Attendees traveled virtually, from 12 different states and one Canadian province, for “a day of seminary” at the Perkins Summit for Faith & Learning, held online March 19-20. With the theme “Looking Forward, Learning Together,” the program offered courses taught by five members of the Perkins faculty and an alumnus and was attended by a total of 133 people.

The Perkins Summit — formerly the Perkins Theological School for the Laity – has been held annually for several decades.

“Lay members as well as pastors and others have the opportunity to experience deep learning on theological, biblical and thematic topics taught by Perkins faculty, staff, and alums,” said Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean for External Programs and the event’s coordinator.

While many attendees were from Texas, others came from Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and British Columbia.

“While holding the event virtually was less than ideal, one advantage was that many people from a long distance away, who might not be able to afford the time or the cost travel to an in-person event on campus, were able to join us this year,” said Pope-Levison.

Also, by way of a first-time partnership, the program was made available to residents at C.C. Young, a senior living community in Dallas.   C.C. Young recently invested in a major upgrade of its audiovisual equipment and broadcasting infrastructure, given the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to have piloted participation in this year’s program virtually,” said Brian Parmer, a C.C. Young staff member.  “We were able to share both the full day and half day programs on both of our campus broadcast channels over the weekend, making programming accessible to anyone who cared to join in from the comfort of their own living room.”

The program’s schedule included Friday afternoon worship, livestreamed from St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Moore, designed the worship service, and the Rev. Leanna Coyle-Carr of Wilshire Baptist Church preached the sermon. The gathering concluded with Dean Craig C. Hill presenting the Seals Laity Awards to 2020 recipient Mary White and 2021 recipients Nancy Seay and Lisa Tichenor. Many attendees commented positively on the worship service and Seals Award presentation.

“It was inspiring and touched me in a deep way,” one attendee said.

Courses offered during the two-day event included “How to Read the Bible According to the Early Church Fathers” by James Kang Hoon Lee, Associate Professor of the History of Early Christianity and Director, Doctor of Ministry Program at Perkins; “An Unconventional God: The Holy Spirit According to Jesus,” taught by Jack Levison, W.J.A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew at Perkins; “Truth Telling in a Post-Truth World,” taught by Stephen Long, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics; and “How Do We Solve A Problem Like…Mary?” taught by Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology at Perkins; “Models of Evangelism,” taught by Pope-Levison; and “An Introduction to Black Liberation Theology,” taught by Ray Jordan, a Perkins alum and Adjunct Professor at SMU’s Simmons School of Education. The event closed on Saturday afternoon with Lectio Divina led by Ruben Habito, Professor of World Religions and Spirituality and Director of Spiritual Formation at Perkins.

In a post-event survey, attendees offered positive feedback on the experience.

“I just wanted to express how awesome PSFL was!” another attendee commented. “Even though we covered some “touchy” subjects, everything was just really uplifting.”