May 2020 News Perspective Online

Student Spotlight: Melissa Nelms

Melissa Nelms’ journey to Perkins School of Theology involved a move from “No” to “Yes.” As an undergraduate at Oklahoma City University, she felt a pull toward ministry – but not toward seminary.

“Whenever I wondered whether I should go to seminary, it was a pretty hard ‘no’ for me, for a long time,” she said. “I saw myself in ministry but never in a traditional church setting.”

That feeling started to shift after she took Disciple Bible Study, and completed the section where participants identify their gifts and callings, which led to jobs at Acts 2 United Methodist Church in Edmond, Okla., first in youth ministry, then as director of discipleship.

“That affirmed in me that I had a call for ordained ministry,” Nelms said. She still has all the sticky notes of “yes” votes from members of the Acts 2 Administrative Council who confirmed her as a certified candidate on the elder track in the Oklahoma Conference.

“They remind me of all the love and support I still have,” she said.

Once she decided to attend, Nelms had her heart set on another seminary – one with a prestigious name and a hybrid program that would take her to another part of the country, but only part time, allowing her family to remain in Oklahoma. She applied to Perkins mostly as a courtesy to a friend who’s an alum.

But that all changed when she and her husband visited the campus for an Inside Perkins event. She heard a panel of students talk about Perkins’ supportive community, learned about opportunities to intern at innovative ministries in the Dallas area and spent an hour talking with Tracy Anne Allred, assistant dean of student life.

“Perkins just felt like home to us,” she said. “We had a great, warm welcome from the staff and faculty. The hospitality and warmth we experienced made Perkins feel like the right choice.”

So Nelms and her husband, the Rev. Andy Nelms, a pastor in the Oklahoma Conference, packed up and moved to the Dallas area. He’s now serving as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Prosper, Texas, while Melissa pursues an M.Div. degree, with an expected graduation date of May 2022.

One of the highlights of her first year was visiting local ministries as part of the three-day Ministry Dallas program, held in August. That included a stop at Christ Foundry United Methodist Church, which serves a congregation of Hispanic members, many of them undocumented, in Dallas.

“Out of that visit I decided that I wanted to be involved in advocacy and to help DREAMer-aged students who might face barriers to seminary education,” she said.

She’s also a member of L@s Seminaristas, following an invitation from Rosedanny Ortiz-Malave, who she met at Christ Foundry. That led to her current leadership role as vice president, serving along with Stephen James (president) and Clelia Pena (secretary/treasurer).

To stay grounded, Nelms prays the Daily Office and writes in her journal, and keeps her mantra, “Breathe deep,” posted on a wall at home.

“I’m really leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit through this season of life, and that reminds me to slow my pace, centers me, empowers me and reminds me to connect with the people I’m coming in contact with,” she said.

She’s also balancing her studies with caring for her son, 4, and daughter, 7.

“The move to Perkins has allowed me to study theology while also focusing fully on my family,” she said. “When I’m home, I’m with them, but I still have enough time to devote to my studies. It’s a blessing to be fully present in both of those places, and for my kids to see me doing this, too.

“I’m so grateful to be here and to be part of the Perkins community.”

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Faculty Profile: Mark Stamm

Mark Stamm’s vocation centers on the study of Christian worship, theology and practice of the sacraments within Methodism. His vacations, however, tend to focus on baseball.

Rooting his academic work is a firm conviction that the way Christians worship affects much more than just what happens on Sunday mornings.

“There is not a hard boundary between worship life and the rest of our life as Christian people,” he said. “There ought never be a hard boundary. When we see worship as this walled off, pious practice that doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the world, then we’re in trouble.”

Stamm is currently working on an article for Doxology, an online liturgical studies journal, looking at intercessory prayer in wedding ceremonies. In his 2015 book, Devoting Ourselves to the Prayers: A Baptismal Theology for the Church’s Intercessory Work, he described intercessory prayer as a vocation rooted in church members’ common baptism. Intercession, he believes, should be directed to those in the church as well as those beyond the walls of the church.

“We never gather simply for our own edification,” he said. “It’s always with our eyes toward the rest of the world. One place we embody that is in our prayers. Prayer is an exercise in imagination, but we don’t imagine very well, if we haven’t thought deeply. Yes, we pray for the people we know, but we need to get beyond that. When we do that, our imagination and perception of the world is widened, and our sense of compassion grows.”

