Luce Foundation Awards $500,000 Grant to Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins School of Theology

DALLAS (SMU)The Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins School of Theology has been awarded a three-year grant of $500,000 by The Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology program.  The three-year grant will significantly expand the Center’s work in promoting an understanding of the different religious expressions within the Latino/a communities in the United States and in Latin America.  

Dr. Hugo Magallanes, Director of the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions and Associate Professor of Christianity and Cultures at Perkins School of Theology, expressed his gratitude for the award.

“I am grateful for the generous support of The Luce Foundation and for the opportunities to expand the work of the Center as we continue to promote Latino/a research, and particularly for the opportunities to work with persons in Latin America," he said. 


Dr. Magallanes will administer the grant, which runs from Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2018.

The proposed outcomes of the Luce Grant include:
• Enhancement of collaborative cross-cultural and inter-religious engagement in research trips and projects;
• Support for the first cohort of students in the Th.M. degree program in Spanish;
Preparation of pre-tenure theological school faculty and Ph.D. students to teach Latino/a students;
• Sponsoring continued interdisciplinary discussion among scholars of Latino/a religion within Southern Methodist University and additional regional interdisciplinary conversations on topics related to Latino/a religion; and
• A capstone international event, to take place in Dallas at the culmination of the three-year grant cycle.  The 2-3 day gathering will include the Center’s international ministerial and academic partners who will join together for dialogue on the nature and character of theological education in the U.S. and in Latin America.

Perkins Dean William B. Lawrence praised the work of The Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions and underscored the importance of The Henry Luce Foundation Grant for generating new directions in research and scholarship.

“The Center has successfully promoted and advanced Latino/a scholarship in multiple academic fields and in various settings, both at the national and international levels,” he said.  “With this support from the Henry Luce Foundation, it is now perfectly poised for the next steps, including generating new directions in research and equipping current scholars — and preparing future scholars — for relevant scholarship and research for a multi-racial, interconnected, and post-Christian society.” 

The grant to Perkins School of Theology is one of 11 grants awarded thus far in 2015 by the Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology program.

The Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions, established July 1, 2007, builds upon the rich history of Perkins School of Theology’s Mexican American and Hispanic-Latino/a Church Ministries Program. The purpose is to strengthen Perkins’ engagement with Latino/a realities through its educational programs, the generation and conduct of research, and the dissemination of knowledge. The Center addresses topics and issues related to the Latino/a religious experience within a broader ecumenical and religious context, as well as with attention to international dynamics and realities.


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 (June 2016) as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.