Two New Chairs Highlight Perkins’ Wesleyan Connections

Two New Chairs Highlight Perkins’ Wesleyan Connections

DALLAS (SMU) – Perkins School of Theology announces the appointment of two new holders of two endowed chairs: Dr. Rebekah Miles as the Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology and Dr. Ted Campbell as the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies. Both appointments begin on June 1, 2021. The recommendations were made by Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill and supported by the unanimous vote of those holding chairs at the Perkins School of Theology.

“We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Miles and Dr. Campbell to continue the legacy of these two prestigious endowed chairs,” said Dean Craig Hill. “These two professors have been leaders in the Perkins community as well as outstanding scholars and teachers, and their appointments underscore Perkins’ abiding commitment to Methodist and Wesleyan studies.”

Dr. Rebekah “Beka” Miles, Professor of Ethics and Practical Theology, was appointed Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology, a chair recently vacated by Dr. Evelyn Parker, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who retires this semester, and who was named inaugural holder of the chair in 2015. The chair was established in 2014 by a $2.5 million gift made by an anonymous donor through the Texas Methodist Foundation. It honors Susanna Wesley, frequently referred to as “the mother of Methodism.” Her sons, John and Charles Wesley, led a revival within the 18th century Anglican Church that sparked the emergence of global Methodism generally and the Methodist Episcopal Church in the American colonies. Historians point to the “practical divinity” embraced by Susanna and her sons John and Charles after her.

Miles is an ordained elder in the Arkansas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and has served five times as a clergy delegate to the United Methodist General Conference. A recipient of Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology, Miles’ writes in the areas of Christian ethics, practical theology, and Wesley studies, including an edited collection of the works of Methodist practical theologian Georgia Harkness. She is now co-editing Volume 15: Domestic, Moral, Political, and Economic Writings in The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley.

Dr. Ted Campbell, Professor of Church History, was appointed Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies. Rev. Dr. William J. Abraham, who has held the chair since 1995, retires this semester. The chair was established in 1982 in honor of Albert Cook Outler (1908 – 1989), a longtime faculty member at Perkins as well as a distinguished Methodist theologian and philosopher. Outler made crucial contributions to the scholarship of John Wesley including a critical selection of John Wesley’s work published in the Library of Protestant Thought which led to his leadership in the Wesley Works editorial project, now The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley. Funding for the chair was provided by the Texas Annual Conference. The chair is designated to promoting the study of John Wesley, as well as his brother Charles Wesley and other leading Methodist thinkers.

Campbell is an ordained elder of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; a former president of the Charles Wesley Society (1999-2003); and a delegate to the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches in the USA (1992-2002).  Campbell served as the American Convenor for the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies in 2013 and as co-convenor of the Wesleyan and Methodist Studies Unit of the American Academy of Religion. His writings in Wesley Studies include having edited the third volume of John Wesley’s letters, and he is now editing the fourth volume for The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley.

Miles and Campbell have also worked closely together, including their co-authorship of Wesley and the Quadrilateral with Scott Jones, Randy Maddox, and Stephen Gunter.  They are also both John Wesley Fellows of A Foundation for Theological Education (AFTE).

Perkins is also saying farewell to Parker and Abraham, who are retiring after long and distinguished careers at Perkins.

Parker spent one of the last years of her Perkins career in South Africa as a 2019-2020 U.S. Fulbright Scholar, based at the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice and the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town. Her academic focus included religious identity and spiritual formation in African American adolescents, adolescents in sociopolitical movements and their understanding of vocation, adolescent resiliency and vocation. Parker helped spearhead the move of Perkins’s Houston/Galveston Program to the Houston Medical Center, where the program is now affiliated with the Houston Methodist Hospital (HMH), St. John’s UMC, and St. Paul UMC.  An active member of Kirkwood Temple CME Church in Dallas, Parker serves as a representative of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) denomination to the World Council of Churches. She has served in many roles throughout the CME connection.

