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Latest News from Bridwell Library

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, November – December 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Fall 2021

The thirteenth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; a story about the newly renamed Center for Methodist Studies at Bridwell Library; a tribute to Ian Tyson; a staff profile; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Fall 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, August – October 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Summer 2021

The twelfth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; reports on the library’s reopening, the Dante Festival and the arrival of a new major collection; upcoming online exhibitions; a staff spotlight; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Summer 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, April – July 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Spring 2021

The eleventh issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Spring 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, January – March 2021

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Winter 2021

The tenth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; recent acquisitions and winter gifts to Bridwell; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Winter 2021 Issue of The Bridwell Quarterly.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, July – December 2020

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Fall 2020

The eighth and ninth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Summer / Fall 2020 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quarterly – Spring 2020

The seventh issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Spring 2020 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, February – April 2020

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Winter 2020

The sixth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Winter 2020 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, November – December 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Fall 2019

The fifth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, reflecting on the past few months; passages and experiences of staff; updates on the library’s renovations; upcoming online exhibitions; and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Fall 2019 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, September – October 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, May – August 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Summer 2019

The fourth issue of The Bridwell Quarterly completes the first annual cycle of publishing, and includes a note from Bridwell Library Director, Anthony Elia, passages and experiences of staff, a reflection on the library’s current state of change, and many more topics we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click to read the Summer 2019 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – Latest Note, March & April 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Spring 2019

The third issue of The Bridwell Quarterly features a range of activities and events, not least of which is an old (though now discontinued) tradition, which former Bridwell staff member Charles Baker writes about: Savonarolafest.

Click to read the Spring 2019 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Library – May 2019

The Word Embodied

This fine press catalog, limited to two hundred copies, was designed and printed by Bradley Hutchinson at his letterpress printing office in Austin Texas. Reflecting the style of many of the items featured in the exhibition, the catalog comprises loose folios and sheets housed in a four-flap paper portfolio. The type is Espinosa Nova, designed by Cristóbal Henestrosa and based on the types of Antonio de Espinosa, the first typecutter in the New World, who was active in Mexico City between 1551 and 1576. The paper is Mohawk Superfine and the illustrations were printed by Capital Printing of Austin, Texas. The portfolio was constructed by Santiago Elrod. Images were prepared by Rebecca Howdeshell, Bridwell Library, using an i2S SupraScan Quartz A1 book scanner. 100 pages, folios housed in paper wrappers; color illustrations; 28 x 21 cm. Please visit to purchase your copy.

  • Arvid Nelsen, Curator and Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian

All of Bridwell Library’s publications, including past issues of the Bridwell Quill and Bridwell Quarterly can be found here:

Bridwell Quill – Spring 2019

Read the update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Library – February 2019

Bridwell Library announces an exhibition of some of the earliest and most important publications printed in Greek, which runs through May 20, 2019. The selection offers a glimpse into the richness and significance of materials accessible for study and appreciation at Bridwell Library Special Collections. For more information, visit our website.

From the January 2019 Issue of Perspective Online

Bridwell Quill – January 2019

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

Bridwell Quarterly – Winter 2018

The second issue of The Bridwell Quarterly explores hidden aspects of the library’s collections, plus some remarkable encounters with people who have visited the library in recent months.

Click to read the Winter 2018 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

From the December 2018 Issue of Perspective Online

Bridwell Quill – December 2018

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.


From the November 2018 Issue of Perspective Online

Introducing Bridwell Quarterly, a new seasonal publication from Bridwell Library.

“In these pages and those of future publications, we hope to speak as a fellowship of colleagues, who support our patrons, neighbors, and friends. We welcome you all to Bridwell Library and hope that you will enjoy reading about the many events, projects, and activities that are happening in our community.” – Anthony Elia, Bridwell Library Director 

Click to read the Fall 2018 Issue of the Bridwell Quarterly

Bridwell Quill – November 2018

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.


From the October 2018 Issue of Perspective Online

Perkins Names Anthony Elia New Director of Bridwell Library

Anthony Elia has been named J.S. Bridwell Foundation Endowed Librarian and Director of Bridwell Library at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, effective June 1. He succeeds retiring Director Roberta Schaafsma, who served in that role since April 2007. Read the full release here.

Bridwell Quill – October 2018

Read the monthly update from Bridwell Library Director Anthony Elia.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

A Message from Dean Hill: May 2020

This pandemic season has much to teach us, Dean Craig C. Hill shares in his monthly message. The news is full of stories of heroes, from bus drivers to medical personnel who brave the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Times like this remind us, Dean Hill says, that “The real heroes among us have always been servants.”

