Spencer Perkins, an emerging leader in the racial-reconcilation movement, died January 27 at his home in Jackson, Mississippi, of heart failure. Perkins, 43, is survived by his wife, Nancy, and three young children.
Perkins's father, evangelical leader John Perkins, 65, issued a statement saying, "Spencer now sees clearly what I still see only dimly through a glass.
"Spencer is the one who invited me to Sunday school in 1957, out of which I came to know Jesus Christ," his father said.
Wayne Gordon, who cofounded the Christian Community Development Association with John Perkins, said, "It's the wrong time in his life for [Spencer] to leave us. A few months ago, we were prepared for John to die." The elder Perkins has had successful surgery for prostate cancer.
Gordon said that Spencer, with his writing and speaking partner, Chris Rice, had forged "the most dynamic, deepest, strongest black-white relationship in the country—there's none like it."
Rice and Spencer Perkins directed the International Study Center of the Voice of Calvary Ministries, founded by John Perkins in the early 1970s in Jackson. The twosome served as top editors for Reconcilers magazine (formerly Urban Family) to champion the message of racial reconciliation and community development among evangelicals. In 1993, they coauthored More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel (IVP).
At the funeral, Rice gave an emotional remembrance of his "yokefellow." Rice said, "I stand before you as a witness that racial reconciliation is possible."
Just three days before his death, Perkins blacked out while at an ethnicity and reconciliation conference hosted by Reconcilers Fellowship. He recovered from what turned out to be a diabetic seizure and insisted on delivering his closing address to the gathering. "Spencer outlined a new vision for a higher level of reconciliation—a call to radical grace among the races," recalls Rice. "He had been eager to deliver this message, and we thank God that he did."
The John M. Perkins Foundation (P.O. Box 32, Jackson, MS 39205) has established the Perkins' Children Fund for the children's educational expenses.
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