News Perspective Online September 2021

Perkins Fall Convocation

An amazing lineup awaits attendees at the Perkins Fall Convocation, November 15-16, 2021. With the theme, Speak Up! Stories for a New Day, the hybrid event features storytelling, music, dance, worship, conversation, top-notch resources and riveting speakers.  Attend virtually or in-person at Highland Park United Methodist Church.  Speakers include: Amy-Jill Levine of Vanderbilt Divinity School; Lillian Daniel, pastor and author of When ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Is Not Enough; and Patrick B Reyes, Chicano educator, administrator and institutional strategist.  Visit the event page for more information and to register here.

News Perspective Online September 2021

Barton Lecture

Registration is now open for the 2021 Roy D. Barton Lecture, which takes place Monday, September 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Perkins School of Theology, SMU.  The featured speaker, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, will share “Tales from the Edge of the Inside.”  The hybrid event offers the opportunity to attend virtually or in person at Prothro Hall on the campus of SMU in Dallas.  The program begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7 p.m.

A Perkins graduate, Harvey has served as bishop of the Louisiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church since 2012.

Registration deadline is September 13; register to attend here.

News Perspective Online September 2021

Student Spotlight: Tripp Gulledge

For most of his life, Robert “Tripp” Gulledge didn’t plan to enter the ministry or to study theology. But now that he’s here, as a second year M. Div. student at Perkins, he’s confident he’s on the right path.

“My father is a United Methodist pastor, and we share the same name,” he said. “I grew up hearing, ‘You’re going to be just like your dad.’ People thought that was a compliment. I always enjoyed my time in church, but I didn’t want to be a preacher, or run church board meetings, or counsel people.”

As an undergraduate at Auburn University, Gulledge pursued a degree in music performance and education, with plans to become a teacher.

“I’ve had teachers who have had huge impact in my life,” he said. “I’m blind, and a couple of my teachers had gone to great lengths to accommodate my disability. I wanted to have that kind of formative impact on someone in the future. That was my original college hope.”

At Auburn, Gulledge got involved in the Wesley Foundation. He discovered that he loved attending and planning campus ministry events. Gradually, he became more and more convinced that he was called to the ministry. In the summer after his freshman year, while attending the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference with his family, he watched the service of ordination for the incoming group of elders.

“My dad said, ‘I remember how sweet an accomplishment that was,’” he said. “His words just covered me with inexplicably powerful emotion. I thought about how much dedication is required of persons who are being ordained. It’s very hard to describe, but I’m confident that was the Holy Spirit placing a confirmed sense of call on my life”

Still, he felt resistant, and prayed that God would instill the desire in him to serve in the ministry.

“By the end of that summer, I absolutely did want that,” he said. “I can’t wait until I can preach regularly and lead others in teaching the Bible and preside with the sacraments.” Now he is pursuing candidacy for ordination in the Alabama-West Florida conference, where his father serves.

As a former aspiring educator, Gulledge chose Perkins, in part, because of its curriculum.

“The core of our M.Div. curriculum seemed very comprehensive,” he said. “Being that I’m familiar with Methodism, I knew what I needed to be well-prepared for UMC ordination.  I’m confident that Perkins has set me up and will set me up well for UMC ordination. Also, the school has many gifted people who are ready to help me to discern my calling and achieve my goals.”

When he arrived at Perkins, Gulledge expected his studies would focus on the Bible. That view has changed, too.

“I love all of it,” he said. “The more I study, the more I get interested in. I love early church history, especially the 4th century, the time of Constantine, the legalization of Christianity, the establishment of creeds and the rise of Monasticism.” He hopes to continue to continue his academic studies after completing his M. Div.

To ground himself spiritually, Gulledge prays and meditates regularly with Anglican prayer beads. He’s also guided by a favorite Bible verse, Psalm 16:2: You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.

“I consider every good thing to be a gift from God,” he said. “I’m being generously supported at Perkins by scholarships made by donors as investments in the future of the church.  The scholarships allow me to focus entirely on my studies. It’s very important to me to make good on that.”

On the extracurricular front, Gulledge enjoyed serving last year with Dr. Mark Stamm on the Worship Working Group, which plans chapel worship services. He’s also a member of the university-wide President’s Commission on the Needs of Persons with Disabilities.

