SMU Announces Appointment of Dr. Evelyn Parker to Susanna Wesley Centennial Chair in Practical Theology

DALLAS – Dr. Evelyn Parker, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University, has been named as the inaugural holder of the Susanna Wesley Centennial Chair in Practical Theology.

A member of the Perkins faculty in the field of practical theology since 1998, Dr. Parker’s appointment became effective June 1, 2015.
    Dr. Evelyn Parker


The new 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 her “practical theology” as a source of inspiration for her sons. Read more about the Susanna Wesley Centennial Chair in Practical Theology, the 100th endowed chair at Southern Methodist University. 

Perkins School of Theology Dean William B. Lawrence expressed gratitude to Dr. Harold W. Stanley, vice president for academic affairs and provost ad interim, and to the former provost Dr. Paul Ludden, for Dr. Parker’s appointment.

“Evelyn Parker is an exemplary scholar, leader, and practician in both the academy and the church. Her knowledge and expertise, which bridge theological reflection and real-life issues and ministry, are unparalleled and we celebrate her appointment to this new role,” he said.

Dr. Parker earned the Ph.D. degree in 1996 from the Joint Program of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University in Religious and Theological Studies with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Christian Education, Womanist approaches to religion and society, and education and public policy. She received the Master of Religious Education degree in 1991 from Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University, the Master of Science degree from Prairie View A&M University in 1983, and the Bachelor of Science degree in 1974 from Lambuth College in Jackson, Tenn.

She is the editor of The Sacred Selves of Adolescent Girls: Hard Stories of Race, Class, and Gender (Pilgrim Press, 2006) and author of Trouble Don’t Last Always: Emancipatory Hope Among African American Adolescents (Pilgrim Press, 2003). Dr. Parker co-authored In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation in the Black Church (Abingdon, 2002) and has also published several chapters and journal articles on adolescent spirituality. Her forthcoming book is titled Between Sisters: Emancipatory Hope Out of Tragic Relationships (Cascade Books). 

Dr. Parker is a member of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) and has served as a local and district Director of Christian Education. She has also taught numerous educational ministry workshops and seminars on local, district, Annual Conference and Connectional levels. 

She represented the CME Church on the World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order Plenary Commission from 1996 to 2006. She was elected to the Central Committee during the WCC 9th Assembly in 2006 and served as co-secretary/reporter for the Nominations Committee. She was also a member of the Planning Committee for the WCC 10th Assembly held in Busan, South Korea in 2013, where she led Bible study and served as delegate representing the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Following the 10th Assembly, Dr. Parker was elected to serve an eight-year term on the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, where she moderates the Statelessness and Migrants’ Rights Working Group.

Dr. Parker is an active member of the American Academy of Religion, and the Association of Practical Theology, the International Academy of Practical Theology, and the Religious Education Association, where she has chaired groups, presented papers, coordinated segments of consultations and convened sessions. She served on the Board of Advisors for the Princeton Theological Seminary Institute for Youth Ministry from 1995 to 2003 and served as a member of the grant writing team for the Perkins Youth School of Theology, a $1.4 Million theological program for high school youth funded by the Lilly Endowment. 

A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Dr. Parker is an active member of the Kirkwood Temple C.M.E. Church in Dallas, Texas, where she serves as Christian Education Coordinator.


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.