United will remain a United Methodist seminary
For the past 150 years, United Theological Seminary has been part of the United Methodist tradition, founded in connection with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, one of the forebearers of the current United Methodist denomination. Today, United is proudly one of 13 official seminaries of The United Methodist Church (UMC).
As The UMC continues to be deeply divided over issues regarding human sexuality and biblical interpretation, a new denomination in the Methodist tradition is emerging. The Global Methodist Church has announced it will formally launch on May 1, 2022. Many have asked what this means for United.
The United Board of Trustees has determined that United Theological Seminary will continue to serve God, our students and the Church universal as an official seminary of The United Methodist Church.
Currently about 200 of United’s 488 students are United Methodists, one of the largest enrollments of United Methodists in the 13 official seminaries. We also have students from 39 denominations, 39 states and 11 nations. 53% of our students are African American, making United one of the most racially inclusive seminaries in our denomination.
We welcome students from any denomination, including the new Global Methodist Church, who are inspired by our mission to prepare faithful and fruitful Christian leaders who make disciples of Jesus Christ.
United has a theologically diverse faculty representing a number of denominational backgrounds, including United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA), Pentecostal, Mennonite and Roman Catholic, all deeply committed to the seminary’s mission to prepare faithful and fruitful Christian leaders. We believe that learning about various theological perspectives helps students learn and grow in their faith. In fact, when asked about their academic experience at United, about 90% of our students tell us they feel their views are respected and they are taught to respect the views of others. An educational institution which provides only one perspective faces the challenge of being seen as indoctrinating students in one point of view rather than educating them to be able to make their own informed decisions.
I expect that some of our faculty, staff and students will choose to become members of the Global Methodist Church after it is launched on May 1. With faculty, staff and students already representing many Christian traditions, from Wesleyan to non-denominational, traditional to contemporary, high church to low church, conservative to progressive, and many expressions in between, we celebrate the Christian diversity we experience at United as a gift from God.
Personally, I plan to remain in The UMC. Since my ordination in June 1966, I have served as a United Methodist pastor, district superintendent and seminary president, and I will continue to serve as a United Methodist elder in whatever role God has for me.
We realize that this is a difficult time for many United Methodist clergy and congregations as they seek to discern what God is calling them to do in the midst of the impending separation in our denomination. We encourage all pastors and congregations to take time in studying the Scriptures and praying together as they discern what God is calling them to do in the future. We believe that out of these challenging, crucifying times God will bring resurrection and new life to all of us as we surrender ourselves into God’s loving hands. At United we are praying daily for all followers of Jesus Christ regardless of their decisions about their future.
The last words of our Risen Christ in Matthew’s Gospel are these: “And remember, I am with you always; to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Thanks be to God!
Grace and Peace
Dr. Kent Millard, President
United Theological Seminary