Stamm also performs a leadership role in worship in the Perkins community, as Chapel Elder, a job he jokingly calls “chief cat herder” for weekday worship services at Perkins.

He is also a longtime member of The Order of Saint Luke, a religious order rooted in Methodism and dedicated to sacramental and liturgical scholarship, education and practice. Because, as he says, “I tend to be the guy who remembers most of the stories,” he’s now directing an effort to collect narratives about the history of the order for its upcoming 75th anniversary in 2021.

“One of the things I love doing more than anything is hearing people’s stories,” Stamm said. He’s also working on a memoir of the late Horace T. Allen Jr., a Boston University theologian and Stamm’s doctoral advisor.

“Horace taught me a lot, and I’ve realized more and more how much of what he taught me lives in me,” he said. “My students probably get tired of hearing about him.”

Before coming to Perkins 20 years ago, Stamm spent 17 years in parish ministry, most of those in the Central Pennsylvania Conference. Since 2008, he has been a member of the North Texas Conference and still makes it a point to speak often on Sunday mornings in local churches. The COVID-19 crisis has created an interesting opportunity for what he calls a “resetting of perspective.”

“Much of what I do is an exercise in thinking about what it means to be baptized and what it means to live out the spirituality of baptism, which is really discipleship,” he said. “We’re figuring out how to sustain chapel and community worship during this time. In a way, we have to reconceive what it means to gather.”

Baseball Vacations

When he’s not working in academia, Stamm’s attention often turns to a second passion: baseball. He’s a regular attendee at Texas Rangers games and an active member of the Society for American Baseball Research. On vacation, he likes to visit ballparks around the United States – and he’s been to many of them.

“I have been to all 30 of the major league baseball parks currently in use, and 38 in total,” he said. “I’m waiting to make it 39 at Globe Life Field in Arlington.”

With baseball season on hiatus, right now he’s making do by watching replays of key games, like the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Stamm’s love of baseball began at age 8, when he was a preacher’s kid living in Stewartstown, Pa. He recalled, “The Yankees had dominated the American League for 45 years, but finally some other teams were up and coming, and the Baltimore Orioles were just 45 minutes away.”

Research Interests

Rites of Christian initiation, the practice of “open communion” in Methodism, theology and practice of congregational intercession

Favorite Bible Passage

Stamm says he’s continually fascinated by Acts 2, a passage about the baptism of a group of converts. Afterward, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, NSRV)

“That really speaks to the way I perceive my life and my teaching,” he said. “There’s this connection between liturgical worship life and the way that, properly understood, that should overflow into all of life.”

Book on His Nightstand

He’s currently reading the 18th installment of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith, having already read the Professor Dr. von Igelfeld/Portuguese Irregular Verbs Series by the same author. Stamm calls Smith a “subversive traditionalist”; he discovered his work after SMU presented Smith with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2009.

Fantasy Dinner Party

Stamm would invite just one guest: the late baseball great Frank Robinson, the only player to be named Most Valuable Player of both the National League and the American League, and the first African American manager in Major League Baseball. “He had about every job you could have in Major League Baseball from 1955 until the early 2010s,” Stamm said. “I regret that I never had the chance to meet him.”


Stamm and his wife, Margaret, an RN, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last summer. The couple has two grown sons, Timothy and Matthew.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Interfaith Podcast

When a crisis hits, the faithful turn to their leaders, their communities and their religious teachings and scriptures for guidance and strength. While common themes emerge, each faith tradition has its own unique approach to the crisis.

To explore how various faith traditions are responding to COVID-19, Robert Hunt, director of Global Theological Education at Perkins, launched the “Interfaith Encounters” podcast.

For the inaugural season series, COVID-19 and Faith Communities, he spoke with local leaders of the Islamic, Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions about how their communities are coping and how the teachings of their traditions inform their response. Listeners can find the podcasts at Each podcast runs about 20 minutes. Future seasons will focus on other current social issues.

“It’s only when we understand what we are each going through that we can be mutually supportive and find ways to work together for society,” Hunt said.

As an example, Hunt said, he discovered that the Jewish community maintains a kosher food bank for those who keep kosher in the Dallas area. Similarly, Muslims facing food insecurity might need access to halal foods, and strict Hindus might require vegetarian food.

Hunt added that religious communities have different obligations for people who are dead or dying, so it’s important to ensure provision for those needs in hospitals and in chaplain services.

