Many students gravitate to Perkins as a path to parish ministry. But these three students are pursuing alternative ways to serve – and, they say, they’ve found a supportive environment at Perkins that’s helping them along the way.
Collin Yarbrough: Full Circle Bakery
Collin Yarbrough’s innovative ministry is based on a delicious concept: bake cookies and help others. Since 2012, he has been doing just that with a “for purpose” business called Full Circle Bakery. The bakery sources ingredients from Texas, as much as possible, to make cookies.
Proceeds from the sales of snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies (to name a few) go “full circle” back into nonprofit organizations in Texas.
“Supporting local businesses and local nonprofits gives us a sense of pride in our cookies, knowing not only do they taste good, they ultimately serve organizations providing crucial community services for those in need,” Yarbrough said.
After graduating in 2011 from Clarkson University with a dual degree in engineering, Yarbrough initially had little luck finding a job.
“I was frustrated because I had checked all the boxes, done all the right things and still couldn’t find a job,” he said. After praying for direction, “this very clear voice said to me, ‘I want you to start a nonprofit bakery.’” He teamed up with his mother, and soon, Full Circle Bakery was born. The bakery operated out of his family’s home until 2018, when Full Circle began renting commercial kitchen space at Gaston Christian Center in East Dallas.
Along the way, Collin got involved in Citysquare, an urban ministry in Dallas, and “I really fell in love with the way they approached fighting the root causes of poverty here in the city.”
That led to a partnership in 2016 with Citysquare, teaching baking skills to participants in Citysquare’s Culinary Workpaths program.
“They’re providing opportunities for people to get skills that will get them jobs with a trajectory,” he said. “When they jump into a kitchen, they have the ability to earn a living wage and really make some changes in their lives.”
Yarbrough did work as a pipeline engineer after graduation until April 2019, when he turned his full-time focus on the bakery and his part-time studies in Perkins’ M.T.S. program.
“The flexibility of the program was very attractive to me,” he said. “As a bakery owner and nonprofit owner, there are a lot of other skills I need outside of my theological training. What we’re really trying to do is to enhance how the bakery operates as a ministry to the least of these in Dallas.”
Thanks to that flexibility, he was able to take a course on Context and Impact of Design, offered through SMU’s Master of Arts in Design and Innovation (MADI) program.
“There’s no shortage of options at Perkins to engage in a broad range of ministry options,” Yarbrough said. “There are a lot of students who are studying to become pastors, but there’s also a ton of us who are doing what feels like wild and crazy things. That’s really exciting to me.”
Justin Barringer: Diapers Etc.
Barringer, a student in the graduate program in Religious Studies, leads this ministry at White Rock United Methodist Church’s missional campus, Owenwood Farm and Neighbor Space. Families visit the last Saturday each month to pick up diapers, feminine hygiene products, creams, wipes and other sanitary items.
Barringer and his wife, Rachel, discovered the idea while living in Kentucky. After seeing a news story about a diaper pantry that had been robbed, they started their own small diaper ministry there.
“We became passionate about the idea,” he said. “There aren’t government programs that provide diapers. If you don’t have disposable diapers, you can’t get your kids into subsidized daycare. If you can’t get daycare, you can’t work. There’s a whole constellation of problems that you help solve just by giving people diapers and hygiene products.”
The couple brought the idea to Dallas when they moved here for SMU. During the pandemic, the program is operating on a “drive-through” basis, but during normal times, families coming to pick up diapers can also take advantage of other services: health services, library services and assistance in signing up for food stamps, health insurance and other government benefits. McDonald’s has provided free breakfasts, and the North Texas Food Bank’s mobile food pantry, with fresh produce, has participated in the Saturday events. In December, there was a toy giveaway. The diaper pantry also creates opportunities for building community, Barringer adds.
“People from all over the place in our immediate area are coming and getting to know one another,” he said. “We started this about 2-1/2 years ago, and now we distribute about 20,000 diapers to about 200 families every month.”
Barringer says he has no ambitions to become ordained but is fascinated with the idea of unconventional ministry. He and Rachel also co-host Rogue Ministry Podcast, which interviews creative ministry leaders from around the world to help listeners create and sustain faithful ministries. (The May 27 episode, COVID and Being a Good Neighbor, featured the Rev. Kristina Roth-Klinck (M.Div. ’20) and her husband, Ryan Roth-Klinck (M.Div. ’18), on the topic of what it means to be a good neighbor in a time of social distancing.) At SMU, Barringer said, he feels supported on that path.
“Perkins interns who have come here to WRUMC and Owenwood are given a lot of leeway,” he said. “They’re not just expected to shadow a pastor. Instead, the program’s approach is, ‘What would you like to try? We’ll do our best to back you.’”
Barringer adds that the presence of many second-career students at Perkins and SMU helps foster innovation.
“Students bring knowledge of business, social work, law, whatever it is they came from,” he said. “It’s a really good incubator for folks of different backgrounds and skills to come together.”
Cheryl Roseborough: Self Esteem Elevated
Cheryl Roseborough’s purpose in life is to help people live life on purpose with purpose – as God intended. That’s the mission of Self Esteem Elevated (SEE), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to spiritual education, empowerment and prayer that began 14 years ago.
“SEE empowers women and men, from a faith-based perspective, to walk in the purpose that God has intended for them,” she said. “It’s about knowing your worth, knowing you’re not invisible and knowing that God sees you, and really getting to the core of what issues you’re having with your self-esteem so you can push past them.”
Roseborough initially focused on ministering to women, but in the last few years has involved men who’ve expressed an interest in the prayer calls and other events she offers. She now has a weekly podcast, called Elevated Life: Wisdom That Transforms, which can be heard on all podcast outlets. She has hosted a quarterly event, called Naomi Speaks, which gathers female entrepreneurs and corporate executives for prayer breakfasts and mutual encouragement. With the pandemic putting a pause on all live events, the platform moved to their live-streaming channel, selfesteemelevated.tv, which officially launches on July 15.
“This has been an amazing platform for women in business to share insight and wisdom on living life with purpose,” she said. “These women are open, honest and transparent in sharing their stories of redemption.”
Roseborough completed her M.A.M., with an emphasis on Spiritual Direction, in May. She came to Perkins to get a solid academic grounding for her ministry.
“Perkins helped me to go deeper into the Word, contextually and systematically. I now look at Scripture through a different lens,” she said.
Roseborough’s journey to this ministry began in 1999, when she suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her third child. She turned to her home church in Tulsa, OK, for support and healing. With that support, she found the courage to come back to Dallas and eventually launch her own advertising agency in 2000. Blyss Agency creates brand experiences for influential, culturally diverse consumers among luxury clients such as BBVA, Park Place Lexus, Hendricks Gin and others. Having her own business, in turn, gave her the flexibility to devote time to Self Esteem Elevated.
“I started this in 2006 in my home with 22 women who were encouraging me, and many of them still support me to this day,” she said. “We believe everyone has the ability to walk in healing and wholeness.”
Roseborough’s passion for helping women extends beyond Self Esteem Elevated. For the past 11 years, she has hosted an annual dinner, called Launch A Legacy, benefiting families of Brighter Tomorrows, a shelter for women affected by domestic abuse. For that, she was honored in 2018 as Brighter Tomorrows’ Volunteer of the Year.
Roseborough says struggles in her own life have given her a passion to help others who find themselves in periods of difficulty.
“People are looking for hope,” she said. “God has allowed SEE to be the hope for those who have and may have never stepped into the four walls of the church. I want to encourage everyone and make sure people have that connection to God daily so they live a life of wholeness. That is the heart of what we do.”