Two United Methodist theological schools will retain their denominational affiliation and have embargoed Ministerial Education Fund money reinstated, following a June 24 decision by the University Senate.
The Senate is the sanctioning body within the denomination that determines which schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
A June 25 statement issued by University Senate president Marianne Inman states the agency "examined the institutional reviews of Claremont School of Theology and United Theological Seminary and recommended rescinding the public warning of the two seminaries."
Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology and United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, were placed on public warning Jan. 21. An embargo on their Methodist Education Fund allocations took effect Feb. 1.
The Senate cited both schools' failure to transmit their most current audit and management letter, as well as United's audit and management letter from the previous year. Claremont also was cited for failing to consult fully with United Methodist authorities in a "substantial reorientation" of the institution's mission and proposed transformation from a school of theology to a university with schools of ministry.
The "substantial reorientation" refers to Claremont's participation in the University Project, an ecumenical partnership that creates one of the first accredited institutions to train students of multiple faiths for careers as clerics.
A UMNS photo courtesy of United Theological Seminary.
Both schools had to submit their most recent budgets and a five-year business plan, and each hosted an on-site inspection by the Senate. In addition, Claremont had to undergo a full institutional review to evaluate its new mission, formal acts of incorporation, organizational structure and operation.
Inman's statement says, "Upon receipt of outstanding financial audits from (both schools)," and in consultation with the denomination's General Council on Finance and Administration and Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the embargo was suspended and the funds will be remitted to each school no later than June 30.
The action means both schools will continue to be officially listed as affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Jerry D. Campbell, Claremont's president, said the announcement "came as a big relief."
"I think that the review came about in the first place because some people were worried that we were turning a United Methodist-related seminary into something very different. But we were able to show the review committee that we had no such plans. Our United Methodist ties are extremely important to us."
*Butler is editor of 18-34 content for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.