For the podcast, Hunt asked all of the faith leaders to address the same questions, including:  What do we need to understand about how your community is responding to, and affected by, the pandemic? Are there times when the current shelter-in-place restrictions are particularly difficult? Are there ways that the broader community can be supportive? How is the response of your community rooted in your scriptures and traditions? What are important things that people of different religions can do together during this time?

Finally, Hunt asked: What does your religious tradition tell us to learn from a crisis like this?

That elicited a broad spectrum of answers, ranging from the extremely pragmatic (“Obey the authorities”) to the very spiritual (“Life is transient, and it’s important to have a relationship with our creator”).

“The one theme that emerged very quickly from the people I’ve interviewed was the need to be supportive of social distancing and to follow the science and to be compliant to what the authorities ask us to do,” Hunt said.

In the first episode, Azhar Azeez, past president of the Islamic Society of North America, noted that all area mosques are shut down and all have converted their worship services to online platforms. Many miss the weekly Friday sermons and prayer services – a key aspect of Muslim communal life – but faith leaders have explained the dangers of gathering in large groups, via webinars and other outlets. In addition, Azeez said, some 80,000 Muslim doctors and nurses are currently serving on the front lines in the United States, and many have lent their expertise to the education effort. The Fiqh Council of North America issued a joint statement explaining why mosques should remain closed during the shelter-in-place period and provided a scriptural rationale, composed by a dozen prominent Islamic scholars in the United States and Canada. Several passages in the Qu’ran depict instances of sheltering-in-place during a time of pestilence.

The programs are being released on the following schedule:

  • April 21: Islam, with Azhar Azeez, past president of the Islamic Society of North America
  • April 24: Vendanta, with Pravrajika Brahmaprana, resident minister of the North Texas Vedanta Society
  • April 28: Sikh, with Harbhajan Singh Virdee, the Sikh Gurdwara of Irving, Texas
  • May 1: Jewish, with Rabbi Bentzi Epstein, Dallas Area Torah Association
  • May 5: Christian, Methodist, with the Rev. Dr. Michael Waters (D.Min. ’12, M.Div. ’06) of Abundant Life AME
  • May 8: Buddhist, with Dr. Jon Reid of the International Buddhist Progress Society
  • May 12: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Mark Romney, Elder
  • May 15: Hindu, with Mr. S. P. Krishnamurthy of the DFW Hindu Temple Society
  • May 19: Christian, United Methodist, with Bishop Michael McKee (M.Th. ’78) of the North Texas Annual Conference, UMC

Hunt’s connections to the interviewees stemmed from his work as an organizer of many interfaith events on the SMU campus and as a leader in inter-religious and multifaith dialogue in Dallas through Faiths in Conversation of Thanksgiving Square, the Dallas Institute and Faith Forward Dallas of the Interfaith Council of Thanksgiving Square.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Perkins Launches Ecumenical Endeavor with Logsdon Seminary

Perkins School of Theology is collaborating as part of a group of institutions committed to preserving the heritage of Logsdon Seminary, in light of its closing next year by Hardin-Simmons University (HSU). The group is developing plans for extending and expanding the seminary’s “big-hearted Baptist” legacy into the future.

Citing financial stress, the university in Abilene, Texas, announced in February it would close the seminary. HSU is offering final contracts to seminary faculty through May 2021 as part of a teach-out process. Previously, Logsdon had been singled out for criticism as too progressive by a few conservative West Texas pastors.

Representatives of Logsdon faculty and alumni consulted with leadership of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas, Fellowship Southwest, the Baptist Houses of Studies at Perkins and Texas Christian University’s Brite Divinity School. Congregations and donors committed to training ministers also are involved in the conversations.

From those discussions, the group committed to care for Logsdon students and faculty and to develop options for Logsdon students who may be interested in completing their seminary degrees at Perkins or Brite. They also have considered how Logsdon faculty can continue to prepare women and men for ministry, embodying the Logsdon legacy in a cooperative effort with the other two schools.

“We welcome this new partnership with Logsdon and look forward to welcoming both students and faculty into our community,” said Perkins Dean Craig Hill. “The Baptist House of Studies, led by Jaime Clark-Soles – an internationally known Baptist clergywoman and professor – is on the cutting edge of providing a home to Baptist students who seek a quality theological education. Perkins School of Theology will certainly be enriched by the gifts and graces of former Logsdon students and faculty, and we are grateful for this exciting new venture together.”

