When he was 15, Christian S. Watkins’ family transferred from another congregation to St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in Dallas, then under the pastorage of the Rev. Dr. Zan W. Holmes, Jr. It was a transformative moment in his life.

“My family just needed a place to grow and St. Luke was that place,” Watkins said. “Zan’s love for the people and for the word were inspiring.”

It just seemed natural, when it came time for graduate school, to follow in Holmes’ footsteps and chose Perkins School of Theology. Watkins, 35, is now in his fourth and final year in the Master of Divinity program, with a concentration in urban ministry, and pursuing a Deacon’s order in the North Texas Conference.

“Zan Holmes had the theological acumen and the growth that happens here, and I wanted it to be a part of me, too,” he said. “It’s been refreshing to see the diversity and the richness of voices here at Perkins, not just for my theological development but also from a social standpoint. It’s good to have voices that are not like mine.”

On top of his studies, Watkins works for justice through a number of projects on campus and beyond. He’s been leading efforts to pursue the initiation of a Citizen Police Review Board in the city of Dallas, served on the Justice in Action Committee of the Perkins Student Association, and with Faith in Texas, a multi-racial, interfaith movement for economic and racial justice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Currently, he’s interning with the Zip Code Connection, a North Texas Conference initiative that seeks to bring economic opportunity and community wholeness to 75215, the zip code located in the South Dallas and Fair Park neighborhoods.

The decision to enter ministry followed ten years of what Watkins calls “flailing” in the corporate world. Now, his path feels certain.

“I want to work for the elevation of minorities in the light of God,” he said. “The prophet Micah (6:8) reminds us of our duty to God and community — making justice happen, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God. That’s what I aspire to do every day.”