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Office of Enrollment Management: Houston-Galveston Virtual Experience

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

As recruiters and admission personnel, “shelter-in-place” caused us to swiftly rethink outreach to prospective students. The March 26 Inside Perkins, originally planned as an on-campus event, immediately took on a Zoom meeting format. Two more Zoom meetings followed in April. Prospects from all over the globe joined in during these three sessions, from New York, Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Nigeria, Angola, Mexico and Zimbabwe. The meetings have been engaging and have allowed, as you can see, individuals from near and far to participate.

Our Ministry Discernment Associates have been busy at work on the Houston-Galveston Virtual Experience for Thursday, May 7, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. In planning this event, our newest Associate, Samantha “Sam” Stewart observed:

Samantha Stewart

I recently spoke with a prospective student who said that he feels there is no better time than right now to go back to school, with the uncertainty of the world and having a more relaxed schedule with work. I loved his perspective on taking this time to seize an opportunity. I also recently spoke with a prospective student who just applied to our Houston-Galveston program, and her enthusiasm was infectious. She has mentors and friends who are currently enrolled in the program and excelling in it. This pushed her to apply and begin her journey with us at Perkins.

Sam Stewart will co-host this event along with Caleb Palmer. The two are putting their heads together to provide participants a worthwhile virtual experience. Said Caleb:

Caleb Palmer

Connection with prospective students needs a different approach in this strange and difficult time. So we decided to re-imagine what it would look like for a student to interact with Perkins and, more specifically, the Houston-Galveston Hybrid Extension Program. Providing prospective students with the opportunity to hear not only from staff and faculty but from the experiences of current students is the type of engagement that can draw us closer into community than ever before. It is our hope that those who join us walk away from the experience with more than just knowledge of the program but with a sense of connection to SMU Perkins.

Individuals attending the Houston-Galveston Virtual Experience on May 7 will virtually meet our Office of Enrollment staff; hear from the director of the program, Hugo Magallanes; meet one of the faculty, Dallas Gingles; interact with current students; and hear a very special message from Dean Craig Hill. More than 20 registrations have already been received, and we’re excited to learn from where in the world they are Zooming in.

Join us! Click here to register.

For more information about the session, please contact Stephen Bagby, director of Recruitment and Admission, And, please share this information with anyone who is looking to complete the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Ministry in a hybrid format program. The best news: Relocation is not required. Attending classes in Houston-Galveston at the start and end of the semester is the only time for face-to-face instruction. Classes are held in Houston Methodist Hospital, located in the world’s largest medical center, Texas Medical Center in downtown Houston.

Grace to you and yours in this very challenging time, loaded with opportunity!

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

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Office of Development Update: A Call to Action

Our world has been turned upside down. Little did we know, when the school year began, that the biggest change in the history of American higher education would take place during the second semester. One hundred percent of university students in the United States are now completing their studies online!

No one knows which changes will be transitory and which will be long-lasting.

What we do know is that “people are still being called to ministry,” as Margot Perez-Greene, Associate Dean for Enrollment Management, says. But she adds, “Financial aid is the greatest determining factor as to whether a student can or cannot enroll at Perkins.”

It is hardly surprising that financial aid is the key. Many prospective students explain that, after accruing debt in undergraduate studies, the prospect of significantly adding to that load in order to then go into ministry (hardly a lucrative career) feels daunting. Recently, a potential applicant with great academic and leadership qualifications was reluctant to apply to Perkins because of the stress and difficulties he has endured due to accumulated undergraduate debt. Insufficient financial aid is keeping some well-qualified people out of ministry!

Nevertheless, God is still calling people to ministry, in the church and through other avenues of service. Our task is to find partners who will help them acquire the training and skills necessary to fulfill their calling.

Of course, this year is … unique. I have never seen anything like this in my many years in higher education. Two great impediments face students who are contemplating seminary:

  • Never have we experienced clearing out campuses and teaching a semester completely by distance learning. Students who are making final decisions about whether or not to attend seminary are now faced with new doubts and difficulties brought on by COVID-19. The pandemic has cut into employment, family responsibilities and educational efforts in many ways.
  • The pending schism in the United Methodist Church also makes attending seminary problematic. The UMC General Conference originally scheduled for May 2020 has been postponed, creating even more doubt and apprehension in prospective students’ minds. What will the Methodist Church look like in a year? And how will they fit in?

Financial aid in the face of unsettled times is essential. Current and future students of Perkins need your help. Every dollar counts!

Would you join in supporting Perkins? Let me suggest that both the “SMU Fund for Perkins,” the Dean’s discretionary fund and “Student Financial Aid” are our highest priorities. Both of those funds can be found on the Perkins giving page. Please take a minute right now to click on to make sure that qualified students can come to Perkins and complete their studies. A gift of any amount is important and appreciated.

