John and Martha Hardt
As lifelong Methodists, Bishop John and Martha Hardt learned early of the importance of financial support for the institutions they loved. When John was serving the Oklahoma Area of the United Methodist Church, he helped to reorganize the Oklahoma Methodist Foundation, discovering the needs of the Area and the ways in which those needs could be met through philanthropic support.
Martha and John grew up in East Texas, and met while students at Lon Morris College. Both were able to attend because of work scholarships and they were mentored by Dr. Cecil Peeples, longtime president of the college. They transferred together to SMU, where John went on to graduate from Perkins School of Theology. He then followed his father into the ministry.
After serving churches in the Texas Annual Conference, John was the superintendent of the Houston East District when he was elected to the Episcopacy. He was Bishop of the Oklahoma Area for eight years until his retirement from active ministry in 1988. He returned to Perkins as Bishop-in- Residence until 2000, and since then he has served as Bishop-in-Residence Emeritus.
“A meaningful part of our lives has been to have a continuing witness at places that have been important in our lives and will be financially challenged in the future,” John says.
The Hardts have two endowments designated for Perkins School of Theology that provide support for the Bridwell Library Center for Methodist Studies and for scholarships. The scholarship endowment was established in 2000 by John’s former students to honor his influence in their lives. As charter members of the Dallas Hall Society, John and Martha have also established a bequest that will continue to provide scholarship funding to benefit students preparing for ministry.
The Hardts’ generosity is an inspiring example of sacrificial support for SMU and other organizations that have been important in their lives and the lives of others.