Many faculty members are challenged to stay connected with the “outside” world beyond the walls of academia. For Charles “Chuck” Aaron, the challenge tends to run in the opposite direction. As co-director of the Intern Program at Perkins, he has been — at least until the pandemic struck –out and about, visiting churches and other institutions where students were interning or may intern in the future.
“My bigger challenge has been keeping up with the academic world,” he said.
Still, Aaron seems fairly productive in the scholarly realm. He has published two books recently and is working on another. In September, Wipf and Stock released Preaching in/and the Borderlands, which Aaron co-edited along with J. Dwayne Howell.
“The book arose out of a panel presentation that we sponsored in 2016 at the Society of Biblical Literature,” he said. (At the time, Aaron was chair of the SBL’s program unit in Biblical studies and homiletics.) “Afterward, Dr. Howell and I decided that the papers submitted for the panel needed to be available beyond that presentation. The book offers a variety of perspectives on preaching and immigration and It fills a need, because I’m not aware of anything else out there like it. We think this can be a valuable resource for the church and very timely.”
Cokesbury also recently published a Bible study that Aaron wrote, with the theme of Encounter and focusing on salvation and what it means through example and explanation.
Aaron is also working on co-editing yet another book, on preaching and the wisdom literature, a festschrift for Alyce McKenzie. It’s a collection of essays and sermons contributed by colleagues and friends as a celebration of her career. Several Perkins faculty members are involved in the project. Jaime Clark-Soles is co-editor; O. Wesley Allen is a contributor. Professor emeritus John C. Holbert contributed a chapter, and Angel J. Gallardo contributed a sermon.
An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Aaron also preaches by invitation. That was more frequent before COVID, but he’s scheduled to speak on October 11 at Casa Linda United Methodist in Dallas. Aaron is a Perkins grad himself, having earned his M.Div. in 1985, in addition to his B.A. from Lambuth College, a master’s in counseling at the University of Memphis and a Ph.D. at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va.
Before the pandemic changed everything, Aaron spent much of his time visiting the churches and other agencies or institutions where Perkins students served in internships. This year, it’s all happening by Zoom. Among the places he’s shepherded Perkins interns: Dallas Bethlehem Center, a ministry in South Dallas where the intern worked with children of color on lower socioeconomic scale; United Methodist Women in New York, where the intern was based and traveled around the country giving presentations on various issues of UMW concerns; and the North Texas Conference’s Zip Code Project, where the student worked in a Dallas area neighborhood where poverty is most concentrated.
“This job has afforded me the opportunity to meet many different pastors and learn about a wide variety of ministries, including hospitals, nonprofit ministries and many different kinds of churches,” he said.
Biblical Studies. Apocalyptic Literature, Prophets. Pentateuch. Preaching from the Old Testament. Prophetic Preaching, Prophetic Ministry. Homiletics.
Favorite Bible Verse
Isaiah 55:10-11: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Said Aaron: “That verse has sustained me in ministry all along. I trust that, the work we do, God will use it for something.”
Book on His Nightstand Now
The Julian Way by Justin Hancock, a history of the church’s ministry with persons who are differently abled. (Hancock, a Perkins grad, is an ordained deacon and uses a wheelchair.)
Fantasy Dinner Party
Aaron would invite Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimmy Carter, the martyred Bishop Óscar Romero and the late virtuoso classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. “I’d ask them, ‘How, in the midst of all the injustice of the world, do you keep from giving in to despair?” he said. “How do you keep going in the midst of frustration?” Three of the four guests experienced that challenge; Aaron added Segovia because he’s taking classical guitar lessons himself and speaks a little Spanish.
Wife Sandra Aaron is a computer programmer.
Aaron works out with a Soloflex exercise machine. In the past, he ran 5Ks, and hopes to get back into that again soon.
Question He’d Ask at the Pearly Gates
“How in the world are we all going to live together once we get up there? We’re so divided down here, how are we going to live in community up there?”
Personal Spiritual Practice
In addition to walking and exercising, Aaron enjoys singing hymns while playing the piano, but not with an audience. “I only do this where nobody can hear me,” he said. “I don’t sing that well.”
Something Most People Don’t Know About Him
In middle school, Aaron was a drummer in a Monkees cover band.