Gulledge’s blindness is due to a retina condition, which has limited his vision since age 14. He’s awaiting additional surgery, and hopeful that future research might develop innovations to restore his sight.

“I’ve had sight before, I don’t have it right now, and I hope and expect I will have it again someday,” he said.

News Perspective Online September 2021

Community Conversations

Robert Hunt and Marcell Silva-Steuernagel launched the first Community Conversations series on July 29 with an online dialogue about the importance of digital ministry. Viewers learned ways of integrating technology into their spiritual work. Other topics included the new theological ideas that have sprung from a technological approach, the human concerns that arise when tech and spiritual matters intersect, and the way the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we view the use of technology. Watch the program online here.

News Perspective Online September 2021

News From Our Partners

Youth and young adults in United Methodist churches in Texas and New Mexico will gain new support from their churches to follow their calls to serve Christ thanks to a Texas Methodist Foundation grant to the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship’s Timothy Circle. The grant application was made in partnership with Perkins School of Theology.

Read the press release here.


News Perspective Online September 2021

Student News

Jessica Spillers Wins History Writing Award

Congratulations to Perkins student Jessica Spillers, recipient of the 2021 Women in United Methodist History Writing Award. Spillers’ paper examines how Methodism appealed to women by aligning head and heart. For her research, she reviewed the letters written in the eighteenth century to Charles Wesley by young converts, particularly the ones written by female converts.  A mother of three, Spillers and her family are members of The Woodlands United Methodist Church. She worked as an electrical engineer in technical sales for 16 years before leaving the workforce to pursue Christian ministry and spend more time with her children. Spillers wrote the paper as part of an assignment for a Methodist history course taught by Dr. Ted Campbell, who is Albert C. Outler Professor of Wesley Studies and Church History at Perkins.

A second year M. Div. student, Spillers was also the 2021 recipient of the Georgia Harkness Scholarship, named in memory of Harkness (1891-1974), the first woman to teach theology at an American seminary and an early trailblazer for gender equality in The United Methodist Church. The Scholarship is designed to encourage women over 35 to prepare for ordained ministry as an elder in The United Methodist Church as a second career. It is awarded annually as an individual $5,000 grant applicable toward tuition, fees and room and board.

News Perspective Online September 2021

Faculty Updates

Pope-Levison Featured at Womens Conference

Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, associate dean for external programs at Perkins, was a keynote speaker for the 11th annual conference of the Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research (ACWR), held August 6-8 online and at Nazarene Theological School in Thornlands, Australia. The three keynote lectures at the conference focused on the emergence of the global Wesleyan deaconess movement in the late nineteenth century, particularly with regard to issues of gender, power and church authority. ACWR is a diverse and multidisciplinary community of established and emerging scholars united by a desire to foster and promote research and scholarship from a Wesleyan perspective and to connect scholars across disciplines and theological divides.

McKenzie Interviewed on Podcast

Dr. Alyce McKenzie was recently interviewed for the More to the Story podcast, sharing insights and tips from her book, Making a Scene in the Pulpit: Vivid Preaching for Visual Listeners (Westminster John Knox Press, 2018.) Watch the podcast, Make A Scene: Tips for Storytellers and Preachers, here (video) or listen here (audio only). More to the Story with Dr. Andy Miller III is a new podcast exploring theology in the orthodox Wesleyan tradition. McKenzie is Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins and director of the Center for Preaching Excellence.

Lawrence Shares Q&A  

The Rev. Dr. William B. Lawrence has developed a series of questions and answers exploring United Methodist polity. “Within recent months, I have had the experience of being asked a lot of questions about United Methodist polity,” he writes. “The inquiries have come from bishops, lay persons, pastors, delegates to the General Conference, lifelong members of Methodist or United Methodist churches, and newcomers to the denomination. I decided to look for some answers and write about them.” Lawrence is former Dean and professor emeritus of American Church History at Perkins and research fellow at the Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition at Duke Divinity School. He is also a former president of the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church.

Recinos Captures Martial Arts Medals

Congratulations to Dr. Hal Recinos, who competed in the Wu Martial Arts Association International Chinese Martial Arts Championship in Houston, July 23-25. He had developed posterior tibial tendonitis that necessitated modifying his training but started feeling better shortly before the competition.  He captured three Gold, six Silver and two Bronze medals and tied for tournament Grand Champion–his rival had one additional Gold Medal.   As for what’s next, Recinos says he’s contemplating retirement from the international tournament circuit. “I have been on the tournament circuit for over a decade and it’s tough on family life during the training cycle,” he said. “I think it may be time to train the younger guys at our school.” Recinos is Professor of Church and Society at Perkins.

