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

Bishops Reconsider May 8 Special Session of General Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C.  –  The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church met on Monday, March 22, 2021 in an additional meeting to consider pressing matters  related to the Council’s work.  After much conversation, the bishops reached a decision that in the best interest of the church at this time, they would cancel the Special Session of the General Conference which was set for May 8, 2021.

The bishops announced that they will dedicate their regularly scheduled April meeting to conversation based on results of listening sessions that are occurring and discern a possible need for a new timeline toward General Conference 2020 set for August 29 to September 6, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

At the April meeting, the bishops will also discuss ways to empower the work at the Jurisdictional and Central Conferences. 

“Much has been learned over the past few weeks and the extended timeline will allow for even deeper listening by the bishops at the general church level but also in our residential settings,” said Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the Council.  “We are thankful for the collaboration fostered with the Commission on General Conference and especially grateful for the work that had already begun in the planning for the Special Session,” Bishop Harvey added.


Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Bishop Mueller Updates COVID-19 Guidelines, Announces New FAQ Tab on Website

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (March 19, 2021) – Since March 2020, when the first reported case of COVID-19 appeared in Arkansas, Bishop Gary Mueller of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church has worked with health care professionals, conference leaders and staff to provide clear and concise guidelines for safe gatherings for Arkansas United Methodist Churches. 

The ARUMC “Stages” worked well for our local churches and were very helpful to their Boards of Trustees as they navigated safely during the pandemic. However, because of new data that has recently been released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the coronavirus and vaccines, as well as the increasing number of vaccines administered and declining COVID cases and deaths, Bishop Mueller is updating guidelines. 

“Our pastors and laity have demonstrated outstanding leadership in ‘doing no harm’ and keeping people safe. I am removing the “Stages” guidelines that were applicable to the entire conference in order to better allow local churches to determine, based upon their individual contexts, what is best for the safety of their congregations.” Bishop Mueller stated.

“I will continue to insist that persons attending in-person church events wear masks, safely distance, and keep hands and surfaces clean, even if Governor Hutchinson lifts the statewide mask mandate,” shared Mueller. “Although more people are receiving vaccines, we still do not fully understand the consequences of ignoring these basic precautions or the possible impact of variants of the virus. When Arkansas has reached herd immunity as defined by the CDC, we will take appropriate actions. Likewise, if the situation worsens again, we will respond as needed.”

The webpage for the ARUMC COVID-19 Guidance has been updated to reflect the most recent guidelines and recommendations, as it will continue to be on a regular basis.  A “Frequently Asked Questions” tab has been added for convenience.

If you have any questions regarding the guidelines, please contact Amy Ezell, Center for Communication.


Bishop Mueller Offers Churches Safe Guidelines for Ash WednesdayVirtual Ash Wednesday Service will take place on Feb. 17

Bishop Mueller Offers Churches Safe Guidelines for Ash Wednesday
Virtual Ash Wednesday Service will take place on Feb. 17

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

As we approach one year since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of our world and forced churches to rethink how we worshipped together, it’s important to remember that, even though encouraging news has been coming out lately about the fight against the virus, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.

With that in mind, Bishop Mueller is issuing reinforced guidance on how United Methodist Churches in Arkansas should participate in the upcoming Ash Wednesday holy day.

In order to continue to keep everyone safe from the virus, Bishop Mueller is recommending that local churches provide individual units of ashes for online, drive-through, or in-person Ash Wednesday Worship Services. However, no one – including the pastor – should impose ashes on anyone else. 

Individuals should administer their own ashes as the pastor offers the appropriate words of imposition, in order to reduce physical contact between the pastor and the person receiving ashes.

Additionally, everyone must wear masks correctly, maintain 6 feet of social distancing and wash hands frequently for every in-person gathering. 

Bishop Mueller will also be offering a special virtual Ash Wednesday service for clergy that will be streamed through Zoom.

“We have been separated by so much this past year it’s no wonder many of us are experiencing a deep sense of loneliness and isolation in our lives and our ministry,” Bishop Mueller said. “Those of us who are leaders – whether we are lay supply, local pastors, provisionals, elders, deacons or retired – can do nothing more important than gather together to worship so we discover anew that we are never alone.”

The service will take place at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

“I can think of no place I would rather be to begin this Lenten Season than with those of you who are my colleagues in ministry as we experience together the powerful reality, “From dust we have come and to dust we will return; repent and believe in the Gospel,’” Bishop Mueller said.

Deadline nears for communications ministry scholarship and fellowship

Deadline nears for communications ministry scholarship and fellowship

Photo by fan yang on Unsplash

Nashville, Tennessee – Persons interested in pursuing a career in religious communications are encouraged to explore education support offered by United Methodist Communications. Eligible parties have until March 15 to submit their applications for scholarship and fellowship consideration.

“We believe that it is vital to have professional communicators who reflect the diversity of the global United Methodist Church,” shares Gary Henderson, Chief Relationship Officer at United Methodist Communications. “Our fellowship and scholarship, named after communicators who exemplified excellence in communications ministry, provide critical training and experience for people interested in serving the church in this way.”

The agency’s annual education financial assistance options include:

The $6,000 Stoody-West Fellowship assists one United Methodist student in their post-graduate study at an accredited U.S. college or university who intends on pursuing a career in religious journalism. The purpose of the fellowship is to enhance the recipient’s professional competence through news writing for secular press, church press or church institutions in print, electronic and broadcast media formats.

The $2,500 Leonard M. Perryman Communications Scholarship for Racial Ethnic Minority Students is awarded to an ethnic minority United Methodist undergraduate pursuing religion journalism or mass communications at an accredited U.S. college or university. The scholarship promotes excellence in communication ministry through electronic and print journalism.

Applicants for both opportunities will be judged on five criteria:

  • Christian commitment and involvement in the life of the United Methodist Church
  • Academic achievement as revealed by transcripts, grade point averages and the required letters of reference
  • Journalistic experience and/or evidence of journalistic talent
  • Clarity of purpose in plans and goals for the future
  • Potential professional ability as a religion journalism

Competed details and application information is available on the Communications section on

For 80 years, United Methodist Communications and its predecessors have led the church in telling inspirational stories of God’s work in the world through The United Methodist Church, reaching new people, supporting local churches in vibrant communications ministry, equipping leaders and delivering messages of hope and healing. Assisting the next generation of communicators is an important way that the agency fulfills their mission.


About United Methodist Communications

As the communications agency for The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Communications seeks to increase awareness and visibility of the denomination in communities and nations around the globe. United Methodist Communications also offers services, tools, and resources for communications ministry. Learn how to support our work at