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Tag Archive: SMU


Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt

Sitting at my desk thinking about the last year and planning for the new year, I was looking forward to playing shows more often. Not to mention the upcoming music conferences. Such as the ASCAP Expo in April. Or the Songwriter Symposium hosted by the Austin Songwriters Group coming up in a couple of weeks. Which naturally caused me to relive last years symposium, in a fashion. Which led to recalling an interesting story I thought I would relate to you.

For a number of years, I have been attending the Theological School for the Laity at Perkins Theological Seminary at SMU for a weekend in early March. I took a few classes with Robert Hunt, a professor at Perkins. I have also been to other functions at Perkins and have seen and talked to Robert. He has preached in our church. He also gave a presentation at a meeting of the Religion Communicators Council of which I am a member.

Then at the symposium, I saw Robert and thought it was cool that he wrote songs as well as his theological works. I never heard his name at the symposium, but he seemed to know who I was. We are both a friendly sort of people – when we see people we give a knowing look, as if we are introducing ourselves with facial expressions. Which makes each of us seem as if we knew the other beforehand. But I had no doubt at the time that I knew him.

In October, I played a showcase at eSpiritu in Frisco. One of the other four songwriters was Robert – or so I thought. In the emails from the host, Ryan Michael Galloway, he said Richard Hunt was playing – along with Julie Jean White, myself, and Mudcat Reames. I thought he had Richard’s name wrong. When I arrived, I walked up to him and shook his hand. He said he was glad to see me again. While he was playing, his wife was standing at a table across the aisle from Cyndy and I taking pictures. I asked her if he was writing songs under the name of Richard.

“Yes, he’s a lawyer. Both of us are. And yes, he goes by Richard – his real name.”

Now I was thoroughly confused. Cyndy and I looked Richard up on the internet, since she had met Robert as well, and found our answer quickly. Julie Jean played after him. I went on after her. After my set, I walked up to him and asked if he had a brother.”

“Yes,” he said, with a smile and a nod, “a twin.”

“When I saw you at the symposium, I thought you were Robert.”

“That’s a common occurrence.” Another nod and smile.

I was just thankful I was not going stark raving bananas. Who would have thought I would meet twin brothers in basically unrelated areas of my life? I know quite a few sets of twins, but I met them together. I also know there are a lot of twins – more than you would think.

Have you ever met a set of twins, each at different times, not knowing they were twins? I would be interested to know. I don’t think I am the only one. Let us know in the comments.

Peace be with you.

P.S. This story reminded me of another story I heard years ago. Look for the next post.

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American Protestantism has long been shaped by interactions between religion of the heart and religion of the head. Yet modern evangelicalism is as much a product of post-World War II political developments in the United States and globally as it is of 18th and 19th century revivalism.

So says Dr. Robert Hunt of Southern Methodist University, speaker at the May 14 GUSTO! meeting beginning at 10 a.m. Hunt has been a pastor, missionary, teacher, writer and editor. He currently serves as director of global theological education at the Perkins School of Theology, where he lectures on world religions, Christian missions and Islam. He spoke to GUSTO! on the topic of Islam back in April of 2010.

Contemporary evangelicals are far more diverse and divided than depictions in the media typically show, Dr. Hunt says. Yet the recent alignment of some evangelicals with Roman Catholic social causes has the potential to reshape not just the political landscape, but the very concepts of citizen and state. He will explore these trends at the May meeting.

A Dallas native, Hunt graduated with a degree in history from UT–Austin and earned a master of theology at SMU. He received a Ph.D. in history from the University of Malaya, focusing on the history of Bible translation and Christian–Muslim relations. He lived and worked abroad in the Philippines, Malaysia and Vienna for nearly 20 years before coming to SMU. He has written several books, most recently The Gospel Among the Nations: A Documentary History of Inculturation (Orbis, 2010)

The previous paragraphs are from Kay Champagne of the GUSTO! Communications team. Kay is a fellow member of the DFW chapter of the Religion Communicators Council. The GUSTO! program has some interesting and entertaining speakers. I have written quite a few posts on past programs which are in the archives.

