Gerry Hubbs has a favorite Bible passage. But in truth, it’s a three-word mantra that has truly sustained her in her journey at Perkins: “You got this.”
“I don’t know who said it, or where I heard it first,” Hubbs said. “But those words meant so much to me. When I came to Perkins, I had been out of school for more than 20 years. I left a good job. It took a lot to make that jump.”
Hubbs, 52, has been active in her local United Methodist Church since fourth grade, participating in small groups and music programs, and teaching Disciple Bible Study. But she first felt strong stirrings toward ministry in 2013, while visiting Wesley’s Chapel in London on a tour with her church’s handbell choir.
“At the time, I was contemplating whether to go to a different church or even another denomination,” she recalled. “But when I walked into Wesley’s Chapel, I had this unbelievable sense of home. I thought, ‘I’m supposed to be a part of the United Methodist Church.’ After coming home from the trip, I visited a smaller United Methodist church in town, and I felt God was saying to me that I could grow there and help others grow there.”
However, Hubbs wasn’t ready to make the leap into ministry. She had a good job, managing the testing and tutoring center at Polk State College in Florida.
“I knew I wanted to go away to school,” she said. “But my mom was in Florida and I didn’t want to leave her by herself.”
But then, in 2017, Hubbs’s mother passed away. Not long after, her sister turned to her and said, “Gerry, you can go to seminary now. That’s what Mama would want you to do.”
Things quickly fell into place. Hubbs sold her mother’s house within a few weeks. She started looking at seminaries. Perkins, she said, immediately felt like home.
“When I visited the campus, I saw such a sense of community among the students, staff and faculty,” she said. “I attended Dr. Lee’s class and he asked us to introduce ourselves. He even invited us to email him if we had questions.”
“Community was really important for me because I’m single, and I was moving to Dallas from Florida just to go to seminary. I didn’t know anyone in Dallas.”
Hubbs began her studies at Perkins in the fall of 2018, while still grieving the loss of her mother. She took advantage of the eight sessions of counseling that are available free to each SMU student – an option she wishes more students took advantage of.
“Because of that counseling, and because of the caring of the students, faculty and staff at Perkins, I was able to grieve,” she said.
At Perkins, Hubbs got involved in campus worship. She enjoyed daily lunch with fellow students at the Refectory. Last year, she was elected president of the Perkins Student Association and began focusing her efforts in two areas of student concern – parking and health insurance. Then the pandemic hit.
“It’s been a weird year,” said Hubbs.
Now Hubbs, a certified candidate for ordination in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, is devoting her third year to her Perkins internship, by serving in student appointments at two small congregations in north central Florida: First United Methodist of Reddick and Citra United Methodist. The two churches are about eight miles apart, between Gainesville and Ocala. In July, at the age of 52, she delivered her first sermon.
Asked to cite a favorite Bible verse, Gerry Hubbs would choose Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Those words ring true for Hubbs as she continues her later-in-life journey. But in moments of uncertainty, she still leans on those three words, heard early in her career at Perkins, for courage and confidence.
“You got this.”