March 2022 News Perspective Online Top Story

Letter from the Dean

In this issue of Perspective, we celebrate the remarkable gift of the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation to encourage the work of the Baptist House of Studies, providing substantial scholarships for students from Baptist and Free Church traditions. Our entire school is lifted by this generosity, not just the Baptist students among us.

This gift, and its hoped-for outcome, prompt reflection on the importance of personal connections that cross denominational lines.

“To know only one thing is to know nothing.” We learn most often, and often most accurately, by the act of comparison. We cannot say that something is our best choice if it is our only choice. We test and refine ideas by bringing them into conversation with other ideas. In so doing, we learn about commonalities as well as differences. By looking beyond ourselves, we become our better selves.

The body of Christ extends far beyond any one denomination, time, or outlook. It is not limited to those with whom we most agree. Cultivating this awareness can keep us from errors perpetuated by a lack of perspective.

Studying church history helps to correct denominational myopia, as does reading a diversity of contemporary sources. The best remedy, however, is personal: direct experience of others different from ourselves. Genuine friendships and lasting fellowship across ecclesial boundaries can grow out of such encounters.

It is a rare town of much size, especially here in Texas, that does not have at least one Baptist and one Methodist church. The chances of their working together for common cause—and not simply competing for congregants—increases exponentially if their leaders came to understand and appreciate each other while still in seminary; that is, before they become isolated within the ecosystem of a single expression of the Christian faith.

The Baptist House of Studies at Perkins exists first for the benefit of Baptist and other Free Church students, providing them support, enrichment, and encouragement. Near equally, it exists for the benefit of Methodists and students of other faith traditions. I say this as a lifelong Methodist who had a lifelong Baptist as a seminary roommate. I would not have had the same quality of education without that formative personal experience, and all of us at Perkins will be the better for this new opportunity.

With profound gratitude to the Baugh Foundation,

Dean Hill


March 2022 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management Update: March 2022

Update on the Financial Literacy Program (FLP) at Perkins

By The Rev. Margot Perez-Greene, PhD
Associate Dean of Enrollment Management

Since 2016, Perkins has had the generous support of the Lilly Endowment, Inc., to implement goals stated in the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers (ECFFM) sustainability grant. The late Rev. Bill Bryan, a Perkins faculty member and alum, was the original grant writer. It has been our privilege to take the baton from him and build upon the vision he had for the financial health of our students. Jean Nixon served as Financial Literacy Coordinator until her departure in December of 2019. Christina Rhodes assumed the role in October 2019.

Funding for the grant year will conclude on December 31, 2022. Personnel changes, the reorganization in the Office of Enrollment Management (2017), and most recently the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020) have required two extension requests, which were approved. We have a plan for sustainability and are grateful for the support of the Perkins community, collaborators from other schools at SMU, executive board members who have shared their financial expertise with our students, and to the remarkable creativity of Jean and Christina. Sustainability would not be possible without their commitment to this program.

The ECFFM goal is to create a cultural shift from quiet shame and embarrassment toward an informed reality and empowered position concerning financial health and well-being. To help us keep focused on the goal during the pandemic, we set eight objectives in the Fall 2020 school year:

  1. Develop a worship service aligned with financial health (on-zoom),
  2. Maintain the financial literacy website,
  3. Enhance and continue the bi-monthly financial literacy newsletter,
  4. Provide scriptural texts for the weekly electronic news board,
  5. Increase visibility of the Financial Literacy Program (FLP) in recruitment activities,
  6. Convene a financial literacy book club,
  7. Be visible to alumni through the Online Perspective Magazine, and
  8. Engage the coordinator in financial literacy professional development.

Also in the fall of 2020, we developed a survey for new students to identify areas where more education was needed, including these areas:

  1. Tax questions about salary and housing for pastors
  2. Loans and budgeting
  3. Basic principles leading to financial freedom
  4. Budgeting in a volatile church climate
  5. Saving money.

These student testimonials demonstrate the great needs this important program helps address:

“The Saving Grace book study at Perkins offered (through its Financial Literacy Program) was a great way to start my first year at seminary. It helped me be intentional about my spending and renewed in the areas of commitments I had made in tithing and giving.”

“My greatest struggle was finances. Perkins was compassionate, willing to educate me and brainstorm together with me where I could find resources.”

