By Rev. Margot Perez-Greene, Ph.D.
These current times appear to be opportunities to tell our stories well and to strive to reach deep into the places where our story connects with individuals called to ministry who are worshiping, serving, and searching for schools of theology. Perkins is a place where individuals are provided the freedom to stretch, learn, and grow in the school’s sacred spaces: the classroom, community events, worship, and study groups.
The reason this story is so important now is largely due to unpredictability that we are facing—the aftereffects of the pandemic and uncertainty about the future of the UMC. Prospective students are asking us the tough questions: Will I be accepted at Perkins? Will the Perkins community recognize my religious affiliation and receive my views? Is Perkins still affiliated with the United Methodist Church? Will my conservative or liberal beliefs be welcome at the table? The answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes!
We are a community of faithful believers who are striving to follow and emulate the example of Jesus. We are a community that welcomes faithful believers to the table of religious and cultural difference so that we can learn from each other and go out into the world to make a difference for Christ. We are a community that knows our graduates will encounter difference in their lives and ministries and are doing our best to prepare them for fruitful and compassionate outcomes wherever they may find themselves. And we are learning that our graduates are finding themselves in places where they serve as worship leaders, Christian educators, hospital chaplains, ethical leaders in the community, and lay persons strengthening the leadership teams of the church.
Why Perkins now? Here’s what members of our new fall 2021 incoming class had to say:
“I was told that Perkins was a community that welcomed difference of culture and religious thought and affiliation, and I found that it was so. That really impressed me.”
“At Perkins, they teach you everything and let you make your own decisions.”
“I wanted a school that embraced racial reconciliation, which has become a passion of mine. I am getting a strong immersion into this topic, and for that I am grateful.”
“Perkins did a great job of reaching out to prospective students.”
“The Saving Grace book study Perkins offered (through its Financial Literacy program) was a great way to start my first year at seminary. It helped me be intentional about my spending and renewed in the areas of commitments I had made in tithing and giving.”
“When I asked about the tone of the community, the recruitment staff expressed that all were welcome. It’s really true!”
“My greatest struggle was finances. Perkins was compassionate, willing to educate me and brainstorm together with me where I could find resources.”
“We are taught by a world-class faculty who are teaching introduction classes and all others.”
We are asking that you share these remarks as “talking points” as you speak to prospective students.
A theology school that provides academic rigor and an outstanding faculty is important. Many schools of theology do just that, including Perkins. What we are finding is that prospective students are also looking for a hospitable learning community where their voices can be heard, and differences expressed with freedom, care, and safety. This is the reason for “Why Perkins Now.”
We are asking, now more than ever, for you to share Perkins — who we are, and what our students are saying. Together we are better, and we look to you to send us prospective students who can come and experience first-hand all that Perkins has to offer.
Grace and peace be with you,