I have met Robert Hunt and heard him speak on several occasions. I took a course he gave on world religions at the Theological School for the Laity at Perkins School of Theology. He gave a sermon at our church and gave a presentation at an RCC meeting held at Perkins. He is an engaging speaker who speaks with humor and acumen. There will be a reception following the presentation. Guests are welcome.

Peace be with you.

Jake Batsell, Assistant Professor in the Journalism department at SMU, discussed media convergence and the importance of maintaining a presence in, or on, various media, including social media, at the January meeting of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of the RCC on January 26. He is also faculty adviser for the student media websites, combined at smudailycampus.com, including the SMU Daily Mustang, a multi-platform news site produced by journalism students, and SMU-TV. Entitled “Media Outreach During Turbulent Times for the News Business,” Batsell’s presentation included results of the longitudinal study of media convergence that he, his colleagues, and students have been conducting.

They began the  study by asking a central research question: To what extent has convergence journalism taken hold in U.S. newsrooms over the past decade, and to what extent have these cross-platform partnerships endured? Newspaper and TV managers in the top 200 U.S. media markets were surveyed in 2002-‘03 (Phase 1), 2004-‘05 (Phase 2), and again in 2011 (Phase 3). Batsell and his colleagues are currently studying the results of phase 3. The results indicate challenges and opportunities for media outreach.

“The bad news is that traditional newsrooms are short-staffed, making cultivating relationships with reporters difficult. When you do interact with reporters, they’ll have less time to absorb your story than they used to.”

The good news, particularly for religion communicators, is that there are more non-traditional ways to get the message out. “Press releases that used to be ignored now might spark a blog post, which can be amplified through social media.” Suggested links to background information during an interview are likely to be included in the story. Alternate media outlets are plentiful, such as NeighborsGo and DallasSouthNews, as well as Pegasus News and Advocate Magazine, in the Dallas area.

Current results of the study show that news managers are focusing on developing interactive relationships with readers and viewers, primarily through social media. Which includes multimedia (both staff-generated and user-generated), news as conversation (blogs, comments, live chats, etc.), and engagement via social media platforms. “Today, news is a two way conversation” between newsrooms of all media and their readers. As religion communicators, we need to join the conversation. In an online world of “likes”, links, blogs, comments, and re-sending articles, and posts, good content and internet interaction are key to delivering our message to more people.

Peace be with you.

Alyce McKensie, Professor of Homiletics at Perkins Theological Seminary at SMU, published a post before Easter entitled “Have You Got Your Ticket” on Patheos.com. With three teenagers and end of the year school and church activities, I was distracted and only recently re-read the post. The lectionary text that week was the Walk to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35. “… Easter season is a journey that begins with the empty tomb and the Risen Lord. But for some reason I’ve been thinking about journeys and ways we can remember where were headed and why.”

McKensie recalled the well-known story about Albert Einstein’s train trip when he was on the floor looking for his lost ticket. The conductor told him it was okay, he knew who he was, and trusted him. “It’s not a matter of trust,” said Einstein. “If I don’t find that ticket, I have no idea where I’m going!”

Alyce then wrote about receiving an original ticket to the Wesleyan Class Meeting of the Wesleyan-Methodist Society from 1829. How holding the ticket in her hand led her on a mental spiritual journey back to when James Hart (the name on the ticket) was in fellowship and worship with the society and back to the beginning of the Christian church with the Last Supper and the empty tomb. Read the full post here.

While I was reading her post, my mind went in a slightly different direction (as my mind is wont to do) with the example of the ticket. I do not know what the conductor would have done with the ticket when Einstein found it. But I remember having to get my ticket punched when riding on a train – ostensibly to prove the conductor had validated my ticket. Which led me to consider another kind of ticket.

Part of the problem with the decline of churches today is that many Christians live as though they are mentally getting their ticket punched. Not exactly a good example with which to persuade people to come to, or come back to, church. It’s more about having their eternal ticket punched than faithfulness or discipleship.

Went to Communion Sunday – punch. Went to Wednesday night dinner – punch. Church music programs – punch. Holiday worship services – punch. Christmas services and Easter services – double punches at least. As if the totality of one’s good works can bring entrance to heaven.