We will continue to monitor and adjust our activities for the 2023 academic year so that we are relevant and meeting the needs of our students. Thank you for all the support as we look ahead for continuity of this initiative!


Christina and Margot

March 2022 News Perspective Online

Foundation Grant

Perkins’ Baptist House of Studies has been awarded a $2.7 million three-year grant from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation, a Texas-based foundation committed to supporting the work of faith-based, nonprofit organizations. The grant will fund approximately 10 full-time Baptist students—enrolled in Perkins Masters, Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Pastoral Music degree programs—as BaughScholars.  In addition to covering full tuition and fees, the fund will provide emergency aid for students enrolled in the program.

Founded in 2019, the Perkins Baptist House of Studies fosters community for ministerial students, faculty, and staff who identify with the Baptist and Free Church traditions. It is a spiritual, rather than a physical, house that especially supports and encourages students as they pursue their academic and ecclesial training in an ecumenical and university-based seminary.

March 2022 News Perspective Online

Perkins Development Office Gears Up for Key Fundraising Events

Perkins’ Development Office is gearing up for two key fundraising events taking place in March: the Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon on March 17 and SMU Giving Day on March 22.

Bolin Family Perkins Scholarship Luncheon: March 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMU Giving Day: March 22

Perkins alumni/ae and supporters will also have the chance to participate in SMU Giving Day on March 22.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on SMU Giving Day, visit

March 2022 News Perspective Online

Q&A with Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning Keynote Speaker Angela Gorrell

After a series of losses, Dr. Angela Williams Gorrell discovered true joy in an unexpected place: a Bible study for a group of incarcerated women.

Gorrell, the author of The Gravity of Joy: A Story of Being Lost and Found, will share her insights in the keynote lecture at the upcoming Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning, March 25-26 at the Dallas campus of Perkins.  She will also teach two half-day courses during the event.

Gorrell joined Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary in 2019 as assistant professor of Practical Theology. Previously, she was an associate research scholar at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, working on the Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project, and a lecturer in Divinity and Humanities at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Gorrell previewed her program in a conversation with Perkins Perspective; here are excerpts.

Q. How do you define resilient joy?

Gorrell: Joy is modifiable in a way that very few other emotions are. There’s healing joy, exuberant joy, sobering joy. Resilient joy is an act of resistance against despair. It’s the decision to rejoice, to look for things that are meaningful, truthful, beautiful and good in the world and to choose to rejoice over them.

Q. What does it mean to cultivate communities of resilient joy?

Gorrell: It’s about helping communities to realize why joy is a worthy thing to look for and be open to.  I hesitate to use the word “work,” by the way. I don’t want joy to be about trying harder.  Joy is about opening your hands, opening your hearts, opening your eyes and mind to what is around you. It’s important for communities to become open to and look for meaning, truth, goodness, beauty, and connection with others, because these are the things that make life worth living

Q. Are there ways that communities might discourage or hinder that joy?

Gorrell: The obstacles to joy are anger and fear, entitlement, or the idea of “more” or “better.” If a community is nurturing those, that community is obstructing joy. Christian communities don’t tend to nurture emotions like anger or fear, but they also don’t help people to work through those feelings in constructive ways. They usually don’t help people to constructively work through their anger, or to help people to think about where God is in their fear, or to help people to think about why the idea of “better” or “more” gets in the way of their contentment.

Q. Many institutions, including churches, tend to subtly tell people, “Don’t have feelings like anger or fear. Just push them away.” That’s not helpful.

Gorrell: Every feeling is a teacher. There’s wisdom there if you’ll unearth it. If you’re angry, your body is signaling to you that something is wrong. Something’s off. Something needs to be made right. If you’re fearful, your body is signaling to you that you can’t be yourself. You can’t trust people around you. You’re feeling unsafe. Your body is teaching you something.

Oftentimes, in Christian communities, we don’t see feelings as teachers. Instead, we tend to say, “Just stop being angry. You need to let that go.” Instead of saying, “What’s happening here?” For people to feel emotions, whether it’s anger, fear, joy, or anything else, they need permission from other people and from themselves. Christian communities can be spaces where people have permission to feel.

