News October 2021 Perspective Online

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey Speaks at 2021 Barton Lecture

In the beginning was a Story, and that Story is good. That Story is ours.

With those words, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey began her lecture, a meditation on the importance of story in the community of faith and in the struggle for justice.

“If you think about it, story is the main differentiator that we humans have from the rest of the animal kingdom,” she said. “From the beginning we have relied on stories to help us navigate life on this planet. Not only do we share stories, we bring our own story.”

Harvey was speaking at the Barton Lecture on September 20 on the campus of Perkins. Some 35 people attended in person, with 45 joining online. The Barton Lecture aims to disseminate knowledge of Hispanic/Latin@ theology and ministry for the benefit of the academy, the church and the wider public.

Harvey has served as Bishop of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church since 2012. She earned an M.Div. at Perkins as a member of the first class to graduate from the Houston-Galveston program. The program was launched during the tenure of Robin Lovin, then dean of Perkins, who was in the audience that evening, and is currently led by Hugo Magallanes, associate dean of academic affairs, who introduced Harvey’s lecture. Harvey also currently serves as the President of the Council of Bishops and is a member of the Perkins School of Theology Executive Board.

In the lecture, Harvey shared her own story and encouraged those in the audience to share their stories, too. She noted that the one who mastered the sharing of the story – Jesus – often spoke in parables.

“Those parables continue to speak to us even today,” she said. “The question is, what new parables are we telling? But we must first ask ourselves: What are we saying about ourselves through our story? What are we telling the world about the movement of God in our lives as Hispanic Latinos? Are we telling our story? Do we believe our story is good? And do we believe that our story is ours to tell?”

Harvey shared photos from her childhood home in Big Spring, Texas – “one with the Virgin Mary in the front yard … the one on the wrong side of the tracks.”

There, Harvey grew up surrounded by family: her grandparents, who were born in Chihuahua, Mexico, her parents, two siblings, and an array of primos, primas, tias, and tios (cousins, aunts and uncles), not all of them officially related.

“This is the house that built me,” she said. “El barrio raised me. Life was not easy, but it was filled with love. It was also filled with stories. Everything in our culture is about a story.”

Stories can be good, she said, but they can also be dangerous. Stories can be used to dispossess and malign, but they can also empower and humanize.

“Our story has the power to empower, and to humanize, and to repair broken dignity,” she said. “Our story is one of diversity. Our story is our story, and it is good.”

Harvey recalled a story of shared meals in her mother’s home. One year, she came home from college for Thanksgiving. She noticed a young man at the table that she didn’t recognize. She asked: “Who are you?”

The visitor told her he had met her cousin at the local community college. The cousin told him that her mother’s house always had great Thanksgiving meals. However, that cousin wasn’t present.

“Somehow this fellow had slipped in and he had assimilated himself into the family and shared this meal with us,” she said. “I’ll never forget that story. That’s my table then and my table still is today. It’s a metaphor for who I am.”

Throughout the lecture, Harvey invited those in attendance to repeat the litany that opened her lecture, written by Britney Winn Lee: In the beginning was a story. And that story is good. That story is ours.

She also paused her lecture to invite members of the audience to turn to a nearby attendee and to discuss questions she posed: “Who do people say that you are? And who do you say that you are? What are two or three statements that you absolutely believe?

“Your story shapes who you are,” she said. “It raises you and shapes what you believe.

“Our greatest and most important identity is as a child of God. Who we are versus what we are. We are part of one another’s story. My story is incomplete without yours. We are actors in one’s another’s story. That’s the beauty of diversity. This story is not mine. It is ours. Our story is rich, and it heals hurts. It is filled with experiences of reconciliation, of grace, mercy, justice and love. Our story is the gospel story. It’s the new parable. And it’s not reserved for certain people.”

Harvey added that it is the story of 15,000 immigrants under a bridge in Del Rio, and it is the story of thousands in the Hispanic community who died of COVID in disproportionately high numbers.

“We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God,” she said. “We must never neglect that gift.