Preaching Conference with Wes Allen

The Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church is hosting a virtual preaching workshop with Dr. Wes Allen on Thursday, November 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The program  will look at the new lectionary year in Luke with specific emphasis on Advent 2021.  Registration information will be available on the Rio Texas website and Facebook page starting Sept. 3rd. All pastors, lay servant ministers, anyone who preaches is welcome to attend. Cost is $10.

Dobbs-Wiggins to Receive PRISM Award

Mental Health America of Greater Dallas has named Paula Dobbs-Wiggins as one of its 2021 PRISM Award recipients. The PRISM Awards pay tribute to those who have made a lasting impact in the community on behalf of individuals with mental illness, as well as honors those who have worked to improve awareness of mental health issues. Dogg-Wiggins, an M.D. and former Perkins faculty member, received the Pamela Blumenthal Memorial Award. She currently serves as chairwoman of Parkland Health & Hospital System Board of Managers. The recipients will receive their awards at an evening reception on October 21.

GAs Gone Bad”  

Isabel Docampo’s book Immersion Bible Studies: Joshua, Judges, Ruth (Abingdon Press, 2012) . recently received a nod in a column by Susan Shaw in Baptist News Global entitledGAs Gone Bad: Baptist women you should be reading.” Docampo retired last spring as director of Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins. Read more here.

Evelyn Parker is Visiting Professor

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has welcomed Dr. Evelyn L. Parker as distinguished visiting professor for the 2021-2022 academic year. She is an alumna of Garrett’s PhD program. Parker retired in May as the Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins. During the Fall 2021 semester Parker will be teaching a course entitled “Honoring the Body: Practical, Theological, Bioethical, and Biomedical Perspectives on a Spiritual Practice.” Read the announcement here.

Gingles’ Op-ed in DMN

Dallas Gingles and Erica Ramirez were co-authors of an op-ed that appeared on July 4 in The Dallas Morning News, entitled “To bust vaccine skepticism we have to bust institution skepticism.” They described how commentators on vaccine skepticism have generally missed one very important problem: “A widespread, general undercurrent of distrust toward institutions that permeates everyday life in the United States.” Ramirez, a sociologist of religion, and Gingles, a theological ethicist, described how they asked clinical ethicists and chaplains to reflect on how their hospitals navigated COVID-19. “What they reported sounded nothing like partisan talking points on social media or cable news,” they wrote. “Instead … we heard resounding confidence. Most of the 24 chaplains and ethicists we spoke to pointed to their institutions’ well-established processes.” The op-ed went on to propose ways to rebuild trust. Ramirez is director of applied research at Auburn Seminary in New York; Gingles is site director of the Houston-Galveston extension program of Perkins. Read the column here.

New Books by Hal Recinos  

Hal Recinos has two new books of poetry: Cornered by the Dark (Paraclete Press, 2021), due out in November, and After Dark (Resource Publications, 2021), released in July, which features a poem in memory of former Perkins faculty member Pat Davis. After Dark received praise from many reviewers. “Like Walt Whitman, who found ‘letters of God dropt in the street,’ Harold Recinos finds in the ‘sacramental gutter’ the reliquaries and names of the exiled, banished, and broken by a hostile, almost fatal country,” wrote Bruce Smith of Syracuse University. “After Dark makes clear that Recinos is a poet who has been gifted with an endless fount of benevolence and is guided by a faith rooted in love, humanity, and compassion,” wrote Jeffrey Lamar Coleman of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

News Perspective Online September 2021

Staff News

New Staff Person

Welcome to Jeanette Cordova, new administrative assistant for Perkins School of Theology’s Testimony HQ grant-funded initiative.






Obit: Phyllis Johnson

Phyllis Johnson, former administrative assistant at Perkins, died June 27 at the age of 92.  A celebration of life will be held at First United Methodist Church of Dallas, where she was a member, in October. Her obituary noted that Johnson, who retired at age 73, “truly enjoyed her career at SMU and considered it part of her ministry. She and John entertained students from all over the world in their home. She was quite the hostess and welcomed many into the loving and warm home that she made.” In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church Music and Arts Ministry, 1928 Ross Ave., Dallas, TX 75201. Read her obituary here.

