Perkins to Assist COVID-19 Response Efforts Thanks to Luce Foundation Grant

Perkins School of Theology at SMU is distributing $155,000 to United Methodist Annual Conferences and other ministry partners during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to an emergency grant from The Henry Luce Foundation.

DALLAS (SMU) – Perkins School of Theology at SMU is distributing $155,000 to United Methodist Annual Conferences and other ministry partners during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to an emergency grant from The Henry Luce Foundation.

The Foundation recently approved an emergency grant of $150,000 to Perkins for urgent needs related to the pandemic. This grant was approved through a recommendation from the Foundation’s Theology Program and designated “to uplift the voices and experiences of vulnerable communities, to directly support community partners and community members in need, and to contribute to new and ongoing efforts to deliver an equitable and just emergency response for all.” Additional funds rolled over from a previous grant to Perkins from the Luce Foundation will also support the effort.

Perkins was selected for the emergency grant due to its network of contacts with local churches and organizations serving the Latinx, vulnerable, at-risk and other communities greatly affected by the pandemic. The funds will help provide food, healthcare, housing, or partial salary help for frontline personnel serving their communities.

“The generous and thoughtful gift from the Luce Foundation will allow us to assist many worthwhile projects quickly and help Perkins build on our existing work with the Hispanic/Latinx communities and ministries,” said Craig C. Hill, dean of Perkins School of Theology.

Perkins will distribute the funds in two ways: through grants to each of the North Texas, Rio Texas, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma Indian Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church; and with smaller grants of for proposals submitted by Texas area organizations that have worked in partnership with The Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins.

For the latter, a total of $50,000 will be distributed in 14 grants to non-profit organizations, including: the Workers Defense Project Texas Undocumented Worker Fund, to assist communities of low-wage workers and immigrant families; Mission Waco in Austin, Texas, for Christian-based programs that empower the poor and marginalized; The Agape Clinic, providing health care services to underserved people; Peaceful Oasis Emergency Shelter of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, serving survivors of family violence; Bonton Farms, a sustainable urban farming community; Austin Street Shelter, serving people experiencing homelessness; the Human Rights Initiative, providing free legal services to people who have suffered human rights abuses; Wesley Rankin Community Center, providing education and resources to neighbors in West Dallas; Faith in Texas -La RED–COVID 19 Recovery Platform, assisting low-income and immigrant families and the incarcerated; Interfaith Family Services, empowering families to break the cycle of poverty; Faith Formula Human Services, food and job assistance; Break Bread, Break Borders, “catering with a cause” to empower refugee women; Gateway of Grace, assisting refugees through Christ-centered relationships; and Texas Impact: People of Faith Working for Justice, assisting congregations in serving vulnerable communities.

In addition, a total of $105,000 will be distributed to Annual Conferences for the following efforts:

The Texas Annual Conference to support its COVID-19 Help plan assisting families in United Methodist churches, including many undocumented immigrants who are not receiving help from other sources. Pastors will provide gift cards of $200 - $500 for food and household needs to families in need.

The Rio Texas Annual Conference to support its Iniciativa de Impacto Communitario, which provides a laundry ministry (for undocumented families without home laundry facilities); a computer lab for homework for those without internet connections; utility support, a bicycle repair workshop and food distribution.

The Oklahoma Indian Mission Annual Conference for food distribution and gift cards for area grocery stores; school aid and clothing assistance for low income Native American children; and utility assistance.

The Louisiana Annual Conference to support Luke’s House in New Orleans and the Center of Hope for Tangipahoa in Hammond, La. Luke’s House provides free medical care, health education, and patient navigation to those in need; the grant will allow the clinic to navigate patients to clinics and testing sites, provide food to hungry community members, and provide free medical visits. At Center of Hope for Tangipahoa, grant money will provide groceries for the food pantry, hand sanitizer, masks and gloves for volunteers, housing and medical assistance.

The Arkansas Annual Conference to support its 200,000 More Reasons program, which will disburse funding to 20 United Methodist feeding ministries to purchase food and PPE supplies for distribution. Those receiving the money include ministries that serve rural or predominantly Hispanic or African American communities.

The Missouri Annual Conference to assist Della Lamb Community Services, which provides early education, refugee services, social services, and youth services to low-income and immigrant families in Kansas City. The grant will support Della Lamb’s COVID-19 response including a mobile food pantry, distance-learning ESL classes, mobile COVID-19 test clinic, and weekly learning lessons for early education program participants.

The North Texas Annual Conference to assist Christ’s Foundry United Methodist Mission and Project Unity. Christ’s Foundry serves a predominantly immigrant population in North Dallas and will assist with COVID-19 testing, face mask and hygiene supply distribution, groceries for 150 families, and free Spanish-language counseling and care to families struggling due to COVID-19. Project Unity’s Together We Test program will provide free COVID-19 testing to persons in underserved communities of color.

Given the grant’s aim to lift up and document the voices of the marginalized, Perkins will solicit and collect videos, oral histories, and other expressions related to these communities as they weather the COVID-19 crisis. Promotion of these stories will be ongoing via the Perkins website, Perspective Online and social media channels.

About Perkins School of Theology
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.

About the Luce Foundation
The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.