The Perkins School of Theology Alumni/ae Council has selected Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. (M.Div. ‘97; D.Min. ‘09) as the 2022 recipient of the Perkins Distinguished Alumnus/a Award.
Perkins School of Theology is one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment of the United Methodist Church.
Saenz, a native of south Texas and lifelong United Methodist, was elected bishop in 2016 at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference and assigned to the Great Plains Conference, based in Topeka, Kansas. In his role as episcopal leader in Kansas and Nebraska, Saenz has worked to unify three former conferences that came together in 2014. In 2022, he was additionally assigned as the Coverage Bishop of the Central Texas Conference, based in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Bishop Saenz has led the Great Plains Conference, and more recently, the Central Texas Conference, with grace and courage through some very challenging times,” said Craig Hill, Dean of Perkins School of Theology. “He truly exemplifies the kind of Christian leader we strive to prepare our students at Perkins to become.”
In a letter affirming Saenz’s nomination for the award, the Rev. Adam Hamilton (M.Div., 1988), senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, called Saenz “a Christlike leader who seeks to live the gospel we preach. He genuinely cares about people, has an astute theological mind, and has navigated a challenging time for not only our annual conference but for the ‘people called Methodists.’”
Saenz is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a former high school teacher, high school football coach, and businessperson. A second career pastor, he served congregations in East Dallas, Oak Cliff Dallas, El Paso, and Edinburg, Texas. El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd) in Edinburg, Texas, was the largest Hispanic-American United Methodist Church in the country during his 10-year pastoral tenure. As a pastor, he focused his ministry on intentional spiritual practice and formation, developing a lay apostolate, and equipping people with tools and encouragement to move out of generational poverty. In 2010, he was appointed to serve as the Southwest Texas director of congregational and new church development, and he helped start 11 new churches before being appointed to director of conference connectional ministries and executive director of the Rio Texas Conference’s Mission Vitality Center in January 2015.
Saenz has been married to Mayé for 41 years. They have four adult children, all active in the life of The United Methodist Church. Two of their sons, Aaron and Ruben III, serve as pastors of growing congregations in the Rio Texas Conference. He and Mayé have nine grandchildren.
Bishop Ruben Saenz will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Banquet on November 14 on the campus of SMU.
SMU Perkins School of Theology website
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.