“We have a story to tell to the nations. It is a story that has the capacity to change hearts, a story that can turn darkness into light. That story is ours and it is good.”

The Roy D. Barton Lectureship was established in 1995 to honor Dr. Barton for his distinguished service to the seminary and his equally distinguished service to the Hispanic United Methodist Church. Dr. Barton served as the founding Director of The Hispanic/Latin@ Ministries Program (then called the Mexican American Program) and Associate Professor of Practical Theology in Perkins School of Theology from 1974 until his retirement in 1995.

Over the years, the lectureship has featured many prominent Hispanic speakers, including Dr. Justo L. González, Dr. Daisy L. Machado, Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr., Dr. Loida Martell, Dr. Hugo Magallanes, Dr. Fernando Segovia, and Dr. Harold J. Recinos.

To view the lecture, visit

News October 2021 Perspective Online

New Certificate in Practical Ministry

For church staff, laity and students looking to enhance their practical skills and knowledge, Perkins is offering a new option: the Perkins Certification in Practical Ministry, beginning in January 2022.

“This certification is designed to equip students with practical knowledge and tools to empower them in their life-long spiritual journey and ministry,” said the Rev. Heather Gottas Moore, assistant director of lifelong learning and coordinator of the program. “It’s a great way for lay and clergy people to expand and enhance their education related to ministry in the church and beyond.”

To earn the Certification, students will complete five graduate-level, two-hour noncredit courses. Those will include three required courses — Engaging Theology, Engaging the Bible and either Adaptive Leadership or, for those seeking UM certification, United Methodist Studies – as well as two courses in a chosen area of specialization.

Beginning in January 2022, the program will offer options to concentrate in Disability Theology & Ministry, Evangelism, Ministry with Children and Ministry with Youth. In addition, concentrations will be offered in Christian Spirituality (in partnership with the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program) and Interim Ministry (in partnership with Transitional Intentional Interim Ministry Specialist Association of The United Methodist Church.)

Program leaders look forward to exploring additional topics in 2023 and beyond, tentatively planned to include (but not limited to) Camp & Retreat Ministry, Church Leadership, Ministry on the Margins, Ministry with Adults, Ministry with Young Adults, Sexuality and the Church, Contextual Ministry (Rural, Urban, Extension) and Women & Gender Studies.

Courses will be taught on campus in Dallas in January and in May and will be graded on a pass/fail basis; students must pass all courses to receive a certificate. Students may complete a certification at their own pace, typically within two to five years.

Some specializations may be combined to create unique certification areas. For example, a student may combine Children’s and Youth Ministry or Youth and Young Adult Ministry courses to create a broader specialization in Faith Formation.  These combinations will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the certification staff.

Moore expects the program will be of particular interest to five groups: Church staff seeking training opportunities to expand their theology and ministry toolbox for the ministry context within which they serve; laity looking for theological educational opportunities that feed their desire for lifelong learning and expand their theological understanding in practical, applicable ways; undergraduate students; current Perkins students desiring concentrated study in a ministry area outside of their current curricular opportunity at Perkins; and Perkins alumni interested in continuing education opportunities in specific ministry areas.

She added that the Certification courses also give students an avenue for exploring theological education.

“Certification programs allow students to get a taste of what seminary would be like,” Moore said. ““By combining relevant, applicable studies in the practice of ministry with a robust theological framework, students get a glimpse for how graduate theological education can impact the work they do in the church every day.”

Applications or the first term, January 2022, are being accepted through November 19, 2021.

For more information, visit the Certification Program website at:




News October 2021 Perspective Online

Bridwell Reopens

Newly Renovated Library is Open for Business

After two years of closure due to renovations and COVID-19, Bridwell Library re-opened on August 18.

“We’re back and we’re better than ever!” said Anthony J. Elia, Director and J.S. Bridwell Foundation Endowed Librarian.