If St. Peter at the golden gate were the conductor to eternity, when handed the attendance punch card, he might ask: “Where is your mission punch card, your evangelical punch card, your kindness to strangers punch card?” And so on. If the applicant is using the punch card approach, they are going to fall short of the mark of a good and faithful Christian.

Approached with a true and right spirit, attending church services and events are joyful times of worship and fellowship. Worship and fellowship create an impetus for doing good works, not the other way around. The good works come as acts of faith to, in some small way, return the favor for the Lord’s magnanimous gift of grace. We should want to do good works to further our spiritual journey, not to collect points.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Ephesians 2:9,10

Peace be with you.

The Communications Conference 2011, presented by UMR Communications, parent company of the United Methodist Reporter, was held at the Presbyterian Ministry Center in Irving on Thursday, February 24th, and Friday, the 25th. The event was previously called the Editor’s Conference – for editors of faith-based publications. Realizing that communicators often wear many hats, the UMR staff changed the title to the Communicators Conference.

The conference opened on Thursday with a luncheon followed by a keynote address by Rev. Tim McLemore, associate director in the Office of Public Affairs at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, that set the tone for the conference. The conference was attended by communicators from the United Methodist Church and other denominations in various areas of the country. Workshops provided tips on organization, communication plans, branding, media choices, photos and Photoshop, volunteer optimization, financing for communications, writing skills, and online tips, tools, and tricks.

Tim McLemore

Presenters from the staff of UMR included Liz Applegate, New Media Associate, Erika Dorsey, Design and Production Manager, Cherrie Graham, Advertising Manager, and Mary Jacobs, Staff Writer. Other presenters included John Greenberger, COO for ReTransform (former CFO of UMR), Samantha Naeyaert, founder of Muddle Management (an organizing and efficiency company), Patrick Steil, owner of ChurchBuzz, and Patrick Shownes, Communications Coordinator for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Steil also gave the closing keynote address, giving attendees online tools they could put into action upon their return home.

As one of the communicators in attendance, representing Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch and the Communications Committee, I can say that the conference was an enjoyable time of fellowship with fellow communicators. The conference is one of the few times some of us get to meet in person. The conference was also a chance share the problems we face as communicators. I’m already looking forward to next year.

See Mallory McCall’s article on the event in the UM Reporter. More pictures below.

Peace be with you.

Sam Hodges and Deb Christian

Liz Applegate

Tim McLemore

All Laity are invited to attend Perkins Theological School for the Laity (PTSL) at Perkins School of Theology March 3-5. The school consists of a variety of workshops and seminars with Perkins faculty and noted scholars. It is a chance for any and all Laity to explore theology on a college level as well as potential students. The only problem is trying to decide which course(s) to take among the excellent variety of choices. There are Thursday/Friday classes and Saturday classes.

The weekend begins with registration and check-in at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. After a welcome and opening worship at 1 p.m., there will be two sessions of the Thursday/Friday classes before the opening banquet at 5:30 at which Elaine Heath will give the lecture, “Vampire Love: Is Twilight Bad News for Girls?” The classes resume on Friday at 9:45 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m., interrupted only by lunch at 11:45 and the plenary lecture at 1 p.m. Miroslav Volf will lecture on “Empire, Church, and Missio Dei.” Evening worship will begin at 4:30 p.m.

This year’s PTSL program is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society (WTS). Participants will be able to attend certain events of the WTS meeting. Those taking the Thursday/Friday class, “Wesleyan Movement in America,” will attend Friday WTS sessions.

Registration and check-in will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning as will Morning Prayer. The WTS panels on war and mission begin at 8:30. Saturday one-day classes begin at 10 a.m. with a service of Holy Communion at noon and the Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award Luncheon at 1 p.m. The final session(s) of the one-day classes begin at 2:30 with the School for the Laity adjourning around 4:30 p.m.

There is not an all-inclusive price this year so the banquets and luncheons are optional. Participants can also choose between two-day classes, one-day classes or both. Course descriptions and registration can be found on the Perkins website. This will be my seventh year to attend the School for the Laity. It is a wonderful time for spiritual renewal, fellowship, and delving deeper into theology. I hope to see you there.

Peace be with you.

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