Looking beyond those immediate concerns, the group has begun planning for long-term ministry preparation that embodies the ethos of Logsdon, a seminary that provided open- hearted, broad-minded ministry training across more than two decades.

Their plans include creating a network that will partner with churches and the participating groups to:

  • Help young people consider careers in ministry, nurturing them as they discern God’s plan for their lives.
  • Provide ongoing theological education, steeped in Logsdon’s heritage and traditional Baptist values, offered in conjunction with Perkins and Brite and utilizing professors who have taught at Logsdon.
  • Ensure a strong start for students as they move into vocational ministry by providing mentoring, peer-group development and continuing education.

These plans speak not only to current Logsdon students, but also to the seminary’s alumni, as well as to future ministers who value the seminary’s legacy, said Kyle Tubbs, president of the Logsdon Alumni Council.

“We welcome you, we cherish you, we want to listen to you,” Tubbs said about what he hopes the new venture will communicate to Baptists who feel disenfranchised.

Bob Ellis, dean of Logsdon, said serving at the school the last 24 years has been the greatest privilege of his career but looked ahead with optimism.

“We grieve that the seminary will not continue as a part of Hardin-Simmons,” Ellis acknowledged, but added, “These plans hold the promise of preserving some of the great spirit of Logsdon Seminary and transforming it into a seedbed for growing new ways to equip ministers for our rapidly changing church and world.”

The overall group hopes to help Baptists, particularly in the Southwest, coalesce around a fresh vision of partnership and theological education, said Marv Knox, coordinator of Fellowship Southwest.

“All these partners see their plans as a redemptive opportunity emerging out of the Logsdon crisis,” Knox said. “They will open a path to a broad ecumenical endeavor that prepares women and men for ministry in churches across the Southwest and beyond. And as they minister with grace, skill and vision, they will extend Logsdon’s legacy for generations.”

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Center for Preaching Excellence

The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence continues to add new resources for church leaders and pastors as they lead virtual worship and gatherings during the pandemic.

For Holy Week, Alyce McKenzie posted a timely blog, “Preaching to an Empty Tomb.” During the quarantine, she writes, many of us awake each day with “a persistent sense of being entombed, shut off from others and struggling to feel the presence of God all day long. There is profound biblical precedent for this feeling.” Read her post here.

In addition, the Center launched a new video series for pastors called “What’s a Preacher to Do?” with wisdom from scholars of various disciplines about preaching during this time. The first episode featured Maria Dixon Hall of SMU and Charles Wood of Perkins.

Check out the library of videos online here.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Perkins-Cliff MOU

Perkins School of Theology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cliff College, a Christian theological college in Calver, Derbyshire, in the United Kingdom. After formal approval by Peter K. Moore, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs ad interim, the MOU was signed in a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, April 28, by Perkins Dean Craig Hill and Cliff College Principal, the Rev. Ashley Cooper, and Head of Global Partnerships, the Rev. Andrew Harper.

The agreement provides for collaboration on digital resource creation projects, cultural immersion courses and student and faculty exchanges, as well as internships and post-graduation stationing in The Methodist Church of Great Britain. The UK school also helped facilitate the placement of a Perkins intern at Methodist churches in Derbyshire last fall.

“This agreement formalizes a collaboration between Perkins and Cliff College that is already well underway and fruitful,” said Dean Craig Hill of Perkins. “This is a long-term investment that will provide exciting opportunities for both institutions.”

A key aspect of the MOU is a continuation of the ongoing partnership between Perkins and Cliff College in the creation of digital resources for theological education, including lectures, interviews and lessons, with Cliff College facilitating the development of an online digital resource distribution platform and Perkins facilitating the production of the content. In recent years, Harper has worked with Robert Hunt and Perkins’ Global Theological Education program.

“This has been a long time coming, and we’re very glad at Cliff to be able to have done this remotely,” said Harper. “I think this speaks to the nature of the work we’re doing together – the digital nature of the work – so I think it’s very fitting that this signing has taken place via Zoom.”

Other components of the agreement include:

Cultural Immersion Courses: Through the agreement, Perkins School of Theology and Cliff College will make available to students of both schools organized intercultural immersion courses offered by each school respectively.