A new welcome desk greets arriving visitors in an open and inviting space. Renovations have made the building’s entryway and bathrooms more accessible. Newly refreshed spaces for quiet study await in the Red Room (home to the library’s periodicals), the Green Room (reference collection) and the Blue Room (the collection of materials related to Methodism and John Wesley)—where John Wesley’s own traveling pulpit now resides.

The lower level houses the stacks as well as a collaborative study room and private study carrels for Ph.D. students working on dissertations; the second floor is home to renovated administrative offices as well as a conference room and a Benefactors Room for public events.

One aspect of the renovation of particular interest to Perkins students: the newly dedicated space for the Theological Writing Center.

“We have a lot more to offer now in terms of enhancing and refining the services of the Bridwell Theological Writing Center, which has a fabulous and highly effective staff and student assistants,” said Elia.

Official Reopening

The official reopening, including a ribbon cutting, took place at a reception held September 1 as part of the Dante Festival. Additional activities are planned for the next few months to celebrate the milestone.

“A number of university committees, executive boards and groups who are stakeholders in Perkins, SMU Libraries, Bridwell and the wider university community are coming in October and November to celebrate the opening,” said Elia.

One of eight libraries on the SMU campus, Bridwell was built in 1951 and underwent renovations twice before, in 1972 and in 1989. The latest $6.1 million renovation began in May 2019. Improving accessibility was a key impetus.

“The 1989 renovations were completed just months before Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” said Jane Elder, Reference Librarian.  “Now we’re fully ADA-compliant.”

The first phase of work began in the reading rooms, which were completed and reopened in December 2019 for a few months.

“The initial idea had been to section off areas and work on them in parts,” said Elia. “We thought we’d be closed for just a few months, so that the library could stay open and reroute patron traffic through various sections of the library while some parts were demolished and rebuilt.”

COVID-19 changed those plans, however, extending the initial renovation closure in December 2019 and leading to the full shut-down of the entire building to the public from March 2020 until the August 18 reopening.

Despite the closure, library staff found ways to continue to serve patrons. The Rev. Dr. Greg Smith (D.Min. ’21) even managed to complete his dissertation during the closure.

“The incredible team of librarians at Bridwell took it upon themselves to find resources from our library and then mail them to my home in Brenham,” said Smith, who is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Texas. “They additionally contacted other theological librarians across the country who were willing to provide the needed resources either by mail or online. I can safely say that the actions of the staff of Bridwell made all the difference in my completing this project within the timeframe required for the Doctor of Ministry program at Perkins.”

Library staff also took advantage of the closure period to tackle internal projects in the library’s back-end.

“We still worked full force, efficiently and effectively even while we were working remotely part of the time and then returned to the building without in-person patrons,” said Elia. “Some of us actually felt like we got more work done during this time, but we also ended up having more work spread among us because of staff vacancies that occurred just before and during the pandemic.”

Leading Library

The renovation means that members of the Perkins community will enjoy access to one of the nation’s finest research collections in theology and religious studies. Bridwell houses nearly 400,000 volumes and some 50,000 rare books, manuscripts, art and cultural artifacts ranging from antiquity to the present.  During the recent Dante Festival, Bridwell both commissioned and acquired completely new and unique works for its collections.

“Bridwell’s collections and archives are growing significantly, especially with the World Methodist Museum and the United Methodist Publishing House collections,” Elia said. After announcing plans to close last spring, the World Methodist Museum selected Bridwell Library to receive its extensive collection of items related to John Wesley and early Methodism.

Elder added that, while Bridwell’s focus is theological, many books and items in the collection relate to other disciplines.

“We’re not just the Bible library,” she said. “We have materials that would be of interest to students of history, art history, English, foreign languages, printing and bookbinding.” The acquisition of antique printing presses, typographic plates, and materials related to the history of publishing will be a major development in the next few years at Bridwell.

Bridwell is also known for its exceptional and first-rate incunabula collection. (“Incunabula” refers to materials printed in the first 50 years after the invention of the printing press—literally meaning “in the cradle” of printing.)

