Noted Political, Church Leader Emanuel Cleaver II Preached at Perkins


Emanuel Cleaver II
Rev. Emanuel Cleaver II

DALLAS – U.S. Representative and United Methodist clergyman Emanuel Cleaver II was the guest preacher on Thursday, February 19, during the regular 11:30 a.m. worship service in Perkins Chapel, located at 6001 Bishop Boulevard on the Southern Methodist University campus.

Sponsored by the Perkins School of Theology Black Seminarians Association, the theme for the Black History Month worship service was “We’ve Come This Far by Faith and We Won’t Stop Now!” Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, representative of the 30th Congressional District of Texas, gave the welcome remarks.

Born in Waxahachie, Texas, in 1944, Rev. Cleaver is best known as the first African American mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. He was raised in a public housing project in Wichita Falls, Texas, and earned a B.S. in Sociology from Prairie View A&M University in Texas, in 1968. After graduating from Prairie View, he moved to Kansas City where he founded a local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He also received an M.A. in Divinity from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, and was pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City from 1972–2009. During that time, the congregation grew from 47 members to more than 2,000. 

He was first elected to public office in 1979 as a City Councilman in Kansas City. He remained on the Council for 12 years before running for mayor in 1991. Cleaver won and served as mayor until 1999. After leaving office he served briefly in the Clinton Administration as Special Urban Advisor to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo. During his time as Kansas City mayor, Rev. Cleaver was recognized for stimulating economic growth, improving the city’s infrastructure, and creating youth outreach programs to combat crime. Shortly after his tenure as mayor, the city honored him by designating one of its major thoroughfares as “Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard.” In 2005, Rev. Cleaver won the congressional seat for the Fifth District of Missouri, which includes Kansas City.

The Black History Chapel Service was open to the public. For more information about the chapel service and Rev. Cleaver’s visit, contact Ailey Pope, chair of the Black Seminarians Association at Perkins,

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, and Doctor of Ministry, as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.