Contact: Roberta Cox at 214-768-2335

January 27, 2004


DALLAS (SMU) — The popular novel, The DaVinci Code, an introduction to Islam, and the spiritual practice of the Labyrinth are among the topics at the 31st annual Perkins Theological School for the Laity, formerly known as Laity Week, at SMU's Perkins School of Theology, March 4-6. The event will include a keynote lecture by renowned New Testament scholar, Amy-Jill Levine, who will address “Jesus, Judaism, and Gender.”

Levine, who describes herself as a “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a Protestant seminary in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” is the Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University. She will deliver the opening lecture at 5:30 p.m. on March 4 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3140 Dyer St., and also lead one of the 11 courses available during the three-day program. Persons may register for courses by visiting the website at or may call 1-888-THEOLOGY, ext. 4.

School for the Laity offers courses in two formats: Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning through afternoon. Workshops and lectures presented by members of SMU faculty include:

  • "The DaVinci Code: Fact, Fiction, or Somewhere in Between,” presented by Roy Heller, assistant professor of Old Testament.
  • "Introduction to Islam,” presented by John Lamoreaux, assistant professor of Religious Studies.
  • “From I to We: Walking Through the Labyrinth,” presented by Susanne Johnson, associate professor of Christian Education.
  • “Jesus, Then and Now,” presented by Charles Wood, Lehman professor of Christian Doctrine.
  • "The Commitments of a United Methodist,” presented by Scott Jones, McCreless associate professor of Evangelism.
  • "Finding and Doing the Will of God,” presented by Frederick Schmidt, associate professor of Christian Spirituality.
  • Other presenters include SMU’s Karen Baker-Fletcher, William Bryan, John Holbert and Virgil Howard, and Brian Hardesty Crouch of Holy Moments ministry.

The Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award will be presented at noon Saturday, March 6, at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The annual award is presented to people who have exhibited a Christian faith and commitment exemplified by the late Judge Seals, a senior U.S. District Court judge who was instrumental in establishing the Laity school at SMU.

Perkins School of Theology was founded in 1911 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.