May 2019 – Drew University’s Board of Trustees is calling for a more inclusive expression of Methodism following The United Methodist Church’s move to ban same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ clergy.
In a statement, the trustees of Drew also reaffirmed their commitment to proudly welcome students, faculty and staff who are LGBTQ+. Here’s the full statement:
“As those charged with honoring and advancing the rich legacy of Drew University, we have watched the developments taking place within The United Methodist Church with grave concern. We object to the decision of the Church’s General Conference to maintain prohibitions on same-sex marriage, exclude LGBTQ+ persons from the clergy, and increase punitive actions against those who resist these measures.
“Drew University has prepared individuals for the ministries of the Church for over 150 years. We have trained bishops, superintendents, general secretaries, and pastors to serve throughout the world. We sent forth missionaries who founded schools, universities, hospitals, and led movements of social transformation, most notably Henry Appenzeller, the first Methodist missionary to Korea. We count among our alumnae some of the first women to be ordained in the Methodist Church and the first openly gay bishop in The United Methodist Church. We are a leader in educating future faculty for theological seminaries around the globe, and have a long and proud history of empowering leadership for communities of color in the United States and a diversity of communities internationally. We’re home to the United Methodist Archives and History Center, which daily welcomes Methodist/Wesleyan scholars from far and wide. Our Methodist roots run deep and they continue to animate the values of this institution.
“Yet, our connection to the church has been severely undermined and compromised by the actions of the recent special session of General Conference. Throughout our history, our Wesleyan tradition has informed our commitment to welcome and prepare a diverse student body, faculty, and administration for leadership in the Church and in the world. We are proud to welcome, without reservation, students, faculty, and staff who are LGBTQ+. Our commitment to them will not waver, even as they rightly question our affiliation with a church that discriminates against them. Church statements affirming that all people are ‘welcome’ and ‘of sacred worth’ notwithstanding, the actions and proposed punishments of the Traditional Plan adopted by General Conference are harsh and severely harmful to LGBTQ+ persons and allies and to our entire community.
“The University will not support or enforce Church policies that discriminate against anyone. We will continue to educate and train leaders from all backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities for leadership in the church and world. We will also continue to closely evaluate our relationship with The United Methodist Church, supporting efforts that seek to develop new expressions of Methodism. It is our intention to work with movements that are informed by an expansive theological scholarship and our historic Wesleyan values that respect diversity and fully welcome and value the gifts of the LGBTQ+ community.
“This is a sad time for the Board of Trustees and the University. We have welcomed, celebrated, and supported our relationship with The United Methodist Church, and will continue to do so, but cautiously until a more inclusive expression of Methodism emerges.
“This is our commitment to our collective past, present, and future.”
About Drew University
Drew University, a Phi Beta Kappa liberal arts university, includes the College of Liberal Arts, the Drew Theological School and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Drew is located on a beautiful, wooded, 186-acre campus in Madison, New Jersey, a thriving small town close to New York City. It has total enrollment of more than 2,000 students and 148 full-time faculty members, 99% of whom hold the terminal degree in their field. The Theological and Caspersen schools offer master’s and PhD degrees and the College of Liberal Arts confers BA and BS degrees in more than 30 disciplines.
Drew is dedicated to exceptional faculty mentorship, a commitment to connecting the campus with the community and a focus on experiential learning, as exemplified by Launch, a new, leading edge path to undergraduate education that syncs career development with rigorous academics and powerful community. Particularly noteworthy opportunities for undergraduates include the Charles A. Dana Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE), home of 2015 Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine and Drew Fellow William Campbell, the Drew Summer Science Institute (DSSI), the Center for Civic Engagement, New York City Semesters focusing on Wall Street, the United Nations, Contemporary Art, Theatre, Social Entrepreneurship and Communications and Media and several international semester programs. Drew also houses the Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict, the Social Justice Leadership Project, the Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, an independent professional theater, as well as the United Methodist Archives and History Center and one of the country’s leading concentrations of materials on Willa Cather.