President's Note on United Methodist Church Decision, 2/27/19.


President’s Note on United Methodist Church Decision, 2/27/19

Dear Drew community members,

Since its founding as a theological seminary in 1867, Drew University has been a Methodist institution of higher learning. We are proud of that legacy, which has shaped Drew’s commitment to the intellectual and moral formation of students for service in the world. Our Theological School is one of the thirteen official seminaries of the church.

Yesterday in St. Louis, the United Methodist Church General Conference, the denomination’s governing body, voted to adopt legislation that further restricts the rights of and enforces consequences on LGBTQ members, clergy, and allies. Of particular concern is the ordination of LGBTQ+ clergy and same-gender marriage.

We are proud of our Methodist heritage of social justice and the centuries-long commitment of the Methodist Church to making education accessible to all people throughout the world. The decision made today contradicts our University’s policies on non-discrimination and inclusion. I want to assure the community that Drew will not vacillate in its commitment to a fully inclusive community of learning, and as its mission states, to welcome a “diverse community of learners.” The University has clear policies that protect all students, faculty, and staff, which can be found here. The actions of the General Conference reflect the divided nature of our society, but they do not reflect the values and commitments of Drew University. Drew University stands firm in those commitments.

I know that the decisions made at the General Conference are painful for many in our community, particularly our Theological School, which has a long and proud tradition of work toward social justice. The school’s commitment to racial, gender, sexual identity, and environmental justice is one of its defining characteristics. That work will continue, and Drew’s global reputation as a University committed to diversity and inclusion, and to the freedom of thought and speech, will not be impacted by this decision.

The Theological School has scheduled two forums to debrief and further explore the implications of these decisions. Those sessions will take place on Wednesday, March 13 at noon and on Thursday, March 14 at 6 p.m., both in Seminary Hall. We encourage anyone interested in these matters to attend.

Best regards,
MaryAnn Baenninger