Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
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January 14, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology will present its Distinguished Alumni Award to former General Secretary of the World Methodist Council The Rev. Joseph “Joe” Rice Hale at a special presentation at noon, Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom, 3140 Dyer St.

Hale began his ministry just out of high school, conducting evangelistic meetings in small churches. He served the Sunset Circuit in the North Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church while he was a seminary student at Perkins School of Theology. After graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1960, he was named to the staff of the General Board of Evangelism of The Methodist Church in Nashville, where he served for 15 years. He came to the board as the first national missioner of a newly formed Department of Evangelists. While on this staff, he conducted more than 400 New Life Missions in churches across the country, with some assignments in Africa, Europe and Asia. He was later named Director of Ecumenical Evangelism for the board. The book, Design for Evangelism, was among several he wrote.

In the early 1970s, Hale helped plan and was registrar for a world evangelism conference in Jerusalem that attracted 2,400 participants. He also served five years as a member of the executive committee of Key ‘73, a national evangelism emphasis involving 140 Christian denominations and groups in the United States.

He was elected the third general secretary of the World Methodist Council at its 1976 Conference in Dublin, Ireland, a position he served in for 25 years. He retired in July 2001 at the 18th World Conference in Brighton, England where he was surprised with the presentation of the 2001 World Methodist Peace Award, an award which had been presented the previous year to Dr. Nelson Mandela in Cape Town, South Africa. The Council was organized in London in 1881 and today links 78 member Methodist/Wesleyan and United Church denominations and churches in 130 nations with membership of 36 million people worldwide.

Hale served as chairman of the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions from 1982 to 1986. The international conference, comprising general secretaries and senior officials of more than 20 world “families” of churches, meets annually and includes Roman Catholic and Orthodox representatives as well as the secretaries of bodies such as the Anglican Communion, Baptist World Alliance and the Lutheran World Federation.

Hale has won numerous awards including the “Great Cross of Merit of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,” a Catholic decoration presented in Vienna in 1992, for his concern and initiatives on behalf of the people of the Holy Land. In 1994, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church gave him its Distinguished Service Award for ecumenical relations. The General Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Concerns of The United Methodist Church also recognized him in 2000. In 1998 he received the Philip Award from the National Association of United Methodist Evangelists, and late last year was named “Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church for the Year 2001” by the Foundation for Evangelism, an affiliate of The United Methodist General Board of discipleship.