Rev. Dr. Andrew Zirschky, Adam Hamilton and Perkins Faculty to Lead 2019 Perkins Theological School for the Laity

DALLAS (SMU) – The 2019 Perkins Theological School for the Laity, a three-day event focusing on the Bible, theology, and spirituality is set for March 28-30 on the Southern Methodist University campus. A free evening lecture will feature the Rev. Dr. Andrew Zirschky, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Youth Ministry at Memphis Theological Seminary.

The lecture – Beyond the Moth Myth: Social Media, Youth, and Why the Church is Missing the Point – is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall. Dr. Zirschky has 20 years of ministry experience as a youth and college minister at churches in Idaho, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He has been named a Timothy Scholar by the United Methodist Foundation for Evangelism based upon his research emphasis in youth and young adult ministry.

“This annual event is a highlight for learning from and engaging with nationally recognized presenters from the Perkins faculty and beyond,” said Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean for External Programs at Perkins.

Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education at Perkins, will lead the opening worship service at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 28. Music for the service will be under the direction of Dr. Marcell Steuernagel, Assistant Professor of Church Music and Director of the Master of Sacred Music degree program at Perkins.

Throughout the event, four members of the Perkins School of Theology faculty, Perkins alumnus Adam Hamilton and Dr. Zirschky will conduct full and half-day courses. They include:

  • Adam Hamilton – The Future of a Diverse Church (Thursday afternoon)
  • Dr. Evelyn Parker – Intersecting Oppressions: Race, Class, Gender, Sex, and Immigration and Statelessness (Thursday afternoon)
  • Dr. Roy Heller – Abraham’s Righteousness: Stories about What is Most Important in Religion (Friday)
  • Dr. Andrew Zirschky – Communion Beyond Connection: The Ministry of Presence in a Lonely Age (Friday)
  • Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles – The Fabric of Faith: Learning from the Women of the New Testament (Saturday)
  • Dr. Mark Stamm – Exploring God’s Call to Prayer: Scripture and Tradition, Along with Plenty of Experience and Imagination (Saturday)

Additionally, the recipient of the 2019 Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award will be recognized by Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill during the opening worship service in Perkins Chapel on Thursday, March 28. The 2019 awardee is John Esquivel, member of First United Methodist Church, Houston. Read the full release here.

More registration information for Perkins Theological School of the Laity is available online. Advanced discounted registration ends Thursday, March 21, and first-time attendees can receive a $25 discount for a full-day course by using the code NEW when registering. Also, continuing education credits will be provided for a $15 fee.


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.

Perkins School of Theology receives $1 million Lilly Grant to strengthen congregational youth ministries

Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University is the recent recipient of a large grant aimed at helping churches with budgetary needs to strengthen their youth ministries.

The five-year, $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will kickstart a new initiative called “Reboot: The Congregation as Youth Worker.” The initiative will select and provide resources to congregations within a 300-mile radius of Dallas that are without a full-time paid youth worker.

According to the press release, “The initial cohort of 18 congregations — the ‘Starter Cohort’ — will undergo a discovery process to determine the viability of ministries with youth in their communities and will be introduced to current innovation models for youth ministries. From this cohort, 12 congregations will be selected as the ‘Innovation Cohort’ to apply for resources provided by the grant to build and sustain an innovative model for congregational ministry with youth.”

For Arkansas United Methodist Churches, this 300-mile radius includes churches in both the Southwest and Northwest District of the Arkansas Conference.

Michelle Moore — Youth and Young Adult Coordinator for the Arkansas Conference and advisory board member for the Lilly grant — said the initiative’s concentration on churches without a paid, full-time youth minister is especially attractive for a majority of Arkansas Conference UMC churches.

“I know we have several churches who would benefit from this program directly or from the research and findings that will come from this program’s work. I am excited for the Arkansas Conference to be a partner in engaging youth, volunteers, congregations and pastors in this experience and helping develop strong, healthy and sustainable youth programs,” Moore said. “I look forward to being in partnership with Perkins School of Theology as this program emerges into the vital program I know it will become.”

Applications to enroll as one of the 18 Starter Cohort congregations will be accepted beginning May 8, 2019.

Rev. Bart Patton, Co-director of the grant along with Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, said that youth ministry is currently at an important crossroads in its journey.

“We hope this new endeavor will provide new standards and rubrics to help congregations create, implement, sustain, and measure youth ministry,” Patton said.

Pope-Levison said the grant will allow churches that were previously unable to implement effective youth ministries the opportunity to do so.

“The financial and personnel resources that this grant makes possible will lead the way in rebooting youth ministry from the lone ranger approach of the paid youth worker to centering youth ministry as a congregational initiative and endeavor,” she said.

For more information about the initiative and how your church can apply to be in the Starter Cohort, contact Rev. Bart Patton at