Mark C. Grafenreed

Graduate Candidate in Religion and Culture




Mark C. Grafenreed is a doctoral candidate in the field of Religion and Culture. He seeks to explore the interdisciplinary interplays among Critical Race Theory, theological education, black ecclesiology, black liberation theology, Methodism, and the evolving role of the universal Church in society. As a native of Memphis, Tennessee, Mark’s introduction to Texas was by way of SMU, which will be his third rodeo on “The Hilltop,” (B.A. in History in 1998 and M.Div. (summa cum laude) in 2018). Between stints at SMU, Mark moved to Houston in 2000 to attend Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where he finished magna cum laude and was licensed as a Texas attorney in 2003. Mark worked at several private civil law boutiques before launching his own practice, The Grafenreed Law Firm, PLLC, from 2010-2020.

Mark is an ordained as an Elder in Full Connection with the Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and is in involved with several community organizations, including the Houston Area Women’s Center, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the United Negro College Fund, Houston Branch NAACP, American Leadership Forum (Class LIV), 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Houston, Inc., Fathers’ Auxiliary Chair, Missouri City-Sugar Land Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and Texas Annual Conference Boards of Church and Society and Ordained Ministry. Mark is married to his wife, Dr. Clynita J. Grafenreed, and they have two sons, Jackson and Justin.

Dissertation Advisor: Dr. Abraham Smith


"Open Hunting Season: Black Bodies as a Threatened Species," 30 Cardoza J. Equal Rts. & Soc. Just. (forthcoming Spring 2024). 


"Skin Markings: Filtering COVID-19 Through Levitical and Black Lenses" in Journal of Black Studies (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishing) 17 April 2024; 55 (5): 1-24.


"Still I Rise: Baptism, Liberation, and White Supremacy" in Journal of Black Religious Thought (Leiden: Brill Publishers) 27 July 2023; 2 (1): 1-21.


"The Central Jurisdiction: Methodism’s Original and Central Sin" in Methodist History (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press) 17 October 2022; 60 (2): 272–295.


"Seeing Spiritual Care Through Legal Lenses," in On Significant Components in Spiritual Care, Houston: Houston Methodist Hospital Spiritual Care and Values Integration (2021): 275-294.


Book Review. John G. Stackhouse, Jr.’s Evangelicalism: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022) in Methodist History (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press) 17 October 2023; 61 (2): 139–141.


Critical Race Theory: Counter-Storytelling the Case of ‘Old Frank’ and the Daniel Family Cemetery, 76 SMU L. Rev. F. 175 (2023). doi: 10.25172/slrf.76.1.9.


"Mingled Without Compromise," Heritage Journal, a publication of the Texas United Methodist Historical Society, vol. 14 (2018): 21-40.

". . . the differences between God’s Children . . .," Heritage Journal, a publication of the Texas United Methodist Historical Society, vol. 13 (2017): 69-96.


"The Breadwinner," The Perkins Student Journal, a publication of Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, 15 (Fall 2016): 51-63.


"The Role of Jury Discrimination in Sixth Amendment Impartiality: Truth or Myth?" Thurgood Marshall L. Rev. 28(2) (2003): 289-315.


"Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly: Caution: Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health" Thurgood Marshall L. Rev. 27(1) (2001): 67-83.



"The Christian Church: A Thermometer or Thermostat?," Perkins Summit for Faith and Learning, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, March 22-23, 2024.


"Selective Outrage: The (Un)American Way," Black History Month: Lunch and Learn Series, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, February 13, 2024.


"Holy or Haunted Houses?: The Spirit of a Racist Faith," Panelist on "Interrupting White Privilege: Disrupting White Supremacy in Ecclesial Settings," at The Society of Christian Ethics Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, January 4-7, 2024.


"Selective Outrage: The (Un)American Way," 11th Annual Black Doctoral Network Conference, "Setting A Legacy: The Impact of Successful Scholarship," Atlanta, Georgia, October 19-21, 2023.


"4Ds of Blackness: Levitical Leprosy and COVID-19," International Round Table Symposiums, Religion and History, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, July 16-20, 2023.


"The Christian Church: A Thermometer or Thermostat?," Princeton Theological Seminary, The Koinonia Forum, "Christianity Amidst Chaos," Princeton, New Jersey, March 3-4, 2023.


"Do You Know Your Rights When Stopped By Law Enforcement?" Cosponsored by SMU’s Association of Black Students SMU Staff Association; Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, February 22, 2023.


"Black Bodies: A Threatened Species," The University of Wyoming Black Studies Center, "Demystification of White Supremacy," Laramie, Wyoming, February 13, 2023.


"Black Bodies: A Threatened Species," 10th Annual Black Doctoral Network Conference, "Black Excellence. Brilliant Minds: The Power of Diversity," Atlanta, Georgia, October 27-29, 2022.


"Faith Leaders and Critical Race Theory," First United Methodist Church Rockwall, Rockwall, Texas, May 2022.


“ . . . the differences between God’s Children . . .,” The South Central Jurisdiction Convocation of Archivists and Historians, Texas United Methodist Historical Society Annual Meeting, Lubbock, Texas, October 6, 2016.

"Mingled Without Compromise," Texas United Methodist Historical Society Annual Meeting, Richardson, Texas, April 29, 2017.

Fellowships, Awards, and Service to the Profession: 
2023-2024 Search Committee (Dean of Perkins School of Theology)
2023-2024 Search Committee (Assistant Professor in the History of Christianity/Methodism)
2023 Oxford International Round Table Resident
2021-2026 GPRS Fellowship
2018 The Charley T. and Jesse James Bible Award 
2018 The Dr. and Mrs. Glenn Flinn Senior Award 
2017 The Albert C. Outler Award in Theology 


2016 and 2017 The Walter N. Vernon Student Essay Award