Nominations Accepted through Dec. 1 for 2020 Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award

DALLAS (SMU) – Nominations for the 2020 Perkins School of Theology Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award are now being accepted through December 1, 2019.

The annual award is presented to a layperson in the United States who exemplifies an exceptional commitment of service to Christ through faith and action in the church, community and world. Awarded first in 1993, the award has been presented to more than 45 distinguished laypersons throughout the years.

The Seals Award receives support from the Howard-Holbert Endowment Fund, and honors Judge Woodrow B. Seals (1917-1990), a distinguished layperson whose interest and energy were instrumental in establishing the Perkins Theological School for the Laity.

The 2019 Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award recipients was John M. Esquivel, a faithful United Methodist, a community leader, a philanthropist and an advocate for civil rights. He retired from the Shell Oil Company, where he served as Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and Associate General Counsel.   A member of First United Methodist of Houston, he was elected in 2016 as Lay Leader for the Texas Annual Conference and serves actively on the Bishop’s Extended Cabinet.  He is a longtime member of the Board of Trustees for the Houston Symphony, has served as chairman of the Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Justice for Our Neighbors Houston, and is a member of the boards of the National Council of La Raza and the YMCA of Greater Houston.

In 2018, there were three recipients: Dr. Lydia Bean, founder and Executive Director of Faith in Texas; Dr. Kathryn S. Stream, retired Senior Vice President of the Texas Medical Center collaboration in Houston and Dr. Beverly E. White, a hospitalist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.  In 2016, the recipient was Dr. Mauro Ferrari, the Executive Vice President of Houston Methodist and the President and CEO of the Houston Methodist Research Institute. (No award was given in 2017.) Other previous recipients include Kay Prothro Yeager (2015), Bliss Dodd (2014), Linda Marr, Dr. Kenneth and Lila Foree (2013), William E. "Bill" Turner (2012) and Jackie A. Strange (2011). See a complete list of former recipients here.

Presentation of the 2020 Seals Laity Award will take place during the Perkins Theological School for the Laity next spring.

Nominations must include:

  • A one- to four-page document including a biographical narrative and examples of nominee’s activities showing commitment to Christian service in the church, community and world
  • Three letters of recommendation from clergy and lay leadership of nominee’s congregation and/or denomination, as well as supplemental letters of support from officials in other church or community organizations
  • Contact information for primary sponsor who will serve as the contact for Perkins School of Theology
  • The sponsor should compile all nomination materials and mail or email as one package. Selection is made by a committee of the Perkins Lay Advisory Board. Nominations remain active for three years including the year of submission.

Nominations should be submitted by December 1, 2019 to:
The Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award Committee
c/o Associate Dean for External Programs
Perkins School of Theology
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133

Or by email to:

View Additional Information about the Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award.



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.