Visitors to the renovated library will also notice artwork from the Bridwell collection displayed throughout the library, much of which had been in storage for decades prior to the renovation.  On the top floor, near the stairs, is a large 1898 oil painting entitled Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, by Emanuel Krescenc Liška (1852-1903). The painting was restored in 2019. Also nearby is the unattributed Madonna and Child done in the style of works by Florentine artist Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530.) The oil on wood painting depicts the Madonna and Child with John the Baptist.

Plans are underway to install museum quality descriptive labels with QR codes next to each piece of artwork, so that visitors may scan for more information about the piece’s history, artist and provenance.

Elia notes that library staff continue to develop services, programs, tools and more for better and easier use of the library and access to information.

“Our staff is making every effort to get information and books to those who need them,” he said. “We are expanding our e-book collections for easier and quicker access; and we are engaging with students to make our services as useful and easy as possible. We look forward to having you visit and enjoy the newly renovated spaces and utilize all of its services.”

News October 2021 Perspective Online

Alum Profile: Samira Izadi Page

As stories in the news reported refugees streaming out of Afghanistan, most of us watched and prayed for their safety. The Rev. Dr. Samira Izadi Page sprang into action.

Just days after the U.S. exited Afghanistan, she helped settle 20 Afghan refugees in North Texas and expects more to arrive soon. Page (M.Div. ’10, D.Min. ’16) has been ministering to refugees arriving in North Texas for almost two decades, as executive director and founder of Gateway of Grace, a nondenominational nonprofit that connects more than 90 Dallas congregations with refugee families in the area.

Spurring her passion for this work is her deep faith – and her own experiences as a refugee.

Page was was born and raised in Iran in a nominally Muslim family. At age 6, she had a vision of the Virgin Mary. And at age 9, she saw the film Song of Bernadette. After the vision, “I knew I wanted to be where Mary was, but I had no idea where that was,” she said. After seeing the movie, “I knew my life belonged to the church.”

Living in Iran, she had no opportunities to pursue her new faith. Then her husband, a Sunni Muslim, was persecuted in the Shia-dominated country.  Fearing for his life, the family fled in 1999.

“We had two kids, and we walked through four feet of snow for two nights,” she said. “God was amazingly present every step of the way.” They traveled through Turkey to Mexico; after a year in Mexico, they crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S., nearly drowning.

“Again, God was very much present,” she said. “We applied for asylum and connected with a church the first day we were in the U.S.”

In Dallas, she experienced a generous Texas welcome from a local Baptist church that provided a fully furnished apartment for her family. Page was baptized in that church, but later looked to other denominations when she decided to pursue ordination. She applied to Perkins and was admitted, even though she had no transcripts of her previous academic work.

After graduation, she was ordained in the Episcopal church and founded Gateway of Grace. The nonprofit works to mobilize churches to help refugee families settle into apartments with furniture and groceries. The ministry also provides help as they apply for Social Security cards and other needed documentation; learn English and tap into other services as needed. Funding from the U.S. government provides some funding for newly arriving refugees; volunteers and donations provide the rest.

“We are coming alongside refugees and building relationships,” Page said. “We are with our families for the long term. We try to get them from a situation of desperation to flourishing.”

Christian faith is presented to the refugees, but Gateway of Grace does not proselytize.

“We remember that many of these refugees have been oppressed and lost everything in the name of religion,” she said. “We don’t ask them, ‘Are you saved?’ We start by meeting their needs and helping them regain the human dignity they’ve lost. As we love them unconditionally – as we break bread with them, gain mutual trust. If they ask, we share with them. But we don’t go in with the agenda. We make the name of Christ and love of God known to them through our actions.”

When she started Gateway of Grace, Page added, she never anticipated that it would become the largest mission of its kind in North Texas. Or that mission could help unify Christians during a divisive time.

“We have partner churches from all denominations – conservative, liberal – but they gather together to serve refugees,” she said. “We may have all sorts of differences, but where we can come alongside each, that is where Christ is manifested most powerfully.”

