In May 2021, Perkins School of Theology announced the appointment of two new holders of two endowed chairs: Dr. Rebekah Miles as the Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology and Ethics and Dr. Ted Campbell as the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies. Both appointments began on June 1, 2021, but the formal installation of the two chairs will take place at a special ceremony on Monday, September 26, at Perkins.
Not only do the two chairs involve professorial positions — the new chairholders will each receive an engraved desk chair as part of the formal installation ceremony. Miles and Campbell will also each deliver a lecture on a topic of their choosing as part of the installation.
The event begins at 2 p.m. with a special introduction by Randy Maddox, who is William Kellon Quick Professor Emeritus of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity School. Maddox will provide a brief introduction on Outler and Susanna Wesley, and their connections to Perkins’ Wesleyan heritage. Maddox served as co-author of Wesley and the Quadrilateral, along with Miles, Campbell, Scott Jones and Stephen Gunter. He serves as general editor of the Wesley Works Editorial Project, which Perkins has been participated in since its inception in 1960.
A lecture by Rebekah Miles will begin at 2:15 p.m., followed by a lecture by Ted Campbell at 3 p.m. entitled “The Evolution of John Wesley’s Commitments to Celibacy.” The program will conclude with the 4 p.m. installation and reception.
The installation is open to the public and will take place in Perkins Chapel, with the reception following at Bridwell Library. Attendees may join remotely via livestream on YouTube. A recording will also be available afterward at the same link.
Dr. Rebekah “Beka” Miles, Professor of Ethics and Practical Theology, was appointed Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology and Ethics, a chair vacated by Dr. Evelyn Parker, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who retired in 2021, and who was named inaugural holder of the chair in 2015. The chair was established in 2014 by a $2.5 million gift made by an anonymous donor through the Texas Methodist Foundation. It honors Susanna Wesley, frequently referred to as “the mother of Methodism.” Her sons, John and Charles Wesley, led a revival within the 18th century Anglican Church that sparked the emergence of global Methodism generally and the Methodist Episcopal Church in the American colonies. Historians point to the “practical divinity” embraced by Susanna and her sons John and Charles after her.
Dr. Ted Campbell, Professor of Church History, was appointed Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies. The late Rev. Dr. William J. Abraham held the chair from 1995 until his retirement in 2021. The chair was established in 1982 in honor of Albert Cook Outler (1908 – 1989), a longtime faculty member at Perkins as well as a distinguished Methodist theologian and philosopher. Outler made crucial contributions to the scholarship of John Wesley including a critical selection of John Wesley’s work published in the Library of Protestant Thought which led to his leadership in the Wesley Works editorial project, now The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley. Funding for the chair was provided by the Texas Annual Conference. The chair is dedicated to promoting the study of John Wesley, as well as his brother Charles Wesley and other leading Methodist thinkers.