Marjorie Procter-Smith Retires
When Marjorie Procter-Smith, who retired in June 2011 from her position as Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship, came to teach at Perkins in 1983, she was only the third woman to be hired as faculty. “From the start,” she recalls, “I was very involved with the women faculty and administrators. There were so few of us at first,” she adds, “that we used to have lunch meetings in my office. Now there are so many women faculty and administrators we can’t all get in one office.”
Procter-Smith came to Perkins from graduate school at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned her Ph.D. A native North Texan and graduate of Dallas’ Kimball High School, she went on to earn her B.Mus. from the University of North Texas and the M.Div. from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. “The faculty took a leap of faith,” she says, “in that I had just finished my degree and was neither ordained nor United Methodist.” Procter-Smith quickly came to appreciate the advantages of not being ordained: “When asked by students who sometimes seemed unable to imagine how a non-ordained person might be qualified for my position, I explained that I was a militant layperson and they should bear in mind that their congregation was filled with people like me. I also liked to remind them that there were laypersons in their congregation who were as well educated and as capable of understanding theological ideas and issues as any of us.”
Procter-Smith’s teaching specialties include the history, theology, and practice of Christian worship, and women’s studies. Her research interests encompass Christian feminist liturgy and ritual, performance theory and ritual studies. Her publications include In Her Own Rite: Constructing Feminist Liturgical Tradition (Abingdon Press, 1990; reissue, with a new introduction, Akron, Ohio: OSL Press, 2000); Praying with Our Eyes Open: Engendering Feminist Liturgical Prayer (Abingdon Press, 1995); with Janet Walton, Woman at Worship: Interpretations of North American Diversity (Westminster John Knox, 1993).
In addition to contributions in her own fields of interest and expertise, Procter-Smith had a lasting impact on the Perkins community in other ways. She played a key role in the 1999 renovation of Perkins Chapel. Her duties ranged from assisting with the selection of an architect to sitting in on related meetings with university personnel and developing criteria to be evaluated for the renovation. Procter-Smith was also associate dean for Academic Affairs from fall 2000 to spring 2005. She had many memorable experiences during the changes at Perkins in those years. “A memory that stands out was hiring seven new faculty in one year,” she recounts.
Retirement will find Marjorie, along with her husband, George, busy cultivating their vegetable and herb gardens while also taking care of rabbits, laying hens, and especially her beloved Tennessee Walker Horses on their 44-acre farm near Corsicana in rural Navarro County.