News Perspective Online September 2020

Student News

Steven James Wins GCAH Award

Steven James
June 18, 2016
Izamal, Yucatan

Steven James (M. Div. ’21) has been named the winner of this year’s John Harrison Ness Memorial Award from the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH). The Commission offers the annual award to M. Div. students in United Methodist seminaries who submit papers on aspects of Methodist history.  James’s paper, The Conferences of Missions and Missionary Boards Working in Mexico: The Road to Autonomy, was written for Professor Ted Campbell’s United Methodist History course in December 2019.

James did primary research on the records from 1910-1939 of ecumenical movements as well as ten mainline Protestant denominations and their succeeding work in Mexico. Among the denominations were the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The goal was to change their missionary model in Mexico and produce a new plan to carry out in Mexico. However, none of the delegates were Mexican. “The Conference of Missions and Missionary Boards believed themselves experts of Mexican culture, and capable enough to carry out the plan without Mexican input,” James wrote. Not surprisingly, efforts to establish self-sustaining Methodist churches in Mexico were slow; conference leaders called for the development of strong church leaders, unaware that strong leaders were already active in the Mexican church. “The discrepancy between the decisions by the Conference and the work done by Mexican church leaders shows a lack of understanding between the assessments of the Conference and the viewpoints of the Mexican leaders,” James wrote.

James’s interest in the topic was spurred by several trips to Mexico, first as an undergraduate student in journalism at the University of North Texas and later to visit friends there. The first-place award includes a $500 prize.  This year, James is a Communications and Development Intern at Wesley-Rankin Community Center in Dallas and is President of L@s Seminaristas.


Summer Entrepreneurs

Students and others in the Perkins community with an interest in non-traditional ministries participated in a variety of learning opportunities this summer.

Three Perkins students — Kay Smeal, Collin Yarbrough, and Rachel Mumaw — attended Creator Institute, a 20-week virtual program designed to take participants from ideation to a publishing deal. Based on Georgetown Professor Eric Koester’s award-winning Book Creators course, the Creator Institute programs are open to high school, college, and graduate students as well as working professionals.  Each author in the program is paired with a professional editor who offers coaching and writing feedback.   Creator Institute and Professor Koester have set an ambitious goal to help 10,000 authors in the next 10 years; the open course is designed to make the book creation and publishing experience accessible to all.

The Perkins students learned of the Creator Institute by way of Jennifer Ebinger from Incubator@SMU, a dedicated workspace encouraging the formation and growth of new organizations on the SMU campus. The Incubator welcomes all types of entrepreneurial enterprises, including profit or not-for-profit, technology-based businesses as well as products or services.

During the summer, the Incubator hosted three sessions of the Summer ELAUNCH series for Ministry Entrepreneurs, aimed at students and others interested in developing non-traditional ministries such as a coffee shop or pub church.

Jim Hart, director of the Arts Entrepreneurship program at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, led an ideation workshop. (Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.) Hart has created many experiential entrepreneurship exercises that are used at universities across the U.S. Among those attending this event were Perkins students, the Rev. Dr. Blair Thompson-White (D. Min. 2018, M.Div. 2012) and Tom Locke of Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF), and

In addition, Professor Jake Batsell of Meadows led “Intro to the BUSINESS CANVAS,” with tips on developing a plan to navigate from ideation to startup, and Karen Leeseberg of SMU Libraries led “Beyond Google & Effective Market Research,” providing tips for ministry entrepreneurs on conducting research for non-profit ventures.