Perkins Names 2021 Seals Laity Award Recipients
DALLAS (SMU) – Perkins School of Theology is honored to announce the 2021 recipients of the Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award: Kirk Franklin, a Grammy-award winning gospel artist and member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship; Nancy Seay, a philanthropist and elder of Highland Park Presbyterian Church (HPPC); and Lisa Tichenor, an active community leader and lay member of Highland Park United Methodist Church (HPUMC).
These three individuals will receive the Seals Laity Award during the online worship service for Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning, on Friday, March 19 at 4:45 p.m. Mary White, the 2020 recipient of the Seals Laity Award, will also be honored at that virtual event.
The Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award is presented annually to a layperson in the United States who embodies the Christian faith and commitment of service to Christ in the church, community and world as exemplified by Judge Woodrow B. Seals, a distinguished layperson whose interest and energy were instrumental in establishing the Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning (formerly the Perkins Theological School for the Laity). Selection for the Seals Award is made by the Perkins Lay Advisory Board.
Franklin is a Grammy Award winning choir director, singer, songwriter and author of the New York Times bestseller The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life’s Storms (Gotham/Penguin). He also hosts the gospel talent show "Sunday Best," the highest-rated gospel program in BET network history now heading into its fourth season. However, in nominating him for the Seals Award, friends and fellow church members cited his humility, his ministry to the homeless, and his selfless servant’s heart in his work in the church and the wider community.
“People who come to the church are surprised to see Kirk Franklin, a superstar, guiding traffic into the parking lot,” said Dr. Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. “He does that on purpose. He doesn’t want to be known just as a celebrity. He will intentionally do things to dumb down pride and to dumb down public recognition, so that he can demonstrate his heart for the Lord and his heart for people. He has become a vital part of our church and impacting our community and our nation.”
As an elder of HPPC, Seay has held a variety of leadership roles, from serving alongside middle schoolers as a confirmation mentor to leading a church-wide visioning committee to enhance the church’s 90-year-old building. A former president of the Junior League of Dallas, she has also served on numerous boards, including UT Southwestern Medical Center’s President’s Advisory Board and the Parkinson’s Voice Project Advisory Board, and as a philanthropic supporter of Children’s Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, and the North Texas Food Bank. She is also former Board Chair of Langham Partnership, a nonprofit Christian international fellowship working to foster the growth of the global church.
“Nancy has given of herself in service to our church, but her passion reaches far beyond that, into our city and the world,” said Dr. Bryan Dunagan, Senior Pastor of HPPC. “Nancy has been deeply formed by a global understanding of the church’s role in helping all people flourish – especially those on the underside of power.”
Tichenor’s service to God through the United Methodist Church has touched many lives locally and globally, especially the students of Africa University (AU), a United Methodist related institution in Zimbabwe. Her involvement began in 1988 as part of the first Endowment Fund Campaign Committee and continues today as a member of the university’s Development Committee and Advisory Development Committee. Most recently, she spearheaded the construction of a dormitory and student union building funded by HPUMC. Following the death of her son, Willie Tichenor, in 2006, Tichenor formed a non-profit in his memory, the Quad W Foundation, which provides financial support to efforts in higher education, sarcoma research, personally transforming mission experiences and general philanthropy.
“From inception, Lisa has been a catalyst for the development of Africa University,” said James H. Salley, associate vice-chancellor for institutional advancement. “The impact of her personal investment and passionate advocacy on behalf of AU is incalculable.”
The 2020 recipient of the Seal Award, Mary White, is a church leader, volunteer and retired educator. Since joining St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in El Paso, Texas in 1983, she has been active in a wide range of mission efforts, including ten mission trips in Eastern Europe, Mexico and the U.S.- Mexico borderlands. The bestowing of her award was postponed when the Summit was cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020. Read about White’s award here.
The Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning is supported by the Howard-Holbert Endowment Fund. The fund was established in 1986 in honor of the late Dr. Virgil P. Howard, who was associate director of the Perkins Intern Program and professor of Supervised Ministry, and Dr. John C. Holbert, Professor Emeritus of Homiletics who served as Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology from 1997 until his retirement in 2012.
For more information and to register for the Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning visit the website here.