She hopes the display will serve as a reminder of the importance of voting.

“Whether the weather is bad or it’s inconvenient to get out, students need to know how hard fought this was,” she said.

In teaching courses in pastoral theology, Stevenson-Moessner has worked to establish connections that help keep the coursework grounded in the broader community beyond the walls of Perkins. She has trained in a rape crisis center, an addictive disease unit, three domestic violence programs, a community mental health clinic and a child abuse council. She was a three-year resident at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta and on the staff of a counseling center. For classes on crisis ministry and sexual and domestic violence, she takes students to train in places such as Genesis Women’s Shelter and the Rape Crisis Center at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

“At the Rape Crisis Center, we go into the unoccupied exam rooms and the students undergo training right there with people who specialize in this area,” she said. Staff from local agencies also come occasionally to the classroom to teach.

Stevenson-Moessner is an ordained Presbyterian minister who stays connected with the Grace Presbytery and attends all the ordination and installation services for Perkins students and recent graduates who are Presbyterian. She is also an active member of The Compassionate Friends, a group for people who have lost a child or a sibling. While it relates to her professional work in pastoral theology, in this case the connection is personal. Her son, David Stevenson Moessner, died in a car accident in January 2015.

“When we went through this shattering experience, the Perkins community rallied around us in a way I could never have imagined,” she said. “Without asking, people showed up to clean our house, put away our Christmas decorations and stocked our fridge. The memorial service filled Perkins Chapel. The entire Seminary Singers choir performed. Former students came back. Colleagues stepped forward and taught my classes. I didn’t even ask. I’ve seen Perkins at its finest.”  

Faculty Profile

Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner

Issues in practical theology, pastoral care of women, crisis ministry, pastoral self-care, family systems theory, adoption

Research Interests

Multicultural issues in pastoral care of women, cross-cultural children and their identity formation, the impact of violence on our culture

Favorite Bible Verse

Luke 10:27, which reads, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ It wasn’t until later in life that I actually heard those last two words. We’re not called to love just two but all three – God, neighbor, self. That realization changed my life. I always try to make sure that those three loves are honored. The hardest is love of self.”

Book on the Nightstand

“I’m almost finished with Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It’s a work of fiction; I picked it up in the airport because it won the Pulitzer. I try to read Pulitzer Prize-winning books to help improve my own writing.”

Fantasy Dinner Party

“First, I’d make sure that someone else does the cooking. I want this to be a meal where I can sit and enjoy it. I would like to invite close members of my family who I’ve lost, who have passed over the thin veil of earth to beyond – which I take as heaven. I would just start the conversation by asking, “How have you been?” Then I’d ask, “What is it really like in heaven? Did you ever worry about me or others you left behind? Do you experience any pain? I have an assumption that there’s no regret; there’s healing.”


Husband Rev. Dr. David Paul Moessner holds the A.A. Bradford Chair in Religion at TCU. Daughter Jean McCarley Stevenson Moessner is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s BFA program and now a jeweler in Dubuque. Son, David Stevenson Moessner, who passed away in 2015.


A Pomeranian named Little Bit.


“I’m a seasoned antique sale-er. I go treasure hunting at garage sales and estate sales around Highland Park every Saturday morning.”

Something About You that Most People Don’t Know

“I’m related to Jack Daniels. My grandmother was his niece.”

Signature Dish

Shrimp Creole

Personal Spiritual Practices

Each morning, she reads a passage from Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickmann. She also attends a deep conditioning exercise class. “It’s very rigorous; the woman who leads it is like a loving drill sergeant,” she said. “The class helps me to keep my body centered. When I was president of the University Senate (2016-17), I had to carry the University Mace at convocations. It was heavy – 26 pounds – and you carry it down a very long hallway. The women in the class were so supportive and helped me train for that.”

March 2019 News Perspective Online

Faculty Update

The Rev. Dr. O. Wesley Allen, Jr., Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Perkins, traveled to Casper, Wyoming, recently as part of a workshop sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming. The 51 lay and ordained attendees exceeded the capacity of the Diocesan office, so the event was moved to another venue, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Attendees included seasoned seminary-trained priests, bi-vocational clergy, licensed lay preachers, students in the Wyoming Iona School and many others interested in improving their preaching.  Allen was one of several instructors there from the Episcopal Preaching Foundation. Read the story here.

March 2019 News Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Update

Wesley House Opportunity

The application deadline has been extended until April 1, 2019, for the Diploma for Theology in Ministry program offered through Perkins School of Theology and Wesley House, Cambridge (England). This unique, international one-year study opportunity is available with scholarship funding for 2019–20 M.Div. graduates and recent Perkins M.Div. alumni/ae. The diploma program offers a “combination of classical theological disciplines taught by world-class academics through the Divinity Faculty of Cambridge University, together with specialist teaching from a confessional perspective delivered by ecumenical partners in Cambridge, in ecumenical classrooms.” For more information, visit our website here.