News Perspective Online September 2021

Alumni/ae News

Perkins Grad Launches Brewery

Betsy Lay (M.T.S. ’09) was featured in a news story on CBS Saturday about Lady Justice, an all-female owned brewery in Colorado, which “aims to turn great beer into a better world.” Only 7.5% of brewers in the U.S. are women, and just 2% of breweries in the country are all-female-owned, according to the report. The three women who founded the brewery met while serving in AmeriCorps. Watch the news story here. Lay was also recently featured in a podcast, Sandi Klein’s Conversations with Creative Women.


New Book by Kim Meyers

The Rev. Kim Meyers (M.A.M. ’15) weaves together the threads of wisdom, faith and perspective in her book Parenting with Perspective (Invite Press, October 2021).  “In a world that validates perfection, Meyers’ is a fresh voice and friend for parents in every season of child-rearing,” according to a press release. Meyers is associate pastor of family ministry and community outreach at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano. The book is available for preorder here.

News article highlights Kelly Krone

The Rev. Kelly Krone (M. Div. ’06, D. Min. ’15) was interviewed recently for a feature in the Texarkana Gazette, “Pastor takes circuitous path to Linden ministry.” The article describes how Krone made a midlife career change into ministry after working for 20 years in the steel industry. However, he felt destined to ministry most of his life.  When he was born in the 1960’s, he was not expected to survive; his parents even purchased a burial plot for him.  “Years later when I had made the decision to become a minister, my mother told me she made a plea. ‘Take him for what you will but let him live,’” he said.

Gienger Interviewed

The Rev. Michael Gienger (M.Div. ’17) was recently featured in an interview in the Galveston County Daily News.  Gienger is pastor of Galveston Central Church. The interview highlights his work in the community and notes three recent awards: Small Membership Church of the Year (2019) presented by the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; the Kick-Ass Pastor Award (2020) presented by Galveston Central Church; and a Citizen of the Year finalist (2021) – presented by The Daily News.


Q&A with Gun Violence Pastor

The Rev. Deanna Hollas (M. Div., ’15) was recently interviewed for The Presbyterian Outlook for a Q&A, “The current landscape of gun violence.” In 2019, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ordained Hollas as the nation’s first gun prevention minister – she serves as gun violence prevention coordinator for Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. Hollas discussed American attitudes toward firearms and soaring gun sales during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the Q&A here.

Stephen Ling New Book

Stephen Ling (M.Th ’68), a retired college professor, is now working on his ninth book, tentatively titled Bonsai Kids, based on his seven years as a visiting professor in mainland China. “Many Chinese mothers are raising their kids like a gardener a bonsai tree,” he said. “I am hoping to return to China sometime this year to finish my book. I have asked many friends, former students in China to share their stories as Bonsai Kids, born during the one-child policy which ended in 2016.” The Chinese government has just passed a new law to encourage families to have three children, as the government is struggling with the growing aging populating, low fertility rate and labor shortage, but many women are rejecting that option. Ling can be reached at or on Facebook He would love to hear from former classmates and friends at Perkins.

Commentary by Shandon Klein

A commentary by Shandon Klein (M. Div. ’21) was recently featured on, titled “Do we need the institution to do church?” When Klein hears the word “institution,” she can’t help but think of its negative characteristics. It occurs to her that many people have the same reaction to the word “church.” Klein, a ministry associate at First United Methodist Church Richardson, asks, as an institutional church, “are we truly creating disciples of Jesus Christ or are we simply creating disciples of our institutional standards and policies?” Read the commentary here. 

Union Coffee Panel Discussion

For the first time since Union coffeehouse and community center moved to the Oak Lawn neighborhood, all the pastors on the block of Cedar Springs Drive and Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas are now women; two of them have Perkins ties. In celebration of this news, Union hosted a panel discussion on August 21 with Katie Newsome (M.Div. ’16) from Union Coffee, Isabel Marquez of Gracia Viva church, a former Administrative Assistant at Perkins’ Hispanic/Latin@ Ministries Program and the Course of Study School, along with Rachel Griffin Baughman and Kaitlyn Elizabeth Frantz of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church. Former Union community curator Rev. Dr. Baranda J. Fermin, now Lead Pastor at Life in Deep Ellum, served as moderator.

