John Wesley carefully intertwined education with faith when he formed the Methodist tradition as a student movement at the University of Oxford in 1729, and later founded Kingswood School in 1748. Nearly three hundred years later, the tradition of Wesleyan education has lifted millions out of poverty, swept the fervor for social justice across every continent of the earth and created space for society’s most marginalized people to step forward and claim their voice as principled Christian leaders.
At the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), we are proud to be a part of this tradition. We are proud to connect and support thousands of United Methodist and Methodist-related schools around the globe. And, we are proud to stand by our schools as they face the headwinds of change.
In June of 2019, Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, president of Claremont School of Theology, shared his white paper, “The Future of Global Methodist Education,” at the historic joint meeting of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC), the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU), and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools (AUMTS). Kuan reminded us of the power of our Methodist educational heritage, the role it has played in the expansion of educational access and how it prepares us for this singularly challenging moment in the life of the Church and the world.
He reviewed troubling trends that have become all too familiar in recent years: the rising costs of college operation and the shrinking college-age population. These challenges – combined with the current crisis in The United Methodist Church regarding the “Wesleyan tradition of inclusion and the benefits that inclusivity reaps for all God’s people”– have created a perilous landscape for our United Methodist and Methodist-related schools.
Yet, it is because of these very challenges that our schools are more important than ever. The Church and the world desperately need their voices and their influence right now.
As Kuan observed, our schools carry on the tradition of Wesleyan education through three essential characteristics:
- “Marrying” vital piety and true learning
- Instilling a sense of service
- Making education available to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized
We encourage you to read Kuan’s white paper and invite you to answer his call to uphold the heritage of Wesleyan education:
- Unite vital piety and true learning so future generations will grow not only in knowledge, but also in principle and conscience.
- Instill a sense of service so that our graduates continue to share their gifts and skills for the transformation of the world.
- Open the doors of education to the marginalized, so all people may claim their voice and answer God’s call.
This is no small task, but GBHEM will walk beside our schools and students every step of the way. Our agency unequivocally supports the findings and goals of Kuan’s paper. We will unequivocally support our schools in their mission and ministry into the future.
Our schools, colleges, universities and seminaries are the torch bearers of a faith tradition born through education. In the days ahead, we will be creating new opportunities for them to share their voices and experiences with church leaders.
We hope you’ll join us.
Acting General Secretary
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
The United Methodist Church
P.S. Convened by GBHEM, NASCUMC and representatives from the Council of Bishops have agreed to meet in November 2019 to discuss the impact of the Church’s issues on our U.S.-based institutions. Further, leadership from United Methodist institutions of higher education from around the world will gather for a joint meeting in January 2020 to hold a “fearless dialogue” as they address these same issues. To learn more, please contact Communications@GBHEM.org.