Student and Faculty Exchanges: Guest students from Cliff or Perkins may enroll in courses of the host school, subject to approval by the relevant program coordinator. Through the agreement, guest students will remain enrolled as regular degree candidates at their home institutions, with credits toward the student’s degree awarded by the student’s home institution. The host institution will assist in the arrangement of accommodation for the exchange students, with all costs paid by the incoming students. In addition, faculty exchanges may be arranged between the corresponding academic departments of the two institutions.

Internships and Post-Graduation Stationing: The Perkins Intern Program and The Methodist Church of Great Britain together with Cliff College have agreed that a Perkins student may complete their nine-month Master of Divinity Full-Time Internship within locations determined by The Methodist Church of Great Britain. The student will be supported by a committee of church members to meet monthly with the intern for feedback and evaluation. The Perkins Intern Program will sponsor the travel and accommodations for a Mentor Pastor to attend the New Mentor Pastor Institute at Perkins. In addition, Cliff and Perkins will explore the possibility of stationing Perkins alums in the Methodist Church in Britain system.

“We are excited about being in partnership with Perkins and look forward to what that means for the future as we journey together,” said Cooper. “We are eager to be together again face-to-face as soon as this time of isolation is over.”

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Staff News

The Rev. Connie L. Nelson (M.Th. ’84), executive director of Perkins’ Office of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations, has been named a recipient of the 2020 Faculty Senate Outstanding Staff Award.   Each year, the SMU Faculty Senate honors five exemplary staff members with this award, with recipients nominated by SMU faculty members.

Recipients usually receive a citation and gifts at the final meeting of the Faculty Senate in May; this year’s presentation has been postponed, likely until this fall. The recognition is “a measure not just of jobs well done, but also of the personal contributions the individuals have made to the web of interconnections that make up SMU,” according to the Faculty Senate’s website.

As they have in past years, Barnes & Noble, Meadows Museum, Meadows Theatre, SMU Dining Services and SMU Athletics Department will provide gifts to the honorees.

In 2019, James Pan, Academic Technology Service Director, was selected for the award based on recommendations of Perkins staff. Other past Perkins recipients include Duane Harbin, Roberta Cox, Stephanie Carroll, Judith B. Gibbons and Pam Goolsby.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Faculty Update

Jack Levison’s New Book Trending on Amazon 

Jack Levison’s new ebook, 7 Questions About the Holy Spirit (Amazon, 2020) was trending on Amazon this month, ranking among top releases in the Spirituality Short Reads and Pneumatology Christian Theology categories. Levison is W.J.A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew at Perkins. Check out the book here.


Robert Hunt Leads Unity Prayer

Robert Hunt, director of Global Theological Education at Perkins, recently led “United Through Prayer,” a daily videoconference with leaders of Dallas-area faith communities. Hosted by the Dialogue Institute Dallas, the prayer sessions began Sunday, March 29, and have continued nightly at 8 p.m. Each evening, a prominent faith leader shares their reflections and prayers for about 10 minutes, via the Institute’s Facebook page.

“No matter what our personal faith is, we are one big human family facing the same challenge,” according to a statement by the organizers. “Let us choose to unite and stay on the side of faith and hope.”

Many other alums and SMU-affiliated names have turned up in the prayer sessions, including the Rev. Blair Thompson-White (M.Div. ’12, D.Min. ‘18) of Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson; the Rev. Dr. George A. Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church, a board member of Perkins’ Baptist House of Studies; Imam Dr. Bilal Sert of the SMU Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life; Rabbi Heidi Coretz of the SMU Office of the Chaplain and Hillel; and Pastor Richie L. Butler of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Dallas and also a member of Perkins’ Executive Board; and the Rev. Deniece Mason of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Sachse, a recent graduate of Perkins’ Course of Study School.

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Update

Bryant Phelps Featured in COVID-19 Story

The Rev. Bryant Phelps (D.Min. ‘17) is shepherding a congregation of mostly senior citizens in one of the Dallas County ZIP codes hit hardest by the coronavirus. “While he has no fears about the church universal surviving the pandemic, it’s the 150 or so people who make up Church of the Disciple in DeSoto – and those in other congregations of color – whom Phelps worries about,” writes columnist Sharon Grigsby. Read the story in The Dallas Morning News story here.


The Rev. Kellie Sanford. Photo c/o DMS and by Jennifer Griffin.

Perkins Alums on Front Lines

Two Perkins alums, the Rev. Kellie Sanford (M.Div. ‘17) and Eric Markinson (M.Div. ‘17), hospice chaplain at CC Young retirement home in Dallas, were quoted in a United Methodist News story about the challenges faced by chaplains during the COVID-19 crisis. Flexibility is key as they cope with families who can’t see their loved ones – sometimes even dying loved ones – because of the coronavirus that has killed thousands as it spreads around the world. Read the story here.