Q. What does a community of resilient joy look like?

Gorrell: Communities of resilient joy are spaces without shame. They are places where people are seen and heard, where they participate fully. They are not places where just one person talks all the time; there’s a dynamic, participatory nature. Everyone has a voice, everyone participates, and everyone has a place. They are places of belonging. Finally, communities of resilient joy are regularly engaged in gateways to joy — habits that become ways of posturing for joy, such as hope, lament, gratitude and truth telling.

Q. Can you share an example of a community of resilient joy, and what that looked like?

Gorrell: In 2016, eight months into a job at Yale university working on The Theology of Joy Project, I lost three family members in the space of four weeks. One to suicide at age 30, a nephew who died of sudden cardiac arrest at age 22, and five days later, my dad died of organ failure due to opioid use. I spoke at all three of their funerals. I found myself back at Yale, trying to study joy, and thinking, “Wow, this is really shallow work in a world that’s suffering.”   For more than a year, I really struggled to find my work relevant in a world that was suffering.

Then, at the invitation from someone at church, I became a volunteer chaplain at a women’s prison.

For a year, almost every Wednesday night, I met with these women. Some were on suicide watch. Most were in prison for substance use related issues.  In that room in the prison, I began to see what joy was. My book, The Gravity of Joy, is the story of how being part of that community of resilient joy recovered my faith. In that room, there was no shame. These women humanized one another. There was lament, there was hope, there was rejoicing. There was a search for meaning. There was an honesty about anger, about fear. It changed my whole life.

One night we were singing “This Little Light of Mine” really passionately. Normally, the lyrics are, “This little light of mine/I’m going to let it shine.” That night, somebody added, “All up in this place, I’m going to let it shine.” We started to make up our own lines. The more that we did this, the freer we got with the song. One night we were literally dancing. Everyone was jumping up and down and singing loudly and clapping. One of the women used the window seal as a drum, to create a rhythm line.   There were tears and laughing. It was so loud that one of the corrections officers came into the room. I got nervous because sometimes the corrections officers would shut the meeting down for any number of reasons. Instead, she started joining us, clapping and singing. When we finished, she said, “Wow! There is some joy in this room tonight!”

To me, that moment represents how, even in the midst of really difficult circumstances — of confinement, of dehumanization, of pain — even in the midst of all of that, somehow people can rejoice together. Freedom can happen, against the odds.

March 2022 News Perspective Online

Video Message from the Dean

In this video message, Craig Hill, Dean of Perkins School of Theology, discusses the importance of developing deep Christian character as part of a seminary education. A student might graduate at the top of their class, he says, but still fail in ministry for lack of character. By interacting with fellow students and professors from different Christian traditions, learn to disagree and dialogue respectfully.  That’s good preparation. “Sooner or later will end up in a ministry setting in which not everyone loves you,” Hill said. “What are you going to do then?” This is the third in Dean Hill’s four-part video series looking at the four elements of an excellent theological education that prepare students for ministry: knowledge, skills, character and faith.

March 2022 News

Student Spotlight: Laura Byrd

The story of Laura Byrd’s calling begins with the kind of unexpected and crushing loss that would lead some to question their faith. In Byrd’s case, however, that loss ultimately brought her to Perkins, where’s she’s now a third year M.Div. student.

In 2016, she and her husband James “J.R.” Byrd were both hired, together, at First United Methodist Church of Denton, as Co-Worship Leaders for the congregation’s Mosaic Worship.

“This had been our dream – to serve together as co-worship leaders,” Laura said. “We were so excited to build a new worship service, at a church that was open to some fun and eclectic music, with some people who were ready to build.”

Two weeks later, J.R. was diagnosed with advanced Stage 4 colon cancer. Laura prayed desperately for a miracle. It never came. Eleven months later, J.R. passed away at the age of 35.  More than 400 gathered at the church to celebrate his life.

“The whole community was shocked,” Byrd said. “It was definitely not what anyone expected.”

In the days that followed, her church surrounded her with love and support.

“After J.R.’s death, I didn’t really know how to function,” she said. “But I was lucky enough to have a community of people — a church that did what the church says it’s supposed to do: love on those who need it the most.”

Slowly, she began to get back on her feet. A Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11, kept her hopeful: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (NRSV) Jeremiah, she said, was encouraging people to plant, build and live despite grief and loss, even when the future was unclear. (She shared the importance of the passage in an April 2021 online sermon; watch it here.)

