Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. Named as 2022 Perkins Distinguished Alumnus

Bishop Saenz to be honored at Perkins Distinguished Alumni Awards Banquet on Nov. 14 along with 2020 and 2021 Recipients
No Live Webcast of the Event to be Available.  CTCUMC.ORG will have Post-Event Coverage following the event.
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by Connie Nelson*, Matt Jacob** and J. Vance Morton*** - Oct. 25, 2022
The Perkins School of Theology Alumni/ae Council has selected Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. as the 2022 recipient of the Perkins Distinguished Alumnus/a Award. He will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Banquet at SMU on Nov. 14. Bishop Saenz received his M.Div. from Perkins in 1997 and then later returned for his Doctor of Ministry, which was completed in 2009.
Bishop Saenz greets members of the CTC during a celebration welcoming him to the Conference.

Bishop Saenz came to the Central Texas Conference as its episcopal leader in January 2022 in the midst of churches reemerging from the COVID shutdown and the specter of disaffiliation hanging over the conference and denomination. His strong, measured and forward-thinking leadership were (and are) Firvital in moving the conference through the disaffiliation process while continuing to actively focus on its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Bishop Saenz said he was humbled and honored by the announcement of being named the 2022 Distinguished Alumnus and also somewhat surprised that one of the accomplishments he was chosen for was how he was leading his conferences during the disaffiliation process.
"I got to thinking about how my theological education and training at Perkins has served me in this work, given me the tools for critical reflection and for dealing with the challenges and complexities facing the church," he said. "If I have led the church well during the season of disaffiliation, it's because I see a bigger future for the life of the church that transcends our debate. That's what helps me get perspective on what we're facing right now, because I'm looking to the future."

In writing to the Distinguished Alumni Selection Committee, Rev. Clint Jones, pastor of First United Methodist of Hico, Texas, noted that Bishop Saenz not only helped steady the Central Texas Annual Conference and mitigate its losses through disaffiliation, but “he has even gone as far as to begin to energize our churches and push them beyond what is transpiring... He has come to the conference as the right person at the right moment.”
The Rev. Marilyn Jones, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Stephenville, Texas, echoed that sentiment, adding that Bishop Saenz has maintained a hectic travel schedule, alternating each week between Great Plains and Central Texas. “In his short tenure in our conference, he has shown tremendous compassion for all churches and clergy,” she wrote. “Bishop Saenz has uniquely answered the call ‘for such a time as this’ and many in the Central Texas Annual Conference are grateful.”
Recording a message to the Conference at the U.S.-Mexico Border wall near McAllen, Texas

Prior to and during his episcopal assignment in Central Texas, Ruben Saenz Jr, a native of south Texas and lifelong United Methodist, served/serves as the resident bishop of the Great Plains Conference, based in Topeka, Kansas. He was elected to the episcopacy in 2016 at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. As part of his role as episcopal leader in Kansas and Nebraska, Bishop Saenz worked to unify three former conferences that came together in 2014.

“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 Bishop Saenz’s nomination for the award, Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, called him “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(s) but for the ‘people called Methodists.’”
Ruben Saenz Jr. 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, 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.
Bishop and Maye Saenz celebrated 41 years of marriage and ministry together in 2022

In 2010, he was appointed to serve as the Southwest Texas (now Rio 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.
Bishop and Mayé Saenz have four adult children and nine grandchildren, all active in the life of The United Methodist Church. Two of their sons, Aaron and Ruben III, are pastors of growing congregations in the Rio Texas Conference.
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Banquet on November 14 on the campus of SMU. The banquet will also recognize the 2021 Award recipient, Evelyn Parker, and the 2020 Award recipients, the Rev. Donald W. Underwood and the Rev. Dr. Sidney G. Hall, III. The event takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. in SMU's Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom (Umphrey Lee Center, 3300 Dyer Street, Dallas, TX 75205). Cost is $55 per person or $550 for a table of 10. Purchase tickets here.
Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

*Rev. Connie Nelson is the Executive Director of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations for Perkins.
**Matt Jacob is the Director of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations for Perkins.
***J. Vance Morton is the Director of Communications & IT for the Central Texas Conference UMC.