Rev. Dr. Isabel Docampo Appointed to Lead Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions

DALLAS (SMU) – Rev. Dr. Isabel Docampo, Professor of Supervised Ministry at Perkins, has been appointed by Dean Craig C. Hill to serve as director of the school’s Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions, effective June 1. 

Docampo, who joined the Perkins community in 1997 as Intern faculty and associate director of the Intern Program, succeeds Dr. Hugo Magallanes, who has been appointed Director of the Houston-Galveston Extension Program.

“I am honored by Dean Craig Hill for the invitation to continue the outstanding work of Dr. Magallanes and the Center, and I am privileged to collaborate with a very committed executive board to generate research related to Latino/a religious experiences and how it shapes our larger society.”

The central mission of the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity is to promote a deeper understanding of the varieties of religious life and expression within the Latino/a communities in the United States and in Latin America. Building upon the rich history of its Hispanic Latino/a Ministries Program, Perkins seeks to strengthen its engagement with Latino/a realities through its educational programs, the generation and conduct of research and the dissemination of knowledge. The Center also 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.

Of particular note, Docampo is excited to usher in this fall the first cohort of five students in Perkins’ new Master of Theology in Spanish degree program, which is open to Hispanic or non-Hispanic students who are living and ministering in Spanish-language settings and who have fluency in Spanish. Funding for the students is part of a three-year, $500,000 grant made to the Center by The Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology program.

Docampo is a member of the Association of Theological Field Education, an ATS affiliate organization, and has served two terms on its steering committee. During that time, she hosted its Biennial Conference in Dallas in 2007. She also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Leadership from 2016-17.

Some of her publications include Joshua, Judges and Ruth, New Immersion Bible Study Series, from Abingdon Press; “The Role of Immersion in the Work of Racial Justice” in Trouble the Water: A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice, edited by Mathews, Onwubuariri and Sanders; and “Identity, God-Talk and Self-Critical Reflection in Religious Leadership: Contributions from a Latino/a Perspective,” Journal of Religious Leadership 11(1) 

Docampo, an ordained American Baptist clergy, is an affiliate member of Grace United Methodist Church Dallas. She has also led women’s retreats for local United Methodist congregations. Docampo served on the boards of the progressive Alliance of Baptists and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America organizations and continues an active membership.

Docampo, whose parents and pre-school-aged brothers emigrated from Cuba to New Orleans five months before her birth, grew up within the Latino/a immigrant Baptist church context. She received a Doctor of Ministry from Perkins in 2003 and a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1982. She began her ministry by starting new churches with and for Latino/a populations in Radcliff, Ky., and Chester, Pa. Her subsequent ministry has included the DFW Women’s Interfaith Dialogue (awarded Peacemaker Organization by the Dallas Peace and Justice Center), and faith-based community organizing on behalf of women, workers, immigrants and refugees and victims of domestic violence. She was the founding president of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank in 1985-86.


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.