Prepared by Perkins

Page says her Perkins education was “everything” in helping prepare her for this work. She would welcome interns or volunteers from Perkins who would like to see faith in action.

She was reminded of the value of her Perkins education recently when Gateway of Grace started a new church plant for Farsi-speaking refugees. It began with a small Bible study, expanded to dinners with worship and music, and now is a fledgling church. Just a few weeks ago, the new church baptized two adults from Iran. They weren’t converted in a “come to Jesus” conversation, Page added; instead, “They saw how we genuinely loved them.”

Starting the new church brought back memories of a class Page took at Perkins with former faculty member Elaine Heath.

“As a student, I did a project on how to start a worshipping community,” she said. “I didn’t think about it until recently, but that’s exactly how we started this new church. It was incredible to see how that project was actualized successfully.  I had forgotten where I had learned it!” Page sees refugees as a fertile mission field for American Christians. She wrote about that in a recently published book, which she co-edited with Bread for the World CEO Eugene Cho, Transforming Evangelism with Immigrant Communities.

“Right now, it’s extremely dangerous and costly to send missionaries to other countries,” she said. “So here’s an opportunity. They’re coming here. What’s our response going to be? What does God want for these refugees? God is opening the door for them in this country.

“A secular person does not look at [the refugee situation] with the view of the abundance of God’s resources and God’s grace. A Christian looks and says, ‘God can provide and God will provide.’ There is no shortage of resources with God, or in this country. It’s the matter of whether we have the Christian mindset of God’s abundance – or the mindset of scarcity.”

Sometimes the hours are long, and the needs can seem endless. What keeps Page keep going?

“This is my response to the grace of God in my own life,” she said. “I look at what Christ has done for me. How can I not love those for whom Christ has died and loved?” 

News October 2021 Perspective Online

Student Spotlight: Mara Bim

Mara Bim’s path to Perkins began at an NRA prayer breakfast.  And yes, there’s a story behind that.

Bim attended the breakfast for research in her role as artistic director of Cry Havoc Theater Company, the Dallas youth theater troupe she founded in 2014.

“We create original plays, and frequently ones on issues of social justice,” she said. Research often consists of conducting interviews with people with direct experience on each topic. In preparing to write a play about guns in America, eventually titled Babel, Bim and her teen co-creators joined the NRA and attended the convention in Dallas in 2018.

“The prayer breakfast was shocking to me,” she said. “I was there with Wes Magruder, who was my pastor at Kessler Park United Methodist at the time and who was attending the event in protest. Sitting next to him witnessing this was the first time I started contemplating about theology and how it’s misused.”

Another theater project, later titled Crossing the Line, took her and a group of teens to the southern border, where they met migrants and witnessed their suffering first-hand. Again, religion and faith were part of the picture. She met Catholic workers assisting migrants and spoke with a Methodist pastor who had traveled with the caravan.

“We visited a church with teenagers from a detention facility who were separated from their families,” she said. “Watching them cry at the feet of Mother Mary was particularly moving. So there’s been this religious theme in much of the work we’ve been doing, and that’s where my interest arose. After I came back from the border, I started seriously thinking about applying to Perkins.”

The lynchpin that led her to actually apply: the January 6 insurrection.

“Watching people pray and use the name of Jesus and God in that way was really upsetting to me,” she said. “I started my Perkins application right after that. I decided that if I wanted to be engaged in this conversation, I needed to learn more about theology.”

Bim started this fall, pursuing an M.T.S., and has a particular interest in women in the early church. She’s juggling her studies while continuing to run the theater company and raising a 5-year-old. She is a member of Kessler Park United Methodist Church in Dallas along with her husband, Brett. To stay grounded in the middle of all this, she meditates and prays almost daily. She also has a gratitude practice 15 years, similar to the Examen, in which she sits and expresses gratitude each night before bedtime.

The M.T.S. will be her third master’s degree. She earned an M.A. in performance studies at New York University and an M.S. in Education from the City College of New York.

In addition to being close to home, Perkins felt like a good fit for Bim.

