SMU photo by Hillsman Jackson
From left, Suzanne Reedstrom and Dean William Lawrence applaud Roberto Escamilla as he accepts the Distinguished Alumnus award from Perkins School of Theology. Rev. Reedstrom chairs the seminary’s alumni council.
Perkins School of Theology honored Roberto Escamilla of Ada as a 2013 Distinguished Alumnus, while a happy group from his church looked on during the ceremony Feb. 4 in Dallas.
Although retired from itinerancy, Rev. Dr. Escamilla continues serving Christ as minister of evangelism at Ada-First UMC and in several roles at Perkins seminary, Southern Methodist University. His outstanding, extensive clergy career has been at all levels.
Escamilla said he was blessed by more than a dozen people, from the Ada church, who traveled to Highland Park UMC to show their support when he received the award during Perkins Ministers Week.
"I have a bit of understanding of what this man has meant to The United Methodist Church and the gifts he continues to bring. Albert Outler—Dr. Escamilla is one of his students, and he worked with E. Stanley Jones," said Ada-First Senior Pastor David Daniel.
"(And) break out your hymnal." Escamilla contributed two song translations.
Rev. Daniel praised Escamilla’s leadership in the Ada church’s strong evangelism ministry. An annual community revival, renamed and endowed last year as the Muntz/Meyers Lectureship Series, has featured preaching by Bishop Hayes and by Bishop Bill Hutchinson of Louisiana. Leonard Sweet will preach this year.
Escamilla has actively participated at First UMC for 12 years.
Daniel said, "I know that part of my ministry here is to celebrate him and see what God will continue to do through us together in this church."
At the ceremony, Perkins Dean William B. Lawrence expressed appreciation for the extraordinary scope of Escamilla’s ministries. "Roberto Escamilla has devoted a lifetime to the mission of the Church," he said.
"He has embraced tasks on a scale as large as global Christianity and as small as conversations with individuals. Whether he was working as a denominational leader or serving as a translator who helped English-speaking preachers bring the gospel to Spanish-speaking congregations, Roberto has offered a faithful witness to God’s people."
Escamilla (Class of 1955) coordinates worship and teaches classes for Perkins’ Course of Study School (COSS) every summer. He also is a former editor of the Upper Room (Spanish edition) and is president of the Board of Directors of United Christian Ashram International. He is the author of four books.
His pastoral ministry began in the Rio Grande Conference. He also served with the General Boards of Discipleship and Global Ministries. He holds multiple degrees, including a doctorate from Vanderbilt University, and awards.
Perkins seminary named two Distinguished Alumni this year. William McElvaney was the second recipient. He is a former president of Saint Paul School of Theology.