Abraham has been a prolific author and sought-after lecturer. An ordained elder in the Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, he served on the General Commission on Unity and Interreligious Concerns of the United Methodist Church (1992-present). He was the recipient of Pew Evangelical Scholars Program Grant, Pew Charitable Trusts (1993-1996) and Joint Book of the Year Award from the Institute of Christian Studies for Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology (1999). In 2018, he was the recipient of the SMU Faculty Career Achievement Award for his remarkable career in teaching and scholarship with many contributions to Wesley studies, including a new edition of John Wesley’s Standard Sermons released in the last month by Wesley’s Foundery Books.

Following Bridwell Library’s acquisition of the massive resources of the World Methodist Historical Museum, and building on the existing Wesleyana and Methodistica collections at the Library, these appointments will make clear the commitment of Perkins School of Theology to leadership in Wesleyan and Methodist studies.


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Original story published at

New Podcast Focuses on Anti-Racism As Christian Discipleship

Contact: Jeehye Kim Pak, Communications Director
General Commission on Religion and Race, the United Methodist Church

“Expanding the Table,” a new video podcast series from the General Commission on Religion and Race, will debut on Tues., June 1, 2021. Series guests will focus on how individual Christians and church-based entities can and should engage the work of racial justice-making and anti-racism.

Guests for the first podcast—titled “Racism, Police Reform and Faith”—are the Rev. Kirk Lyons of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Rev. Jeremy Wicks of Traverse City, Michigan. Both United Methodist pastors are leading community-wide conversations and demonstrations that call attention to implicit and explicit racial bias experienced by Black and Brown people at the hands of police officers. Both are bringing together church, community, and law-enforcement members to seek solutions.

The Commission’s interim General Secretary, M. Garlinda Burton, says the new podcast series will offer deeper understanding of how racism harms both the church and society at large and how anti-racism and racial justice functions as an expression of Christian discipleship.

“‘Expanding the Table’ explains how people of faith can foster and practice anti-racism from the lens of followers of Christ. Religious and civic leaders will share practices and experiences that will inform and inspire Christians to live out their faith and bring the Word of God to bear on championing human and civil rights for all people,” Burton added.

As a white man, Wicks, a former police chaplain and reserve officer, says that he came to embrace movements like Black Lives Matter, after he “actually started listening to Black people in my community and witnessing how they were treated.” Wicks said the murder of George Floyd led him and members of his mostly white, United Methodist congregation to “open our eyes to the racism that was happening and work together for racial justice through police reform.”

Since 2008, Lyons has led men’s nighttime prayer walk through some of the most crime-ridden communities in New York, praying with and for gang members and drug dealers. As they established connections with the mostly Black and Brown men from the streets, Lyons say the churchmen began to hear stories, not just about how known criminals are treated, but how Black and Brown residents in general encountered and experienced the police.

“Too many police officers bring an indifference and fear of People of Color to the job, to the point that they don’t see us as human,” Lyons said. He and his group are now in conversations with law enforcement on the value of community policing, and having residents and police officers build relationships and trust with one another.

Lyons and Wicks will talk about their work as an outgrowth of their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and offer ideas for how Christian communities may learn more and get involved in local police reform and anti-racism efforts.

The first episode “Racism, Police Reform and Faith” will be available on Tues., June 1, 2021. Please visit for information on where to listen. This page will be updated.

The General Commission on Religion and Race is one of 12 church-wide agencies of the United Methodist Church. The Commission offers teaching resources, training and networking among Christians seeking to bring their faith to bear to dismantle racism, tribalism, and xenophobia in all forms. More information available at

Rev. James H. Lenderman Named 2021 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year

WILMORE, KY–The Reverend James H. Lenderman, Asbury Theological Seminary class of 1991, has been selected the Distinguished Alumnus of the year 2021.

Lenderman is a native of Carlisle, Ark., and a graduate of the University of Arkansas. A member of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, he has served pastorates at First United Methodist Church, Hot Springs; Parker’s Chapel/Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, El Dorado; First United Methodist Church, Prescott; Grace United Methodist Church, Conway; and Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Okla. He is currently senior pastor of Central United Methodist Church, Rogers, Ark.