John A. Martin
Director of Development

May 2020 News Perspective Online

A Look Back: Perkins is No Stranger to Hard Times

By Sam Hodges

When future histories of Perkins School of Theology are written, they will need a chapter at least on the current period, with its daunting challenges.

For weeks, the Perkins campus, with the rest of Southern Methodist University, has been closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All classes have gone online – an unprecedented undertaking. Commencement was postponed until August, with no date certain for the campus reopening.

Meanwhile, economists forecast a major recession for the U.S. owing to so many shut down or reduced businesses. If the recession comes, it will do so as The United Methodist Church faces the likelihood of a breakup and sharply reduced spending – including aid to Perkins and other United Methodist seminaries.

The clouds are mounting, but solace might be taken from the already published histories of Perkins. They show the school has faced and overcome challenges from its inception.

Indeed, Perkins School of Theology: A Centennial History, written by emeritus professor Joseph L. Allen, has a chapter titled “Years of Struggle.” A sub-chapter carries the headline “Crisis after Crisis.”

The School of Theology opened with Southern Methodist University in 1915, a joyous occasion for those who strived to add a major Methodist college and pastor-training school west of the Mississippi River.

The 1919 edition of the SMU Yearbook, Rotunda, featured photos and obits for the students lost to the Spanish flu epidemic and World War I. Click image to enlarge.

But in less than three years, the U.S. had entered World War I.

“The effects of the war on student work in Southern Methodist University are felt perhaps more keenly by the Theological Department than by any other,” reported The Campus, the SMU student newspaper, on Oct. 1, 1918. “Last year there were more than eighty ministerial candidates. This year the number is reduced to some twenty.”

The fall of 1918 also brought the Spanish flu pandemic, claiming some SMU students’ lives and forcing quarantines not unlike those of today. One early School of Theology graduate and beginning pastor, Frank Rye, was a double victim of major events of 1918. He entered the U.S. Army chaplaincy only to die of influenza on November 29 that year.

Two years after the peak of Spanish flu, Frank Seay, an original School of Theology faculty member, beloved on campus and beyond, died of influenza at age 38. His death and funeral were covered in lengthy articles in the Dallas Morning News.

The 1919 edition of the SMU Yearbook, Rotunda, featured photos and obits for the students lost to the Spanish flu epidemic and World War I. Click image to enlarge.

All through its early years, financial insecurity plagued SMU and with it the School of Theology. Debts mounted yearly. A visiting committee of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, called the situation “little short of desperate.” Judge Joseph Cockrell, SMU board chair, was even more plain when interviewing Hiram Boaz for the school’s presidency.

“I don’t believe you, or any other man, can save the University,” Cockrell said as reported in Allen’s history. “It is gone, hook and line. But I want to see you try it.”

Boaz would become SMU’s second president and prove to be the saving fundraiser. But during his tenure John Rice, an Old Testament professor, came under attack in the Texas Christian Advocate and elsewhere for his book The Old Testament in the Life of Today. Worn down by accusations of heresy and receiving less than firm support from Boaz and Cockrell, Rice resigned in 1921, causing unrest in the School of Theology and tarnishing SMU’s reputation for protecting academic freedom.

The 1930s saw SMU and the School of Theology struggling financially once more, due to the Great Depression. Faculty salaries had been sharply reduced by 1932 and took years to recover.

Despite precarious finances, SMU and Perkins weathered the Great Depression. Shown here, students studying in the Kirby Theological Library in 1931. Click image to enlarge.

Times were tough for students too.

“A lot of students, the only way they could go was to carry a church and maybe several churches, and then to have another job,” Allen said by phone.

Bishop John Wesley Hardt, who died in 2017 at age 95, shared in interviews and his own writings just how resourceful ministerial students such as himself had to be. While still studying theology at SMU in 1941, Hardt led five small churches in Bowie County, Texas. Unable to afford a car, the future bishop-in-residence at Perkins rode buses and sometimes hitchhiked to get to them.

World War II would cause a drop in male enrollment at SMU as well as the arrival of a Navy V-12 training program, including chaplaincy training for some theology students. In 1946, memorial services were held on campus for 131 former SMU students killed in the war. The address was given by Umphrey Lee, school president and an early theology student. Robert Goodloe, a professor in the School of Theology, gave the concluding prayer.

On Feb. 6, 1945, near the end of the war, the announcement came that Joe and Lois Craddock Perkins of Wichita Falls, Texas, were giving $1.5 million to the School of Theology. One Hundred Years on the Hilltop, Darwin Payne’s centennial history of SMU, says the gift was both the largest SMU had received and the largest given to any theology school in the U.S. It would prompt the renaming of the school for the Perkins and the creation of the present campus, including Bridwell Library and the Mark Lemmon-designed Perkins Chapel.

