Through a new Perkins initiative, students, faculty and staff are discovering fresh, meaningful ways to both learn and serve throughout North Texas.
Dean Craig C. Hill launched the effort in 2017 with the appointment of Tracy Anne Allred as assistant dean of student life and director of community engagement.
Her mandate, she said, was to seek new opportunities for Perkins “to engage in meaningful ways with a wide range of creative, entrepreneurial and vital ministries.”
Under her guidance, Perkins students have volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank, the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, the Aberg Center for Literacy at Casa Linda United Methodist Church in East Dallas and the Wesley-Rankin Community Center, a nonprofit that promotes education in underserved neighborhoods of West Dallas.
And on Jan. 15 of this year, Perkins students, staff and faculty joined their SMU peers by marching in the city of Dallas’ 36th annual parade honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (They didn’t just march; they also handed out information about King’s celebrated 1966 visit to SMU.)
It’s one more example, Hill said, of Perkins leading by serving.
“There is great wisdom available to the church in Perkins, but there is also great wisdom available to Perkins in the church,” he said. The greater Dallas area — like that of Houston, where Perkins operates an extension program — includes “an extraordinary number and range of vibrant, innovative and fruitful ministries,” the dean said.
“This is a phenomenal asset for our students, who can benefit enormously from these examples. But first they have to make the connection, to become aware of what is out there, and to find ways to engage with it.”
Allred added: “If prospective students knew they could enroll in a world-class school of theology with an outstanding faculty and top-notch library resources and, on top of all that, understand that they will have the chance to experience the church working in the ever-changing world in so many dynamic ways, it may make their decisions to join the Perkins student body easier.”
And more fruitful.
“Already,” Hill said, “this work has begun to make a vital contribution to our students’ experience at Perkins.”