“I repeated that to myself, especially during the first year,” she said. “I was trying to affirm and trust that there was a plan for my life.  It helped me keep moving forward, one step at a time.

As she continued her work at the church, the church’s pastors, the Rev. Don Lee and the Rev. Jonathan Perry, suggested she might be called to ministry. She began seeking guidance from the spirit.

“Sometimes crises or tragedies force us to go deeper. I had had an existential crisis. I realized what a gift life was. I wanted to have a purpose-filled life. That led me on a path to become ordained.”

A year after J.R.’s death, she decided to return to Perkins to pursue an M.Div. It’s a return because Byrd had already earned an M.S.M. at Perkins in 2010, as well as a master’s of choral conducting at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

“For me, Perkins was always home,” she said.

In June, she will be commissioned as a provisional elder in the North Texas conference of the United Methodist Church. In the immediate future, Byrd hopes to have a pastoral appointment in the North Texas conference. Ultimately, she’d love to work in a new and innovative form of outreach. Inspired by John Wesley — whose ministry was largely outside of the institutional church – she wants to find ways to “draw the circle wider” to include people who don’t necessarily identify as United Methodist or even Christian.

“I feel a distinct calling to do something a little new, a tad radical, to reach people who may consider themselves agnostic,” she said. “A lot of my dear friends are agnostic but extremely spiritual. They have disregarded the church or felt like it wasn’t relevant in their lives in some way, but they are deeply spiritual people that we’re not reaching.  I have a heart to go where they are to figure out how we can become part of their spiritual lives and speak to them in an authentic way.”

As she juggles her studies while continuing to serve at FUMC of Denton, spiritual practices help Byrd cope. About three times a week, she goes for a run then stops to meditate under a tree while watching the sun set. “That’s my practice,” she said. “It gets the endorphins going and feel that breath moving through and being connected. It grounds me.”

Byrd writes at She spends time with her three chihuahuas — Giraffe, Duncan and Batman – whom she adopted with J.R. when he was alive.  She’s also intentional about rest. “Rest is part of creation,” she said. “We always forget that part. It’s important to take a sabbath. Rest is redemptive.”

Grief remains a companion, but she’s hopeful about her future.

“It’s one step at a time,” she said. “There isn’t a magic formula. Some days you stand still or step back. It’s not a straight line.”

March 2022 News Perspective Online

Alumnus Profile: Zach Light-Wells

A serendipitous stroll on campus led Zach Light-Wells to Perkins’ M.S.M. program. In retrospect, he landed exactly where he needed to be.

In 2016, Light-Wells had recently moved to Dallas to serve as associate director of music at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. At the time, he was just beginning to consider furthering his education. On a whim, he came to the SMU campus and walked around. In front of the Kirby Building, he met Dr. Bill Bryan, then associate dean of student life at Perkins, and struck up a conversation. He told Bryan he was considering pursuing an M.S.M.

“Bill took me straight downstairs to meet Dr. Hawn and Chris Anderson,” he said, referring to two members of the M.S.M. program faculty. “The three of us ended up getting coffee together, and that was it. I applied right after that.”

Perkins immediately made sense. His wife, Jesse Light-Wells, had just completed her degree at Austin Seminary, so he knew he wanted a theological education, but he also to continue his education in music.

“To find a program where you could do both was great,” Light-Wells said. “When you think about it, only a few other schools in this country can offer both a seminary and a school of music.”

Light-Wells completed his M.S.M. in 2019 with an emphasis in Choral Conducting from Perkins School of Theology and the Division of Music of Meadows School of the Arts. Today, he’s Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Dallas. Working with the pastoral staff, he plans each week’s worship services, directs the choir, and sometimes pitches in on vocals or on one of the many instruments he plays: the guitar, banjo, piano, mandolin, upright bass, among others.

Light-Wells says his Perkins education has helped him travel confidently in two worlds. In his current position, he’s involved in traditional worship services as well as a new worshipping community at FPC called Wood Street Worship.

“There’s this binary thinking in the church music world of mainline denominations,” he said. “You’re either a ‘band person,’ which means there’s often no place for you as a full-time music director.  Or you are a ‘traditional person’ – you direct the choir and you don’t have the experience to lead a band. Because of my experience, I’m able to do both of those things well. It’s exciting because I believe that is the way forward for a lot of mainline churches.  The M.S.M. program allows students to have one foot in both worlds and to excel in both.”