“Everyone I’ve encountered at Perkins – administration, staff and faculty – truly seems to be invested in the program and the students,” she said. “Once I started engaging with the people here, it was a no-brainer.”

Bim has no definitive plans for using her Perkins degree, but is considering going on to earn a Ph.D.

“At this point I’m not interested in ordination,” she said. “I think my gift is as a storyteller.”

Her storytelling work at Cry Havoc Theater has garnered a good bit of media attention. In early 2020, D magazine declared that the youth theater company “is staging some of the boldest work in Dallas. Cry Havoc Theater is taking on some of our most pressing issues with empathy and nuance beyond its years.” Cry Havoc’s production of Crossing the Line, co-created with Tim Johnson and Kitchen Dog Theater, won multiple awards from the DFW Critics Forum. Recently, Bim was featured in D magazine’s September cover story, “78 Women Who Make Dallas Great.”

Bim believes the church can do a better job of storytelling. She wants to help tell a more constructive and more compelling story than the one that brought many angry Christian protestors to the capital on January 6.

“The church I attend is a reconciling United Methodist Church, and issues of social justice are very important to me,” she said. “The church hasn’t done a good job of communicating that aspect of its mission to the broader community.”

“I don’t know that I’m going to change any of their minds,” she said of the insurrectionists. “My hope is to speak to the people who have walked away from religion because all they see are the people at the insurrection saying they are doing it in the name of God. They don’t see the other strands of Christianity that do the good works and that are for social justice. So it’s those people that I think my storytelling is for. To say to them, ‘These people over here do not speak for all Christians. It’s not representative of the theology of many Christians.’ That’s where I see my calling.”

News October 2021 Perspective Online

Faculty Updates: October 2021

Ted Campbell to Lecture at Bob Monk Event

Ted Campbell

Dr. Ted A. Campbell will be the featured lecturer at a special homecoming event honoring Dr. Robert “Bob” Monk at McMurry University on Friday, October 15 at 1 p.m.

Campbell will lecture on “The Methodist Who Uttered the Dreaded ‘C’ Word.”

“The title is a nod to Monk’s scholarly work examining Calvinist influences in Methodism,” said Campbell, who is Albert C. Outler Professor of Wesley Studies and Church History. “That’s not a popular topic among Methodists. It’s an under-appreciated topic, and yet very true and much needed. So I look forward to honoring Bob Monk at this event.”

Dr. Robert “Bob” Monk and his wife

Monk served on the faculty at McMurry University as Professor of Religion for 31 years, retiring in 1995. During his years at McMurry, he served as the chair of the religion faculty and the humanities division as well as serving on numerous committees and task force groups.  He also devoted more than 50 years of service to St. Paul United Methodist Church in Abilene, including teaching the Inquirers Class Sunday School since 1966. In 2015, he was the Northwest Texas Annual Conference recipient of the McMurry University Cross & Flame Award, which recognizes individuals for service to their churches and to the University.

Miles Receives Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award

Over the summer, Provost Elizabeth Loboa announced that Dr. Rebekah Miles was one of four SMU faculty members to win this year’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Award. Miles is Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology and Ethics at Perkins.

The Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award annually recognizes four SMU faculty members for their notable achievements in fostering student learning. Recipients receive $10,000 and membership in SMU’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. For two years following the award, they participate with other members of the Academy in providing campus-wide leadership in teaching and learning.

Hunt Lectures at Institute

Dr. Robert Hunt, director of Global Theological Education at Perkins, lectured at the Institute for Multicultural Ministry at The United Methodist Church of Germany Educational and Training Center in Stuttgart in late August. Hunt delivered a two-part lecture, “Missio Dei—Towards Practical Applications in the Current Missional Context.” The Institute is an annual week-long training program for pastors of multicultural congregations in Europe, organized by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Hunt, who was the pastor for seven years in the multi-cultural English Speaking UMC of Vienna, was one of four lecturers for the conference, which involved 19 participants from a dozen different countries.

