The Rev. Dr. Rebekah Miles isn’t happy with the current direction of politics, whether in our nation or in the United Methodist Church. But she’s not ready to give up on either battle. She’s politically active, both in secular politics and church politics.
If you live in Tarrant County, she might ask whether you’re registered to vote. As a deputy voter registrar in Tarrant County, she carries voter registration cards wherever she goes and hands them out whenever she can. She’s logged a lot of miles canvassing neighborhoods.
“Many young people, including those in African-American and Latinx communities, are not registered to vote,” she said. “I want to encourage them to participate in the system, regardless of how they might vote.”
Miles also participates actively in United Methodist church politics, having served five times as a clergy delegate from the Arkansas Conference. She’s busy now preparing for the next General Conference.
“I write and advocate for legislation, serve on strategy teams, write articles about the options before the United Methodist Church,” she said. “I was on the One Church strategy team before the last General Conference and have continued on another strategy team in preparation for the next.”
Two favorite Bible verses help guide her work and life: Ezekiel 36:26 (“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; I will take from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”)
“Like many Wesleyans, I think a lot about the power of the Spirit with us and the way God helps transform us,” she said. “All of us can try to keep that Spirit of God within us.”
At this point, she admits, it’s difficult to see how the Spirit is working in the denomination’s polity. Like many United Methodists, she’s frustrated by the current stalemate.
“At this point, I’ll take any way forward that works,” she said. “Anything that gets us somewhat out of the mess we’re in now.”
Ethics and theology, including United Methodist Doctrine; 20th century theological ethics; early Christian ethics; spiritual autobiography; feminist, womanist and mujerista theologies.
Wesleyan theology and ethics, ethics and family, clergy ethics, Georgia Harkness, Reinhold Niebuhr, Christian realism and feminist theology, death. Miles is currently writing articles on recent theological ethics in the U.S. and plans to return soon to a book project on the subject of death.
Book on Her Nightstand
Social Ethics in the Making by Gary Dorrien, The Responsible Self by H. Richard Niebuhr, Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson and The Eye of the World, part of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. A fan of fantasy novels, Miles also just finished Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea Cycle Series.
Fantasy Dinner Party
Miles would invite one or all of the three persons of the Trinity. Questions she’d ask to get the conversation rolling: “What has mattered in my life and the lives of people I love? You see a bigger picture than we do. Where have we screwed up? What has gone right? What went wrong but is being made right? Where have you been active in all of this?”
Miles said: “I am guessing there is good reason that we don’t and cannot know things like that, but I would still like to know. I’m curious. I like to think that at some point after we die, we will be given some insight about it.”
She’s been married almost 39 years to her husband the Rev. Len Delony, also a United Methodist clergy member. (Len is a 49-year cancer survivor who was treated at St Jude’s starting in 1970). The couple has two daughters: Anna, who turns 21 in October, a senior business major at Oklahoma City University, a United Methodist-affiliated liberal arts college; and Katherine, 19, a sophomore at SMU triple majoring in art history, English literature and education.
The Miles family has a lot of pets, maybe a few more than Rebekah Miles would prefer. “We have a 9-year-old chiweenie named Chancy,” she said, although the family prefers “Dachsu-wa-wa” over chiweenie. “Currently we are keeping our daughter’s 1-year-old cat, Cheeto, and we have a huge 15-year-old outdoor male cat named Cutie Kitty. My girls were 4 and 6 when they named him!”
The list goes on: Two bearded dragon sisters belonging to Anna named Noam (after Noam Chomsky) and Zelda (after Zelda Fitzgerald.) But the recent re-homing of a member of the Miles menagerie gives her hope.
“Last week we were praising God when our younger daughter gave her spotted leopard Gecko Ros (short for the scientist Rosalind Franklin) to a friend,” she said. “One pet down….”
Reading novels; UM church politics; walking. “Lately I’ve been doing a lot of scootering on SMU campus and trying to enlist others to scooter with me,” Miles said.
What You May Not Know About Her
Miles was a crack tuba player in junior high and high school and aspired to one day join the International Brotherhood of Tubists. She no longer plays the tuba but does daydream about again one day taking up another instrument she played in high school, the string bass.
“Gumbo. My family is Cajun. I also make a good court bouillon and red beans and rice.”
Personal Spiritual Practices
Most days, she tries to make time to read scripture; listen to music of faith; read three daily devotions; engage in silent contemplative meditation and prayer; write down a few key grace moments of the day before; engage in acts of mercy; and try to be a good citizen.
Said Miles: “I try, often unsuccessfully, to remember that most of the things I do over the course of a day – teaching, research, service to my school and church, care for family and pets — can be prayer. That’s true for all of us.”