To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, April has been the strangest month. The Dallas campus is eerily empty. With all Dallas campus classes moved online, members of the Perkins community improvised ways to keep learning moving along and community connection strong.
Summer 2020 courses at Perkins have also moved online, including the Course of Study School classes and the Houston-Galveston hybrid classes. May 16 remains the official graduation date, but commencement ceremonies have been postponed until August. General Conference and many Annual Conference have been cancelled or moved online; Perkins is making plans to have a presence where possible.
Meanwhile, students, alumni, faculty and other community members are finding ways to serve and support others.
Kathy Hines: Stitching for Safety
When Kathy Hines (M. Div., ’20) learned of the need for surgical masks for medical professionals, she started sewing.
First, she heard from her sister, a nurse in Minnesota, who told her that supplies were scarce and she could use more masks. Hines made 60, boxed them up and mailed them. Next she heard from a college friend in Jacksonville, Tenn., who works at a nursing home and needed masks. Hines made 40 and sent those off. She also heard from fellow students at Perkins who needed masks and filled their requests too. More went to friends and relatives in Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Missouri. All told, Hines has made and donated some 300 masks in March and April to people in eight states.
She calls sewing her Zen – a way of cultivating serenity during stressful times.
“Sewing calms my spirit and gives me peace,” she said. “Knowing there were people who needed these masks, that gave me purpose.”
Hines, a certified candidate on the ordination track to become an elder in the United Methodist Church, has been sewing for more than 30 years and also worked in the medical industry. She owns a company called Mommy Scrubbs, which makes a patented garment for breastfeeding moms who work in medical settings. Hines has temporarily retooled that business to make surgical masks, which are available for sale at MommyScrubbs.com.
Sharing Digital Tips
To help ministers stay connected during the pandemic, the Perkins School of Youth Ministry (PSYM) is offering a series of online webinars and other resources. On April 23, Perkins alum Victoria Sun Esparza (M.Div., ‘19) led a webinar on “Designing Digital Spaces for Youth Ministry,” with insights on engaging all the senses through digital platforms, curating an authentic fun emotional space online and imagining new opportunities. (Learn more about her work at inthewater.co.) Other April webinars included Dr. Terry Parsons with “Crisis Counseling for Youth Ministry in COVID-19” and Sam Halverson leading “Youth Leadership for a Quarantine Season.” Upcoming webinars: on May 6, 12:30 p.m. to 1:40 p.m., “Organizing Your Ministry in the Midst of Chaos” with Michelle Moore. (Space is limited; registration is required.) Later in the month, Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education at Perkins, will lead “Creative Teaching Principles for Digital Environments.” Date and details TBA; follow the Facebook page for updates. PSYM has also put together 10 free sample lessons which youth leaders may use to lead digital studies during the quarantine. Visit http://www.perkinsyouth.com/resources to download the lessons, access the recorded webinars and find more information.
In a typical year, Perkins sends representatives and hosts alumni gatherings at annual conferences in Texas and nearby states, as well as General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference. However, 2020 has been far from typical.
General Conference, scheduled for May 5-16, has been postponed until 2021. South Central Jurisdictional Conference, originally slated for July 15-18, has also been postponed.
Most of the Annual Conferences in which Perkins normally participates have been moved online or rescheduled to a later date in the late summer or early fall: North Texas (September 18-19); Arkansas (June 13 – online); California-Nevada (September 18-21); Florida (September 19, location TBA); Oklahoma Indian Missionary (August, details TBA); Tennessee (September 18-19); Oklahoma (May 27 online, and November 20-21 in person); and Texas (August 14-15).
Currently, the Central Texas Annual Conference is still on for June 14-17, but a tentative date of August 9-11 has been set should the event be rescheduled. The Desert Southwest conference, scheduled for June 11-14, has not made alternative plans but attendees are asked to hold those dates for a possible online event. Great Plains will hold a one-day business meeting online on May 30, with the conference convening Oct. 1-4. The Rio Texas and Louisiana Annual Conferences have postponed but have not yet set new dates. The Missouri Annual Conference will livestream a pre-conference briefing on May 28, followed by a virtual clergy session on June 5, then a one-day clergy and lay session slated for a Saturday in August, details TBA. Northwest Texas and New Mexico will hold a joint Annual Conference on August 15 in Lubbock.
Perkins staff is following the situation and will join where possible, whether online or at one-day meetings. Special events for alumni in each conference are also under consideration. Details will be posted as they become available.