The United Methodist Church in Europe has a number of multi-cultural congregations served by pastors from around the globe. Among those in attendance at this conference were pastors from Angola, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Kenya, Estonia, Germany, and the United States serving multi-cultural churches in England, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Portugal. “Each context brings its own challenges, whether it is ministering to refugees, migrants, or the international business community,” said Hunt. “All are united in a commitment to serve in culturally complex environments where people of many different backgrounds and gifts come together in Christ.”

News October 2021 Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Updates: October 2021

Haircuts for Kids

How can a church help send students back to school on the right foot? At Journey of Faith United Methodist Church in Humble, Texas, it started with a great haircut. On Sundays last month, the church turned into a barber shop offering children in the community haircuts free of charge. The smiling faces that accompany each new haircut are well worth the effort, according to the Rev. Stephen Goldsmith (M.Div. ’17), the church’s pastor.  Read the story on the Texas Annual Conference website here.

Ed Gabrielsen Called

The search committee of First Congregational Church in Searsport, Maine, has announced that the church has called the Rev. Ed Gabrielsen (M.Div. ’20) as pastor beginning Oct. 1.  A vote by the congregation on Sept. 12 confirmed the calling. The committee wrote in the church’s newsletter: “Ed impressed all of us from the beginning. The more we learned about him—first from the many highly complimentary letters of recommendations from pastors and professors, and then from several phone and in-person conversations—the more we became convinced that he was the perfect match for our congregation.”  Gabrielsen says that the support of Perkins professors and staff – while he was a student and after he graduated – were key. “Finding a church job is not easy, especially for someone like me who is older,” he said. “But I had tremendous help from everyone at Perkins. This was an unexpected benefit of my education there, and I am very grateful. I thank God every day that I was led to Perkins for my seminary training.”

Chavarria Named Worship Leader

Carrie Chavarria (M.S.M.) has been promoted to director of worship effective July 15 at First United Methodist Church, Dallas. She has extensive experience in UM churches in coordinating and facilitating worship. In an email announcing the new role, senior minister Dr. Andrew Stoker (M.Div. ’01) said that Chavarria will be responsible for continuing to build “an intentional culture of hospitality, and curating spaces for worship that allow one’s mind, body and spirit to experience God’s grace and unconditional love.”

Chaplain at Children’s Health

Cassidy Wohlfarth (M.Div. ’17) was recently featured as part of the North Texas Giving Day campaign for Children’s Health in Dallas, where she serves as chaplain for spiritual care and education. “As a chaplain, I often meet heart transplant patients during the transplant evaluation process,” she said. “I’m part of the pre-transplant assessment, and that’s my favorite time because I get a dedicated 30 minutes with families. I’m glad that I’m a safe space for people to wonder with and to help make meaning from those big life questions.  Read the feature here.

Creating Beautiful Objects for Worship 

The Rev. Evan Jones (M.C.M. ’12) was recently featured in a North Texas Annual Conference news article about how his woodworking and welding skills are furthering his church’s ministry. Jones creates beautiful new furnishings for others – such as the cross and pulpit for the contemporary worship space at Grace Avenue UMC in Frisco. Most recently, he created an entire set of liturgical furnishings – a cross, pulpit, communion table and baptismal font – for the newly renovated upper room at First UMC Dallas. The space will serve as home for The Collective, which he describes as “a new experience where all people, regardless of where they are on their faith journey, can come together and feel the love of God and connection to neighbor through worship, conversation and learning.” The first gathering took place Sept. 12. The launch of The Collective is one of the initiatives that Jones has shepherded in his new role as Associate Minister for Emerging Ministries at First UMC Dallas. “For me, it’s about drawing people together around a common table, around a baptismal font that doesn’t look like any other font we’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s about the act of creating as a divine act and fostering that sense of community.” Read the story here.

Food, Faith and Freedom

The Rev. Yvette R. Blair-Lavallais (M.Th. ’13) was recently asked to write an article for Bread for the World: “On Faith: Black August, food freedom and liberation.” The August 9 piece follows her appearance at “Conversations with the White House,” a Bread for the World event in July, when she appealed to the Biden Administration to partner with churches in North Texas to combat food insecurity with a pilot program.