 No Mercy, No Justice. The Dominant Narrative of America versus the Counter-Narrative of Jesus’ Parables by John Brooks Harrington 

Harrington M.Div. ’94 is an elder in the Central Texas Conference who currently serves as director of the Methodist Justice Ministry, a legal ministry and nonprofit owned by First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth that protects indigent women and children victims of family violence and sexual abuse and provides them financial and pastoral support. Net proceeds of book sales and any speaking honoraria will go directly to the Methodist Justice Ministry. Click here to learn more.


Saints in the Struggle: Church of God in Christ Activists in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement, 1954–1968, by Jonathan Chism

Chism M.Div. ’08 writes about Mason Temple, the headquarters of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), which looms large in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last sermon there during the Sanitation Workers Strike on April 3, 1968. This book highlights the unsung contributions made by local activists from the COGIC in the historic strike and the broader civil rights struggle in Memphis. Click here to learn more.



Called: Hearing and Responding to God’s Voice by Susan Robb

Robb M.Div. ‘06 is Senior Associate Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, where she has been part of the church staff for 17 years. Published by Abingdon Press, the book examines how, throughout the Bible, God interrupts the lives of ordinary men and women, calling and empowering them to lives of service they never could have imagined on their own. A DVD featuring Susan Robb and a comprehensive Leader Guide complete the six-week study. Learn more here.



Retired Bishop Janice Riggle Huie.

In the Media

Retired Bishop Janice Riggle Huie M.Th. ‘73 reflects on resilience in this essay on the Texas Methodist Foundation website. She writes, “I first learned about resilience from my father, a South Texas farmer.” Read the post here.




Alum Award

Congratulations to Cynthia A. Wilson M.S.M. ’86 of Discipleship Ministries for being named a 2019 Women’s History Month Honoree in byFaith magazine! 


Rev. Kelli Williamson (pictured middle) at the Jackson County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office.

Newly Named Chaplain

The Jackson County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office recently announced the addition of its newest team member, the Rev. Kelli Williamson M.Div. ‘08. In this newly created position, Williamson will serve as volunteer chaplain on an on-call basis, as a resource as needed on scene, at death notifications, to support Sheriff’s Office personnel and at community events. Williamson also serves as pastor of First United Methodist Church Edna in Edna, Texas, and as a volunteer firefighter and chaplain for the Jackson County Emergency Services District No. 3 Fire Department.


Amy Spaur presenting at Courageous Leadership Imperative’s Launch 1.0. Photo courtesy of

Pitch Winner

From the Texas Methodist Foundation

Amy Spaur M.Div. ‘14 had one of the winning pitches presented at Courageous Leadership Imperative’s Launch 1.0, a cooperative event with the South Central Jurisdiction Foundations and Bishops designed to create a network for dynamic leaders. She is senior pastor of La Fundición de Cristo/Christ’s Foundry church in Dallas. The Texas Methodist Foundation interviewed her about her pitch: community cooking classes. Learn more about how her pitch idea is becoming a reality, and hear the outcomes she hopes to see here.


Josiah Montgomery travels from Fort Worth to Abilene to serve as organist at Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest. Photo by Greg Jaklewicz.

Pipe Dreams

As many pastors already know, a good organist is hard to find. The number of trained organists is declining, especially as smaller universities downsize their offerings and degrees in music in performance. Josiah Montgomery M.T.S. ‘18 is in high demand and drives from Fort Worth every weekend, sometimes more often, to play the organ at Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene. Read the story in the Abilene Reporter-News here.



Rev. Bruce Weaver B.D. ’47 passed away on February 18, 2019, in his home in Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas, at the age of 97. He was the Perkins Distinguished Alum in 2001 and a leader in the North Texas conference and the global church. Read his UMNS obituary here.





Rev. Robert A. Simpson M.Th. ’53 passed away on February 9, 2019, in his home at the age of 93. He was a member of the North Arkansas Conference who helped to open Camp Tanako and served the Stanford Charge (near Paragould), Rose City. He was also a chaplain for the Veterans Administration in Iowa and Texas. He retired in 1983. A Service of Death and Resurrection was held on February 12 at First UMC Sheridan.



Pastor Albert James Rymph II, 93, passed away on February 16, 2019, at Asbury Park in Newton, Kansas. He earned a Master of Theology degree from Perkins in 1955. During Pastor Rymph’s ministerial career, he served numerous congregations and communities throughout much of central and western Kansas, including First Methodist Church, Copeland; Ebenezer and Green Methodist Churches, near Clay Center; Mount Olivet and Saint Luke Methodist Churches, Wichita; First Methodist Church, Kingman; Trinity United Methodist Church, Russell; First United Methodist Church, El Dorado; First United Methodist Church, Beloit; First United Methodist Church, Dodge City; and First United Methodist Church, Ulysses.