Zach-Wells still gets back to campus often. His wife Jessie is an ordained Presbyterian PC (USA) minister and director of UKirk, the PC (USA) campus ministry at SMU. They have both led worship at UKirk and at Perkins chapel, with Zach providing the music and Jessie preaching and leading liturgy.

Working with both contemporary and traditional music allows Light-Wells to explore his varied musical interests. He grew up in South Carolina and often blends the sounds of his Appalachian mountain roots with traditional hymns, familiar melodies, and modern folk music.

“I tend to select music that incorporates a wide variety of sounds and backgrounds,” he said. “In the Presbyterian church, we have a fantastic hymnal that came out relatively recently that holds a wide variety of music together. Also, Presbyterians historically are from Scotland and inherited a lot of Scotch/Irish and Welsh melodies, which tend to be accessible and singable, and which ended up being a part of the American Presbyterian vernacular.”

Light-Wells often recalls his M.S.M. coursework, drawing on a concept taught by Chris Anderson, Associate Professor of Sacred Music, and C. Michael Hawn, now University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music. The “God and Neighbor Axis” encourages worship and music directors to select pieces that reflect the command to “love god with all your heart but also love your neighbors.”

“If you’re planning music that is solely focused on honoring God, then you’re not necessarily considering ways to honor, love, and connect with your neighbors in the music-making,” he said. “It’s thinking vertically and horizontally about worship.”

Light-Wells particularly appreciates the respect and support of his professors, including Anderson; Marcell Steuernagel, now Director of the M.S.M. program; and Dr. Pamela Elrod Huffman, Associate Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities at Meadows. He’s still in touch with all three and has collaborated with them on various projects since graduation.

“When I enrolled, I didn’t expect to be so close with my M.S.M. professors,” he said. “It was a huge gift to me, and it still is. They treated me like a colleague.”

He also cherishes the relationships he developed while at Perkins with his cohort of M.S.M. students.

My cohort had three Presbyterians PC (USA) including myself, a Baptist, Catholic, and a student in a charismatic nondenominational church, plus Marcell and Chris had Lutheran backgrounds,” he said. “Being able to be in that space with people from such a variety of different backgrounds was fantastic. We learned from each other.”

March 2022 News Perspective Online

Faculty Updates: March 2022

Spring Lecture

Dr. Sze-kar Wan will present the 2022 Spring Lecture at The Paul C. Hiebert Center for World Christianity and Global Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School at Trinity International University (TIU) in Deerfield, Ill. The lecture, “God or Political Power? Hong Kong and Chinese Christians in Dialogue with American Evangelicals,” will be presented Tuesday, March 15 at 3 p.m. on the campus of TIU. Wan, professor of New Testament at Perkins, will examine how Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese Protestants wrestle with Romans 13 and issues related to church and state, and how their hermeneutics might generate a constructive dialogue with American Evangelicals. The mission of the Hiebert Center is to promote strategic collaboration between North American and Majority World Christians for the advancement of the gospel.

Black History Month Speaker

Tamara Lewis was the kickoff speaker at Pepperdine University’s Black History Month Speaker Series, sponsored by the Center for Global Partnerships and Learning in association with the Graduate School of Education and Psychology.  Lewis delivered the keynote for the virtual Zoom event on Feb. 4, speaking on, “‘WHAT SAY WE NOW?’ Critical Race Theory, Black History and the American Legacy of Church and State.”


Tribute Video

The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence has produced a video tribute to the Rev. Dr. Henry Mitchell. Mitchell passed away January 15 at the age of 102. He was the eldest member of the guild of homileticians, scholars who research, write about, and teach preaching.  The son and grandson of preachers, Mitchell was educated at Lincoln University, Union School of Theology, California State University, and Claremont School of Theology. After distinguished contributions to both academy and church, in 1970 he turned his considerable talents in the direction of preaching, a field which was dominated by white scholars. In that year he published his groundbreaking book Black Preaching, in which he traced the history of Black preaching from the griot of Africa to the slave preachers to modern day. He highlighted the essence and genius of Black preaching as celebration, specifically of the Sovereignty of God over against the persecutions and sufferings wrought on the Black church through the centuries. From there he went on to publish multiple books and mentor many scholars through whom his influence lives on. Much of his lecturing, preaching, and writing was done in partnership with his beloved, gifted wife Ella. The video honoring Dr. Mitchell, consisting of tributes from 21 colleagues and former students, can be found here.

