Perkins School of Theology names Rev. Karen Greenwaldt 2014 Distinguished Alumna

Rev. Karen Greenwaldt Photo couresy GBOG

Rev. Karen Greenwaldt
Photo couresy GBOG

Dallas, Texas – The Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship from 2001–2013, has been named the 2014 Perkins School of Theology Distinguished Alumna. A clergy member of the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference, Rev. Greenwaldt earned the Master of Theology degree from Perkins in 1977. The Distinguished Alumna Award will be presented Monday, February 3, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. during a banquet as part of Perkins School of Theology’s Ministers Week.

The annual Distinguished Alumnus/a Awards recognize Perkins graduates who have demonstrated effectiveness and integrity in service to the church, continuing support and involvement in the goals of Perkins School of Theology and SMU, distinguished service in the wider community, and exemplary character.

Rev. Greenwaldt served as General Secretary (chief executive) of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) from her election in 2001 through her retirement in December 2013. GBOD is one of 13 councils, boards, and commissions that carry out the work of The United Methodist Church. As General Secretary, Greenwaldt served as chief executive officer of an organization tasked with providing training, support, and resources for clergy and laity leaders in the areas of spiritual growth and development, devotional literature, curriculum resources, Christian education, evangelism, worship, stewardship, and ministry of the laity in a global denomination numbering approximately 12 million members.

Bishop D. Max Whitfield, Bishop in Residence at Perkins School of Theology, praised Greenwaldt’s selfless leadership. “Rev. Greenwaldt is one of only a handful of Level 5 Leaders in General Church leadership,” Bishop Whitfield observed. “She always places the advancement of the Kingdom of God above her own personal dreams and achievement. She was the individual from whom the other General Secretaries and many of the Council of Bishops members sought direction when major issues and the future direction of the denomination were needed.”

Rev. Greenwaldt first came to the General Board of Discipleship as an elected member of the GBOD’s Board of Directors from 1980–1981. She joined the GBOD staff in September 1981, serving as Director of Church Leader Development and Director of Education and Ministries with Young Adults and Single Adults, and later as Associate General Secretary, Administrator and Team Leader of the Discipleship Ministries Division. Before serving with GBOD, Rev. Greenwaldt was the Associate Council Director for the Central Texas Conference. She also served as an associate pastor and a hospital chaplain.

“Karen was the first female ordained as an elder in the Central Texas Conference,” said the Rev. Jeannie Treviño-Teddlie, director of the Mexican American Program and the United Methodist Regional Course of  Study School at Perkins. “She is highly regarded in the Central Texas Conference, as evidenced by her election as a clergy delegate to the 2004 and 2008 General Conference and South Central Jurisdictional Conference. In 2012 she was elected as a reserve clergy delegate to the General Conference and South Central Jurisdictional Conference.”

Kim Simpson, Lay Leader of the Central Texas Conference, echoed Treviño-Teddlie’s expression of esteem. “I have found Karen to possess wonderful leadership skills. She has been able to grow the service of GBOD in creative and productive ways.”

Prior to earning the Master of Theology degree from Perkins School of Theology, Rev. Greenwaldt received her B.S. from McMurry University, Abilene, Texas. She is author of Singles Care One for AnotherFor Everything There is a Season, andOrganizing in the Small Membership Church, as well as numerous articles on the vision and mission of the church.

Rev. Greenwaldt is married to Russell Harris, a full-time studio potter. They are active members of their local United Methodist congregation.

Tickets for the Distinguished Alumna Award Banquet are available for $49 each by registering at The banquet will be held Monday, February 3, 2014, at 6:00 p.m., in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall on the campus of Southern Methodist University. For more information about reservations for the banquet or about Perkins School of Theology Ministers Week, contact Pam Goolsby, associate director of Continuing Education, For more information about the Perkins School of Theology Distinguished Alumnus Award or this year’s recipient, contact the Office of Public Affairs,

This story provided by the Office of Public Affairs of the Perkins School of Theology

UMReporter Staff

This story was posted by a staff member of The United Methodist Reporter. For over 160 years The United Methodist Reporter has been helping the people called Methodist to tell their stories. If you have stories that you think need to be told, please let us know at

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