Presidents and representatives of United Methodist colleges and universities across the U.S. are urging United Methodist General Conference delegates to follow an inclusive path as they chart the future of the church.
Delegates of The United Methodist Church’s special General Conference will meet Feb. 23-26 to discuss church policy in relation to human sexuality – specifically toward those who identify as LGBTQ.
On Jan. 4, members of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) signed a joint statement urging church leaders to secure full and fair access for all individuals to the church and its ministries.
“We call upon the leaders of the United Methodist Church at this 2019 Called General Conference to honor the past and current practices of inclusion by amending their policies and practices to affirm full inclusion in the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church of all persons regardless of their race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, gender, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation,” write the NASCUMC members.
NASCUMC is a voluntary organization that was initiated by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) – the United Methodist leadership development agency – and it wields considerable influence as the second-largest group of denominationally affiliated educational institutions in the United States. Its members serve more than 260,000 students across the United States.
Presidents and representatives from NASCUMC institutions gathered to sign the statement and discuss other joint educational priorities at a two-day conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The timing of their meeting is significant in relation to the church’s upcoming special General Conference.
The 2016 General Conference directed the UMC Council of Bishops to propose ways for the church to maintain unity in the face of ongoing disagreements about human sexuality. Convening a Commission on a Way Forward, the bishops and several United Methodists developed three proposals for the future of the church. While the General Conference typically meets quadrennially, a special General Conference is meeting this year to consider the commission’s three proposals.
Speaking in their roles as prominent United Methodist education leaders, NASCUMC members hope their statement will influence delegates of the special General Conference to approve legislation that creates an open and welcoming environment in the church for members of the LGBTQ community.
In their statement, the NASCUMC members note that United Methodists have a long history as proponents of social justice and broad educational access. They argue that this legacy makes it incumbent on religious leaders to support a more broadly inclusive community.
“Historically, the Church has witnessed a profound commitment to the sacred worth of all persons and to social justice, such as the Church’s position on civil rights, women’s rights, and the rights of different ethnic communities,” the resolution states.
Readers can view the full NASCUMC statement here.
NASCUMC comprises 119 member institutions, including 93 colleges and universities, 13 seminaries, 11 historically black institutions and several private secondary schools. NASCUMC is assisted by GBHEM’s Division of Higher Education.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.