But the school’s challenges did not end. After World War II, as enrollment swelled with returning veterans supported by the GI bill, SMU created a trailer village near campus and employed used barracks at White Rock Lake for student housing.

After World War II, acres of trailers provided temporary housing for students returning to attend SMU on the G.I. Bill.

The Rev. Wallace Shook, 93, recalls that when he entered Perkins as an Army Air Corps veteran in 1947, all he and his wife could find was a trailer between Dallas and Fort Worth. They shared a bath with the families in the trailers nearby. Better, closer housing would come soon, but Shook, like Hardt, had to balance schoolwork with serving small rural churches.

He at least had a car to travel to his four-point charge in and around Laneville, Texas.

“It was a 1940 Chevrolet, and the (gear) shift was on the steering wheel,” he said.

The 1950s saw Perkins rise in academic standing under Dean Merrimon Cuninggim and star faculty members he recruited. Perkins also was a pioneer for SMU in integration, admitting five African American students in 1952. They would graduate on time, three years later, but not without behind-the-scenes drama over Cuninggim’s insistence that they be allowed to live in the dorms and room with white students.

Social change would accelerate in the 1960s, with Perkins’ increasing number of women students pushing to be taken more seriously, and black students asserting their own concerns. The school would soon hire its first female and African American professors and create a Mexican American Program.

Challenges have continued right along, including the 2007-2009 Great Recession, which cost the seminary positions through attrition, recalled former Dean William Lawrence.

A seminary education requires students to confront the hardships faced by Job and so many other Biblical characters, and to derive theology from them and their stories. It is perhaps fitting that Perkins’ story has its share of tribulation.

In an oral history interview, the late Perkins professor Bill McElvaney described his experience as a student at the school in the 1950s, enthusing about one professor after another.

But he also recalled how Professor Joe Mathews would often tell students, without explanation, “If you’ve never been to Waxahachie, you’ve never been to Waxahachie – but you will.”

Only gradually, McElvaney said, did he and the others realize “Waxahachie” was a Mathews’ code word.

It meant hard times.


Sam Hodges is a Dallas-based freelance writer and editor for United Methodist News Service.

Photos courtesy of Joan Gosnell, SMU University Archivist. 

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Going Remote

The transition to online learning was unexpected and rapid – but so far, Perkins faculty and students have coped with some flexibility, some innovation, some patience, and a willingness to roll with the punches.  

When students left for spring break in March, most had no expectation of how quickly things would change. Spring break was extended an extra week, and when they returned, all Dallas classes had migrated to online.   

Rebekah Miles is teaching two classes this semester — United Methodist Doctrine and Spiritual Formation – now both online. The transition proved more complex than expected. 

For one thing, her students are in very different places during this quarantine.  Some are quarantining alone; others are at home with spouses and kids, juggling schoolwork and jobs with helping their children with schoolwork – all of which involve Zoom meetings. 

“It’s complicated at times,” she said. “But it’s kind of sweet to see kids come in and sit on their laps, or dogs and cats coming through the room.”  (Another unexpected participant: SMU President R. Gerald Turner (pictured) popped into a Zoom meeting of the United Methodist Doctrine class. Turner visited at least one online class for each SMU schools in April.)  

SMU President R. Gerald Turner (middle, right) made a surprise visit to Rebekah Miles’s United Methodist Doctrine class. Pets and kids have also made cameo appearances.

One of the students in Miles’s Doctrine class, Melissa Nelms (M.Div., ’22) is now homeschooling her 4 and 6-year-old children.  She’s grateful for the flexibility that Perkins staff and faculty have shown, given her responsibilities at home.  

“My husband and I are balancing our work/class schedules with our kid’s needs,” she said. “I much prefer the interaction of a live Zoom class, and I’d like to think our kids would make it through a Zoom class with me, but my experience over the past four weeks has shown me that’s an unrealistic expectation. Under the circumstances, it is easier for me to watch pre-recorded lectures and post discussion responses as I’m able. That allows me to be more available to my kids during the day.” 

Miles was already adept with online learning platforms like Canvas and Zoom, but a few days into online teaching, she realized she needed to change the way she was presenting the material. She has incorporated more PowerPoints, online whiteboards and other visuals to make sure students have something to see while she’s talking.  

The biggest challenge for Miles has been “reading the room” when all of her students are in different rooms in different locations. Not all students have the bandwidth to run their webcams throughout the entire classroom period.  

“Ordinarily I would be standing in front of a group of students, and they could see me, and I could see their body language and see what’s going on in the classroom. Even if you can see everyone’s faces, you don’t have access to the same body language.” 

On the other hand, some of the online discussion boards that supplement her Doctrine class has led to some of the best discussions she’s seen. Miles ordinarily asks students to post a brief paragraph before class related to the week’s material.   