Paula Dobbs-Wiggins Honored

Paula Dobbs-Wiggins, M.D., was recently awarded the Pamela Blumenthal Memorial Award as part of the 2022 PRISM Awards, presented by Mental Health America of Greater Dallas. Dobbs-Wiggins, M.D., serves as Chairwoman of Parkland Health & Hospital System Board of Managers. She is a board-certified psychiatrist in private practice and Adjunct Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Care at Perkins.

According to a press release, Dobbs-Wiggins “has worked to increase dialogue and collaboration between mental health and religious professionals to promote greater understanding of mental illnesses and decrease stigma that often results in people not availing themselves of effective treatment.”  The PRISM Awards honor those who have made a lasting impact in the community on behalf of individuals with mental illness and have worked to improve awareness of mental health issues. The recipients will receive their awards at an in-person evening reception on March 24.

Preaching and Humor

Alyce M. McKenzie, Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship, was recently interviewed by freelance writer Judith Valente for an article on humor and faith. The story will appear in the May Issue of U.S. Catholic and will be available online in April.

March 2022 News Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Updates: March 2022

Perkins Represents at Presbyterian Installation

Perkins was well represented, with four alumnae and a faculty member present at the January installation of the Rev. Cara Ellis (M.Div. ‘14) as the new associate pastor of family ministry at Grace Presbyterian Church of Plano.

Pictured are (front row, left to right): Cindy Miller, Moderator of Committee on Ministry for Grace Presbytery and Ruling Elder (an ordained lay position) at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Corsicana; the Rev. Ellis; the Rev. Amy Moore, (M.Div. ‘14), Spiritual Director; the Rev. Dr. Tracy Davenport, Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, Plano.

Middle Row: Brian Parker, Ruling Elder at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church, Irving; the Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, (M.Div. ’11, D.Min. ‘18), Director and Co-founder of Retreat House, Richardson; the Rev. Laura Fitzgibbon (M.Div. ‘07), Interim Pastor of The Nor’kirk Presbyterian; the Rev. Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology at Perkins.

Top Row: David Hurwich, Ruling Elder at Grace Presbyterian Church of Plano; the Rev. Jim Hawthorne, honorably retired former Interim Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church of Plano.

Lisa Hancock Authors Lenten Devotional

Lisa Hancock (M.S.M. ’13, M.T.S. ’15, Ph.D. ’21) has published a Lenten Sermon Guide and Toolkit, “Naming Trauma and Practicing Resilient Love,” in partnership with the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund.  The seven-week Lenten series is centered on the trauma experienced from economic hardship, relational wounds, environmental insecurity, and communal divisiveness. Included are resources on understanding trauma and connecting others to behavioral health services in Kansas and Nebraska. “I hope this can be a resource that cultivates compassion, healing and resilience in our churches and communities as we draw closer to God,” Hancock said in a social media post. Download the Sermon Guide and Toolkit here.

Josiah Montgomery at North Central College

The Rev. D. Josiah Montgomery (M.T.S., 2018) joined North Central College as the new assistant director of faith and action on January 24. Previously he served as lead pastor at East Side United Methodist Church (formerly 1st EUB of Chicago) in south Chicago and as assistant conductor for the Chatham Choral Ensemble of Chicago. Prior positions included Organist, ad interim, at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Texas; organist pro-tempore, at First Baptist Church of Abilene; organist and associate music director at First United Methodist Church of La Grange, Illinois; and associate college organist at Elmhurst College (now Elmhurst University).

Obit: The Rev. Dr. Norman Bouffard

The Rev. Dr. Norman Bouffard (M.Th. ’64 and M.S.T. ‘71) passed away December 23 at the age of 82 in Georgetown, Texas. While in active ministry, he served several churches in the North Texas Conference, but for much of his ministry he was a licensed psychologist serving as a marriage and family therapist and pastoral counselor. He retired from the Pastoral Counseling and Education Center in Dallas in 2004. Memorial services were held February 19 at Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch.