Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650


March 4, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology has named Stanley C. Sager of Albuquerque, N. M. the recipient of the 2002 Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award, presented annually to laypersons who exemplify Christian faith and commitment to Christ by serving others.

The award will be presented to Sager at a special ceremony March 9 during the 29th Annual Laity Week at Perkins. The week features workshops and discussions on theology and church matters led by members of the Perkins faculty.

"We at Perkins and in the church are honored by persons such as Stan Sager," said Robin W. Lovin, dean of the Perkins School of Theology. "His steadfast faith and actions on behalf of the church and the poor in New Mexico provide a model for Christian discipleship."

Retired from military service at age 24 due to complications of polio contracted while serving as a naval officer in the Pacific during the Korean War, Sager earned a law degree at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas in 1957.

Sager co-founded the law firm, Sager, Curran, Sturges, Tepper, PC which became one of the 10 largest law firms in New Mexico. Sager served as managing partner and a civil defense attorney. Serving as State Bar Commissioner, Sager chaired the Legal Services for the Elderly Project, helping rural citizens with free legal advice to obtain health care benefits, improve housing and handle other legal issues. The pilot project eventually grew statewide.

He also chaired the State Bar's Long-Range Planning Committee for several years looking for solutions to the needs of persons in poverty. The work culminated in 2001 when the state provided funding and Sager was appointed by the governor to serve on the commission administering the fund. In addition, Sager has provided free legal services to many local churches, helping many to incorporate.

Awards Sager has received for his pro bono legal work include the LaFollette Pro Bono Award, two Distinguished Service Awards, an Outstanding Service Award and the Professionalism Award, the highest honor bestowed by the New Mexico Bar Association for epitomizing the highest standards of the legal profession.

His contributions to his church of 40 years, St. John's United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, have been many. He has held nearly every church office, has chaired four building committees and has led many local church finance campaigns, besides teaching Sunday School.

His volunteer services extended to district lay leader, board member and legal adviser for two of New Mexico's bishops. He currently chairs the New Mexico Conference Endowment Distribution Committee and is treasurer of the New Mexico Conference Methodist Foundation Inc., which he helped establish in 1972. He has served as Conference Chancellor and in a variety of other positions, including lay delegate to General Conference in 1992, 1996 and 2000. Sager, in 2000, was selected to lead the General Conference Legislative Committee on Finance and Administration, supervising its work and giving its reports. He chaired the Committee on Audit and Review for four years, establishing the first internal audit function and writing the policies and procedures for the new auditing department, including hiring the first staff.

Laity Week attracts approximately 200 laypersons from around the country and is part of Perkins' commitment to meet the educational needs of laity. In addition, Perkins reaches out to laity through programs in Amarillo, Houston, San Antonio and Anchorage. The Seals Award is presented annually to persons who have exhibited a Christian faith and commitment exemplified by the late Judge Seals, a senior U.S. district court judge whose interest and energy were instrumental in establishing Laity Week at SMU.

Perkins School of Theology was founded in 1915 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, now the United Methodist Church, as one of the original schools of Southern Methodist University. Offering a variety of degree programs, it remains one of the few university-related theological schools in the nation. For more information, call 1-888-THEOLOGY, ext. 4, or (214) 768-3515.