“I look at that a few hours before class, and I can see what issues are coming up for people,” she said.  “Now, in place of one of our in-class discussions, they use the discussion boards to engage the material and each other, and their insights are excellent.”   

Beate Hall at her online learning station.

Another of Miles’s students, Beate Hall (M.Div., ’20), says she’s struggling to focus in the new normal.   

“Many days it takes longer to get focused and ready to learn,” she said. “It probably doesn’t help that my desk is my creative space. It’s where I paint, sew, doodle, write, and otherwise make a mess!”  

Hall, a pastoral intern at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Dallas, has appreciated the time that Miles devoted in class to check in with students spiritually and emotionally, the regular emails from Dean Hill “with timely and uplifting advice and a message of hope about the uncertain future,” and the efforts of Tracy Anne Allred and Laura Figura in the Office of Student Life to keep the community connected.  

“They always go above and beyond, but it is great to see their creativity during this time, like hosting a virtual study hour so people do not have to study alone,” she said.  

One unexpected blessing: Hall has fairly severe seasonal allergies and, in past years, springtime has been challenging.  “Online classes and worship and community have meant that I can still fully participate without any extra accommodations or struggles,” she said. “It’s nice to know that my sneezing won’t interrupt the lecture for anyone but me.” 

Robert Hunt’s World Religions and Evangelism classes moved online fairly seamlessly, which he credits to his previous experience in virtual learning with the Global Theological Education program. Hunt did need to revisit class assignments to make sure they were still doable given that students were sheltering in place. Assignments that required in-person library research, for example, were modified.  

Hunt has found some creative ways to keep his class engaged and connected. He keeps “virtual office hours” – posted periods of time when students know he’s online and available via Zoom meeting should they have questions or concerns.  

“They know they can find me during these times and pop in and talk if needed,” he said. “To keep students motivated, they need to see each other and their professor face-to-face.” To keep students on track, Hunt added fun, enjoyable weekly assignments that give students instant feedback – such as watching a short lecture then taking a quiz.  In addition, he schedules regular half-hour Zoom meetings with class participants during each week, a way of answering any questions they might have and checking on students’ progress and their spirits.  

“We always ask about how our families are doing and pray for each other,” he said.  

Wes Allen has also added an element of pastoral care to his Introduction to Preaching class during this time, something he normally wouldn’t do routinely. 

“It’s not just a matter of being online, it’s being online in the midst of this stressful time,” he said. “Now there’s pastoral care for everyone in the class, and they give it back to me, too.” Each class begins with a check-in, asking how everyone is doing.   

Allen caught a lucky break – he’s teaching two sections of Introduction to Preaching. By spring break, he had just finished the lecture portion of the class.  

“I didn’t have to produce content, I just had re-arrange how we did the preaching exercises,” he said.  

For the practicum part of Allen’s class, each student presents two sermons; for the first round, Allen met individually with each student via Zoom, which allowed him to give intensive, one-on-one feedback.  For the second round, students each preached through a webcam, with the rest of the class providing feedback as a group.   

“Which is the norm at the moment for all preachers – we’re learning along with everyone else,” he said. The Zoom format moves a little more slowly than in a brick-and-mortar classroom. In person, it’s just easier to see whose hand is raised, and of course, no one needs a reminder to mute their mike. Not surprisingly, many of the students’ sermons relate to the pandemic.  

Preaching via webcam is different than preaching in front of pews full of people. Although some pastors are preaching at the pulpit for online worship, most speak directly into a camera. “Viewers see much less hand movement,” Allen said. “It’s so much more about the face.” 

Allen noted that, for students, an online format requires different time management skills.  

“Some students do well with independent learning; others thrive better in face to face learning,” he said. “Sometimes, introverts come out in online learning. Some are much more forthcoming on discussion boards. This is not the route we want to go for all education, but there are pros and cons. We’re in a limbo stage right now.”   

Students in Robert Hunt’s courses reflected on that “limbo” — how life has changed at their jobs, at their home churches and at the churches where they serve. One student, a teacher, said that she’s getting to know the parents of her students, much more than she would otherwise. A few noted that they’re having to find creative ways to connect with older parishioners who don’t own the devices or aren’t comfortable enough to access Zoom or FaceTime.  

Some students noted, however, that the move to online church has some silver linings. Said one student: We’re reaching new people, making better contact with members, and bringing back people who slipped away. We’re never going back to just the old way.” 

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Inside Perkins

Like everything else this semester, Inside Perkins has gone online – with an excellent response.

Normally, Inside Perkins is the daylong program that brings prospective students to campus to attend classes and meet with faculty, staff and students. Since late March, however, three Inside Perkins events have been held via Zoom. Nine students attended on March 26; 12 attended on April 16; and a third meeting took place on April 30.