Blair Thompson-White’s Easter Op-Ed

The experience of preaching to an empty room has been “awkward and awe-some,” writes the Rev. Blair Thompson-White (D.Min. ’18) in an op-ed published on Palm Sunday in The Dallas Morning News. While it feels odd preaching with no people in the pews, she said, “I am in awe at how God can work through technology. I should have known this, of course, but I have always been a bit more like Thomas in the Gospel of John, who needs to experience the data firsthand in order to believe.” Thompson-White is senior pastor of Arapaho United Methodist in Richardson.


Bishop Mueller named for Arkansas Task Force
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has named Bishop Gary Mueller (M.Th. ’79) to the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force that will provide guidance for opening the state of Arkansas following the COVID-19 global pandemic. The state task force is made up of 27 individuals that represent industry, small businesses, outdoor recreation and sports, agriculture and other groups. Read the story here.



Mask-Making as Ministry

The Rev. Kristin Hanna (M.S.M. ‘12), associate pastor of worship and mission at Christ United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, N.C., has sewn nearly 400 masks to donate to health care workers at Duke Hospital, Wake Med, the Ambulatory Health Center at UNC, pediatric facilities and a nursing home in Chapel Hill. She has also sent masks to California, Louisiana and New York. Read the story about her work on the North Carolina Conference website.


Rushing Accepted into Eastern U Degree Program

Michelle Rushing (M.Div. ‘15) has been accepted into the Doctor of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Studies degree program at Eastern University. She is scheduled to begin her studies on May 11, 2020.


Kellner in Ironman

Thomas Kellner (M.Div. ‘16) will be competing at the Ironman World Championship in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii in October. He is a little worried about the limited opportunities to practice his swimming between then and now – due to the closing of so many facilities because of COVID-19 – but otherwise is looking forward to the event.


Friends We Will Miss

Charles Frederick Hahn

Charles Frederick Hahn (M.Div. ’55) died March 27 in Bloomington, Indiana, at the age of 89.  From his earliest days as president of his Oklahoma City District Methodist Youth Fellowship, Charles’ life was defined by his calling as a pastor. He received his undergraduate degree from SMU, and while at Perkins, met Doris Schulze, whom he married in 1955. After serving as pastor for several churches in the United Methodist Church Southwest Texas Conference, Charles requested a special assignment to work with the Ecumenical Institute and then the Institute of Cultural Affairs, initially teaching courses in religious and cultural studies and later doing community development work around the world. Charles is survived by his wife, Doris, two daughters, a grandson and three great-grandchildren. Memorial service plans will be announced at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to Hoosier Hills Food Bank in Bloomington; email to let them know your donation is in Charles’ memory. Read the obituary here. Online condolences may be made to the family at

May 2020 News Perspective Online

Graduation Preview

SMU President R. Gerald Turner has announced that SMU’s University-wide Commencement Convocation has been postponed until August.

“Given the current global uncertainty and restrictions on large gatherings in Dallas County … we’ve made the very difficult decision to postpone SMU’s commencement weekend until Saturday, August 15,” Turner said in a video statement. “We didn’t want to delay it, but we needed to.”

Turner noted that May degrees will be officially conferred on May 16, with transcripts available on May 29 and diplomas mailed out on June 19; only the ceremony has been postponed.

Plans are currently in development for separate events to honor graduating students of Perkins School of Theology. A total of 62 Perkins students are expected to graduate in this academic year, including seven December graduates, 44 May graduates and 11 in the summer.

Perkins’ Celebration of Degrees and Academic Achievements is tentatively scheduled for Friday, August 14, with the Rev. George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church preaching, with the venue and time to be determined. Graduating students are being polled regarding their preferences and availability for possible options for the rescheduled event.

This year’s Sending Forth Service took place during regular weekly worship conducted via Zoom on April 29, with Dr. Abraham Smith preaching.  Graduating Perkins seniors were recognized and received a blessing. More than 120 people attended the online gathering.

A virtual end of the year gathering for the Perkins community is tentatively planned for May 14, with details still being finalized. Awards will be announced at that event. In addition, a Senior Class Worship Service is planned for Friday, May 15, at 5 p.m. via Zoom meeting.