“We must join the struggle for access to a fresh, healthy, and affordable diet for all people as well as access to culturally specific foods,” she wrote. “Dismantling interlocking systems of marginalization and oppression is critical to our health and healing.” Blair-Lavallais is a food justice activist, public theologian, and pastor living in Dallas, and is currently pursuing a D. Min. at Memphis Theological Seminary.

New Novel by Jason Nelson

Hello Woodlands recently interviewed Jason J. Nelson (M.Div. ’13) to discuss his recently released debut novel, The Life of the Party. Nelson is lead pastor at Rose Hill United Methodist Church and an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference. Nelson invites readers to come to faith in Christ as they delve within the pages of his new spiritually inspirational book, published by WestBow Press, that highlights the life, light and love Jesus gives. Check out the book on Amazon.

Compassionate Conversation

Charles Barker (M.T.S. ’14) served as co-host of a recent online event, “Conversations on Compassionate Leadership.” Barker is founder of Compassionate Dallas/Fort Worth and chair of the governance committee and board of trustees for the International Charter for Compassion. Joining him in the conversation was Rakhee Sharma, Education India Lead at Charter for Compassion and founder of Showers of Compassion.

Pastor reflects on COVID experiences

Rev. Chris Yost (M.Div. ’04), senior pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church in Greenville, Texas, recently shared his account of praying with COVID patients, their families and caregivers at a local hospital. He visits the hospital twice a week to pray over patients and with family and staff. He wrote, “If you take nothing else from this, know this: Our healthcare providers are walking through the valley of the shadow of death every day, every hour, for months on end.” Read the story on the North Texas Conference website here.

King selected as Director of Ministerial Excellence

The Rev. Dr. Jacqui King (M.Div. ’04), a veteran in leadership development within The United Methodist Church, has been selected as the Illinois Great Rivers Conference’s Director of Ministerial Excellence. King is an elder in the Texas Annual Conference and began her new responsibilities Sept. 16. Most recently, King served Discipleship Ministries as its director of U.S. connectional relationships. In her new position, King will work to create a “one-stop shop” guiding clergy, spanning the time between entry into the ordination/licensing process to retirement. Read the announcement on the Illinois Great Rivers Conference website here.

Obit: The Rev. Allen Snider

The Rev. Allen Wesley Snider (M.Div. ’96) died August 27. Snider became a United Methodist Lay Speaker in 1985. After working for Texas Instruments in Sherman, Texas, from 1973 until 1989, he attended Perkins and became an ordained United Methodist elder. He served United Methodist churches in Gainesville, Ector, Mulberry, Krum, Sherman, Winnsboro, Pottsboro, Whitewright and Sivells Bend. He is survived by his wife Judy. A Celebration of Life was held Sept. 26 at Lakeway United Methodist Church in Pottsboro; in lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the church at P.O. Box 240, Pottsboro, Texas 75076. Cards may be sent to Judy Snider at 7775 FM 901, Whitesboro, Texas 76273.

Obit: Taylor Scott Boone

The Rev. Taylor Scott Boone (M.Div. ’08) died at age 72 on September 15 in San Antonio from complications of Covid-19, despite being fully vaccinated.  He held a J.D. degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was a respected estate planning attorney. In 2008, he was ordained a deacon in the United Methodist Church. He served at Travis Park Church where his ministry focused on serving the unhoused, the poor, the marginalized, the lost and the least through Corazon Ministries. After his retirement from active ministry, he served the United Methodist Church at the District and Conference levels. He was also the chief architect of the partnership that created Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Methodist Healthcare System — “the founding father of the Methodist Healthcare family in South Texas,” according to his obituary. He is survived by his wife, Alison Wenger Boone.  A memorial service was held on October 2 at Travis Park Church with Bishop Robert Schnase and the Rev. Eric Vogt officiating.  Read his obituary in UMNews here.