“I’ve talked to my counterparts at seminaries across the country, and no others have been able to get this kind of traction for Zoom sessions,” said Margot Perez-Greene, Associate Dean of Enrollment Management. “We’ve been extremely pleased with the response.”

A bonus: the online format made Inside Perkins more accessible to prospective students outside of the United States. The April 16 session included attendees from Zimbabwe, Angola and Mexico, as well as Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The events have been formatted to give students many of the same experiences they’d get with a campus visit. Following a welcome and introductions, attendees listened to Perkins students who shared about their experience with the academic program and community life. Another student talked about the Baptist House of Studies. Dean Craig Hill then presented a 30-minute presentation on “Your Vocation in a Time of Uncertainty.” Finally, students heard talks from Perkins staff on financial aid opportunities and the Perkins Financial Literacy program funded by the Lilly Foundation.

“I’m so grateful that we were able to provide this delivery format to engage prospective students and to provide a new venue for them to ‘visit’ Perkins virtually, to meet staff and hear from students,” said Perez-Greene.

The next virtual Inside Perkins event takes place on May 7 and will focus on the Houston-Galveston Extension program. To register, click here.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Course of Study School (COSS)

Rev. Deniece Mason, Perkins COSS alumna 2019.

At the conclusion of her first career, as a stay-at-home mom who raised five children, Deniece Mason felt a calling to ministry. But attending seminary wasn’t in the cards.

“I didn’t want to go back to school full time, and taking out loans at my age was not an option,” said Mason, who recently turned 60. Instead, she chose Perkins’ Course of Study School (COSS), which allows students to prepare for ministry through summer and part-time study. She completed the curriculum in 2019, and today, the Rev. Deniece Mason is pastor of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Sachse, Texas.

The May 15 application deadline is nearing for the Course of Study School’s two 2020 summer sessions, which run July 6 – July 24 and July 27 – August 14. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer’s courses will be taught online.

“In the past few years, students have been on campus for the first week of classes and then completed the work online in the following two weeks,” said the Rev. Dr. Paul Barton, who directs the program. “This year, the program will be fully online for the health and safety of our students and faculty.”

The Course of Study School (COSS) is a program of The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of The United Methodist Church, in partnership with and administered by Perkins. It provides a basic theological education, as prescribed by the United Methodist Book of Discipline (par. 1421.3d), to licensed local pastors. The Basic Course of Study is a 20-course curriculum required of all licensed local pastors who are not enrolled in a seminary degree program. In late March, GBHEM staff recommended that all regional programs not hold classes on their campuses in June and July.

Mason says she received a rigorous education, including classes with many of Perkins’ faculty members: Old Testament with John Holbert, Early Christian Church History with the late Bill Bryan, Ethics with Hugo Magallanes, and Worship and Sacraments with Mark Stamm, among others.

“We had the opportunity to study with some of the best professors, who really invested their time into the program,” she said. “At the same time, I feel we were uniquely prepared to do the practical work that a pastor’s job involves.” Mason took courses in Church Administration and Pastoral Counseling, for example, which taught skills she now uses almost daily.

Spanish Language Program

At Perkins, Course of Study School summer classes are offered in both English and Spanish. Perkins is one of only two theology schools in the United States authorized by GBHEM to provide the Course of Study in Spanish. Enrollment in the Spanish language program has grown steadily as Perkins’ Course of Study School expanded on a number of fronts. Last year, 90 students were enrolled, 27 of them in the Spanish language program, the highest total in recent years.

In 2017-18, the program transitioned to a hybrid format, combining both residential and online learning, allowing students to spend just one week on campus and complete the remaining two weeks online. Barton expects the program will return to that hybrid format after the pandemic.

“Once the outbreak of COVID-19 has passed and public gatherings are safe, we will return to our normal manner of delivering COSS,” he said.

In February 2020, the program expanded from its previous summer-only schedule to begin offering two courses in the spring semester and even more courses in the fall semester at Perkins. In addition, Perkins oversees three extension schools that offer courses for part-time local pastors: the Texas Annual Conference Extension, taught on Saturdays, with six courses in the spring (March – May) and fall (September – November) semesters; the North Texas Annual Conference Extension, which offers classes in the spring, summer and fall; and the Arkansas Annual Conference Extension, which offers Saturday classes at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

The program also recently added two satellite schools – in 2018, one in the Western Jurisdiction, taught in Spanish; and in 2020, at the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. Those are in addition to the established satellite school at McMurry University, with classes meeting once a month on Saturdays in the spring and fall.

This year, the program is also opening up opportunities to audit courses for continuing education to certified lay ministers involved in full-time ministry, and to clergy and pastors from United Methodist churches as well as other denominations.