Lenderman’s 30 years of ministry have been characterized by his devotion to God and his heart for God’s people. Persons who nominated him for this honor have noted his faithfulness in every church he has served, from small to large, and his emphasis on leading his people in the discipline and practice of prayer.

Last year Lenderman received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. His faithful witness is unwavering and he is facing his own death with courage and dignity.

Throughout his ministry, Lenderman has recommended Asbury Seminary to many, and his influence has encouraged many now serving in the ministry to receive their theological preparation there. He has also served on the Seminary’s Alumni Council.

The Asbury Seminary Distinguished Alumni award is designed to honor alumni who, in their personal lives and public ministries, exemplify its mission of preparing a theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world.

Lenderman and his wife, Beth celebrated 34 years of marriage this past December. They have two sons, Hayden (27), who is a worship leader, and Jordan (23), who is a financial planner.

Bishop Mueller’s Statement on Derek Chauvin Trial Verdict

April 21, 2021

George Floyd’s death was a watershed moment for many white Americans as we realized the true depth and breadth of racism. Today, a jury found the police officer guilty of murder. Justice, which is an essential component of healing, has been served. 

We have a long way to go on this journey and it is my firm conviction that those who accept Jesus as Savior and choose for him to be Lord of our lives should be trailblazers. I fervently pray we will continue our commitment as United Methodists in Arkansas to work diligently to dismantle the sin of racism and build God’s reconciliation.

Grace and peace,




Gary E. Mueller

Camp Tanako announces Confirmation Camp 2021

Confirmation Camp will be a Day Camp on May 1, 2021. Campers will rotate through 5 classes: What is Confirmation, The Trinity, John Wesley, The Sacraments, and Our Vow.  Classes are led by ARUMC pastors from around the state of Arkansas. Campers will rotate through outdoor classrooms for each topic, play camp games, eat lunch, and end the day with a worship service in the Outdoor Chapel. The cost for the day camp is $15 per person, and includes a workbook and lunch. Registration is open at For more information, call the camp office at 501-262-2600.

Covid-19 precautions are in place and the camp will follow the CDC guidelines at that time. Campers will go through temperature checks and wear masks, as well as be assigned to small groups, where social distancing will take place.

April 19 Webinar Will Explore Language’s Role in Race, Religion and Public Policy

DALLAS (SMU) – “Words Matter: The Intersectionality of Race, Religion and Public Policy”, a Zoom webinar, will be held at 7 p.m. on April 19, 2021. The event is sponsored by Perkins School of Theology’s Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions and the Department of World Languages and Literature at Dedman School of the Humanities and Sciences.

The webinar will host academicians as well as community leaders as they explore the power of language in the intersection of race, religion and public policy and will look at how that is reflected in the ways that different groups thrive while others remain marginalized. Participants will be invited to examine the impact of language – the power of words – through this lens.

Panelists include: Dr. Evelyn Parker, Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology, Perkins School of Theology, SMU; Dr. Alberto Pastor, Associate Professor of Spanish, Department of World Languages and Literature, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, SMU; Bill Holston, Executive Director, Human Rights Initiative, Dallas, Texas; Emily Timm, Co-Executive Director, Proyecto de Defensa Laboral/Workers Defense Project, Austin-Dallas-Houston; Rev. David Wilson, Assistant to the Bishop, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference; Shellie Ross, Executive Director, The Wesley-Rankin Community Center, Dallas, TX.

Two panelists – a linguist and a practical theologian – will offer new insights from their research. The other four panelists – all leaders of community agencies that empower marginalized communities for social change – will present human stories that highlight the impact of public policy that is shaped by the power of language used in religion, education, and community spaces.

Each panelist will offer individual comments, followed by a discussion between the panelists and a short Q&A.  Participants will also have the opportunity to offer reflections on the panelists’ presentation.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please register at


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The Department of World Languages and Literatures teaches eleven languages, including Ancient Greek, ASL, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. It offers four majors and eleven minors and is part of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, SMU’s school of liberal arts, which connects students with forward thinkers and global problem solvers through interdisciplinary education and partnerships that begin here, at the heart of the SMU campus, and extend globally.