Seungli You Profiled in News Story

The Rev. Seungli You (M.Div. ’19), associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in Kearney, Neb., was profiled in a news story. He and senior pastor Matt Fowler took over the reins of the church on July 1. Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, You came to the U.S. in 2016 to study at Perkins, then served at a church in McCool Junction.  Read the story in the Kearney Hub here.


Obit: The Rev. Mary Elizabeth “Patsy” Brundige

The Rev. Mary Elizabeth “Patsy” Brundige, age 88, passed away in Dallas on August 3. She received her undergraduate degree at SMU, and years later returned to Perkins to earn an M. Div. in 1986. Brundige was ordained in the United Methodist Church in 1986 and served churches in Dallas, Carrollton, and East Texas. She maintained an active affiliation with Oaklawn United Methodist Church in Dallas and then with her community at C.C. Young. After her husband Virgil died young of lung cancer in 1989, she wrote Hope for a Widow’s Shattered World and In Touch with Now: An Uncommon Celebration, a book of poetry and meditations. She also led grief groups for widows. A memorial service celebrating her life was held on August 7 at Preston Hollow United Methodist Church in Dallas. Donations may be made in Patsy’s honor to: Heifer International “In Memory of Patsy Brundige” by mailing to Heifer Foundation, P.O. Box 8058, Little Rock, AR 72203. Read her obituary here.

Obit: James E. Dorff

James E. Dorff (M. Th. ’72) a former United Methodist bishop remembered for his ability to bring people together, died June 7 after a three-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was 73. As bishop, Dorff helped lead the formation of what is now the Rio Texas Conference — bringing together the formerly separate Southwest and Rio Grande conferences into a single, bilingual regional body. Dorff also guided various denomination-wide ministries. He helped launch Imagine No Malaria — the United Methodist initiative to combat the deadly disease in Africa. He also served as president of the denomination’s Board of Higher Education and Ministry for nearly four years. Memorial services were held at Highland Park UMC on June 18 and at First UMC McKinney on June 25. The Dorff family suggest anyone wishing to make a gift do so to Lydia Patterson Institute Chapel Fund. Cards/notes may be sent to Barbara Dorff at:  10031 Apple Creek Drive, Dallas, TX  75253. Read his UMNS obit here.

 Obit: The Rev. Verlon E. Feller

The Rev. Verlon Eli Feller (M. Div. ’52) died July 28 at age 93.  As a Methodist minister he was a caring pastor, a spiritual preacher, a leader, and he loved the people in his churches which he served for 50 years. His first appointment was Lexington, Texas; he also served churches in Franklin, Quitman, East Bernard, Gilmer, Athens, Houston West University, Texarkana Hardy Memorial, and then Port Neches where he lived at the time of his retirement. Feller was involved in his community, serving in men’s service clubs, the chamber of commerce and PTA. He was a member of the Tyler Coin Club, and he was a stamp collector from age 10 until his death. He received the lifetime membership award from the American Philatelic Association. A celebration of his life was held at the Gilmer First United Methodist Church on August 9. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be given to the First United Methodist Church, Gilmer, or the church or charity of your choice. Read his obituary here.

Obit: The Rev. Ben F. Jordan

The Rev. Ben F. Jordan (M. Th. ’52) passed away on August 16. Before retiring, he served churches in the Arkansas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, including Houston Bigelow, Van Buren, Monette, Jonesboro Huntington, Osceola, Newport First, Conway First, North Little Rock First, and Central-Fayetteville, as well as Conway District Superintendent and Paragould District Superintendent. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Notes of condolences may be sent to: Marie Jordan, 3 Shepherd’s Cove #117, Little Rock, AR 72205.  Read his obituary here.

Obit: The Rev. Larry Nicholson

The Rev. Larry Nicholson (M.Th. ’69) passed away in Dallas on June 20 at age 78. Nicholson was ordained as a Deacon in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1969, became an Elder in 1971 and ministered to churches throughout North Texas. Larry is survived by his wife of 52 years, Rebie (Comb) Nicholson, two sons, his brother and eight grandchildren. A Service of Witness to the Resurrection was held at Northridge Presbyterian Church on June 24. Read his obit here.