“We are always looking for ways to adapt to changing times,” Barton said.

The Basic Course of Study curriculum includes 20 courses in four tracks: Theological Heritage, Pastoral Identity, Congregational Ministry and Bible. Students receive a certificate of completion when they complete the entire 20 courses. Completion of the Basic Course of Study makes the local pastor eligible for Associate Membership in the annual conference. Those who complete the Basic Course of Study may opt to continue in the Advanced Course of Study, which is designed to fulfill requirements for probationary and full membership in an annual conference and ordination where a non-seminary option is offered.

“It’s not just an easier way to get prepared for ministry,” said Mason. “It’s an opportunity for people who didn’t get this call early in life to follow their call. I’m just grateful that Perkins does this.”

For questions about registration, please call 214-768-2265 or email Download the Course of Study School brochure here.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Pandemic Roundup

To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, April has been the strangest month.  The Dallas campus is eerily empty. With all Dallas campus classes moved online, members of the Perkins community improvised ways to keep learning moving along and community connection strong.

Summer 2020 courses at Perkins have also moved online, including the Course of Study School classes and the Houston-Galveston hybrid classes.  May 16 remains the official graduation date, but commencement ceremonies have been postponed until August. General Conference and many Annual Conference have been cancelled or moved online; Perkins is making plans to have a presence where possible.

Meanwhile, students, alumni, faculty and other community members are finding ways to serve and support others.

Kathy Hines: Stitching for Safety

When Kathy Hines (M. Div., ’20) learned of the need for surgical masks for medical professionals, she started sewing.

First, she heard from her sister, a nurse in Minnesota, who told her that supplies were scarce and she could use more masks. Hines made 60, boxed them up and mailed them.  Next she heard from a college friend in Jacksonville, Tenn., who works at a nursing home and needed masks.  Hines made 40 and sent those off. She also heard from fellow students at Perkins who needed masks and filled their requests too. More went to friends and relatives in Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Missouri. All told, Hines has made and donated some 300 masks in March and April to people in eight states.

She calls sewing her Zen – a way of cultivating serenity during stressful times.

“Sewing calms my spirit and gives me peace,” she said. “Knowing there were people who needed these masks, that gave me purpose.”

Hines, a certified candidate on the ordination track to become an elder in the United Methodist Church, has been sewing for more than 30 years and also worked in the medical industry. She owns a company called Mommy Scrubbs, which makes a patented garment for breastfeeding moms who work in medical settings.  Hines has temporarily retooled that business to make surgical masks, which are available for sale at

Sharing Digital Tips

To help ministers stay connected during the pandemic, the Perkins School of Youth Ministry (PSYM) is offering a series of online webinars and other resources. On April 23, Perkins alum Victoria Sun Esparza (M.Div., ‘19) led a webinar on “Designing Digital Spaces for Youth Ministry,” with insights on engaging all the senses through digital platforms, curating an authentic fun emotional space online and imagining new opportunities. (Learn more about her work at  Other April webinars included Dr. Terry Parsons with “Crisis Counseling for Youth Ministry in COVID-19” and Sam Halverson leading “Youth Leadership for a Quarantine Season.” Upcoming webinars: on May 6, 12:30 p.m. to 1:40 p.m.,  “Organizing Your Ministry in the Midst of Chaos” with Michelle Moore. (Space is limited; registration is required.) Later in the month, Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education at Perkins, will lead “Creative Teaching Principles for Digital Environments.”  Date and details TBA; follow the Facebook page for updates. PSYM has also put together 10 free sample lessons which youth leaders may use to lead digital studies during the quarantine.  Visit to download the lessons, access the recorded webinars and find more information.

Conference Updates

In a typical year, Perkins sends representatives and hosts alumni gatherings at annual conferences in Texas and nearby states, as well as General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference. However, 2020 has been far from typical.

General Conference, scheduled for May 5-16, has been postponed until 2021. South Central Jurisdictional Conference, originally slated for July 15-18, has also been postponed.

Most of the Annual Conferences in which Perkins normally participates have been moved online or rescheduled to a later date in the late summer or early fall: North Texas (September 18-19); Arkansas (June 13 – online); California-Nevada (September 18-21); Florida (September 19, location TBA); Oklahoma Indian Missionary (August, details TBA); Tennessee (September 18-19); Oklahoma (May 27 online, and November 20-21 in person); and Texas (August 14-15).

