At their annual January meeting, members of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) voted to change the membership policies governing their organization.
“With this vote, we’ve begun an approximately six-month-long process to broaden our membership and open our organization to educators in the Pan-Methodist tradition both in and outside the United States,” said Scott Miller, president of NASCUMC and of Virginia Wesleyan University.
NASCUMC was initiated by the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and is a voluntary organization that serves more than 100 United Methodist-related schools, colleges, universities and seminaries in the U.S. Under their current guidelines, schools are only eligible for membership if they are located in the United States and directly affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
The recent vote expands membership eligibility to primary and secondary institutions that were founded by or are related to the Methodist tradition in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. NASCUMC leaders noted that schools in Mexico could also request to join the revamped organization, but many are already served by the Latin American Association of Methodist Educational Institutions.
“GBHEM has a long history of bringing together Wesleyan educators from around the world. We look forward to aiding this growing coalition as it strengthens the bonds of academics and faith throughout North America,” said Rev. Greg Bergquist, general secretary of GBHEM.
The vote also approved plans to change the organization’s name from NASCUMC to the North American Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAAMSCU).
“This is an exciting change for us because it will provide more opportunities for collaboration with educators who share our Wesleyan values and the Methodist commitment to educational empowerment,” said Amy Novak, NASCUMC first vice president and president of Dakota Wesleyan University.
All current NASCUMC members will automatically become a part of NAAMSCU. In order to join the association, new members must demonstrate either a formal affiliation with The United Methodist Church or a historic association with the Methodist tradition in North America. This would, for example, open membership to schools that identify with the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“This vote sets a process for change in motion and we anticipate that the full transition to NAAMSCU will be complete some time in midsummer. Until then, NASCUMC will continue to operate under the same principles that have always guided its membership,” said Mark Hanshaw, NASCUMC secretary and GBHEM associate general secretary for the Division of Higher Education.
Any institutions interested in joining NAAMSCU later this year should contact the GBHEM Division of Higher Education at DHE@gbhem.org.
About GBHEM: The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry embraces the ministry of learning and leadership formation in The United Methodist Church and the Wesleyan tradition; serving Christians around the world who are shaped by a process of intellectual engagement, spiritual and character formation, and leadership development. We cultivate a dynamic culture of call and vocational discernment that encourages lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in God’s ministry and mission for the Church, the academy and the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.