Currently, the Central Texas Annual Conference is still on for June 14-17, but a tentative date of August 9-11 has been set should the event be rescheduled. The Desert Southwest conference, scheduled for June 11-14, has not made alternative plans but attendees are asked to hold those dates for a possible online event. Great Plains will hold a one-day business meeting online on May 30, with the conference convening Oct. 1-4.  The Rio Texas and Louisiana Annual Conferences have postponed but have not yet set new dates. The Missouri Annual Conference will livestream a pre-conference briefing on May 28, followed by a virtual clergy session on June 5, then a one-day clergy and lay session slated for a Saturday in August, details TBA. Northwest Texas and New Mexico will hold a joint Annual Conference on August 15 in Lubbock.

Perkins staff is following the situation and will join where possible, whether online or at one-day meetings. Special events for alumni in each conference are also under consideration.  Details will be posted as they become available.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Health Care Holy Care

In just one week, Claudia Stephens had the chance to witness the work of hospital chaplains firsthand – in the emergency room, in an oncology ward, in a long-term care facility – as they cared for people of different religious faiths, or no faith at all, representing a wide range of backgrounds and economic levels. All this happened in one short but intensive week as she participated in the 2019 Health Care Holy Care program, a January term course taught at Houston Methodist Hospital.

“This class gave me the opportunity to walk side by side with professional chaplains in the healthcare system,” said Stephens, an M.A.M. student at Perkins.

January 2021 is more than six months away, but it’s not too early to start thinking about applying to the next Health Care Holy Care. The course runs Sunday evening January 10 through Friday, January 15, 2021, and consists of daily lectures as well as immersion into the world of hospital chaplaincy.

“This course is absolutely life-changing,” said Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology, who will co-lead the course along with Dr. Robert Kidd of Houston Methodist Hospital. “It’s a unique opportunity to link practice to theology, and back to practice.”

Taking advantage of the hospital setting, students “shadow” chaplains at Houston Methodist and attend lectures on pastoral listening skills, bereavement, spiritual care, confidentiality, compassion fatigue and topics such as suffering and God’s will, or how to deal with patients who pray for miracles, or those whose religious beliefs may lead to harm. The course is open to all Perkins students regardless of their campus location but tends to attract students who have a particular interest in chaplaincy and pastoral care.

Stephens, who is also an associate professor of Costume Design at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, is working toward a career as a chaplain. For her, Health Care Holy Care offered valuable real-life experience.

“They teach you about verbal and body language, and how to pray and reach out to those who may not share your faith, without offending them,” she said. “I was able to observe chaplains minister to people right off the street in the emergency room. And I saw how the chaplains also reached out to the nurses, doctors and administrators, to give them pastoral care, too.”

Course leaders say participants can expect to be challenged but backed by a strong component of support. “Students are part of a cohort of up to 12 students, and the whole hospital system is incredibly supportive,” said Stevenson-Moessner.

The hospital’s welcoming culture also adds to the caring learning environment, said Dallas Gingles, associate director of the Houston-Galveston Extension Program.

“If someone is walking around looking lost, every employee in the hospital is required to ask: ‘Can I help you find your way?’” he said.

David Kim (M.Div. ‘21) attended the 2019 Health Care Holy Care program and was recently accepted into a clinical pastoral education (CPE) residency program.

“The Health Care Holy Care class at Houston Methodist Hospital was a vital step for me understanding the chaplaincy, and I still hold the experience close,” he said.

Students not only observe chaplains but also have an opportunity to try their skills in providing pastoral care to patients, under the chaplains’ supervision. After each patient visit, chaplains provide guidance and feedback.

“Yes, it was very scary, but by the third day, I knew I could do this, because these chaplains had the tools to help,” Stephens said. “As a chaplain, your role is focused on listening and observing as opposed to doing. I learned to let the Holy Spirit work through me. I would just enter the room, be loving and careful and open, and let things go where they needed to go for the good of the patient.”

Apply Early

Stevenson-Moessner encourages students to email her immediately to indicate their interest, well before J-Term registration opens in early November. Because participants will be working in the hospital, each student must undergo a fairly extensive onboarding process, including drug testing, health screening, a flu shot and a TB test, all of which must be completed by October 15.

“I’m going to shepherd any students who want to attend, to make sure they meet deadlines and don’t fall through the cracks in this process,” she said.

In addition to regular tuition charges for three credit hours, students are responsible for their own travel to and from Houston. Several courses are required, including Christian Heritage I and II, Interpretation of the Old Testament I and II, Interpretation of the New Testament I and II and Church and Social Context; however, there is the possibility of a waiver for some of those prerequisites for students with a strong interest.

The hospital provides some meals for participants and all accommodations in a nearby hotel at no cost to students. Students who live in the Houston area are required to stay in the hotel.

“We ask students to have a cellphone with them and to stay together, as they will be on call,” said Stevenson-Moessner. “You get a badge, and you are treated like an employee of the hospital for the week of the course.”

Stevenson-Moessner encourages students to contact her now.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.


Contact Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner