Two Baptist-affiliated schools are among six “recommended educational institutions” approved by the new Global Methodist Church.
The GMC is a breakaway group from The United Methodist Church created largely over disagreements about LGBTQ inclusion and acceptance. The UMC is perceived as more gay-friendly, even though its governing documents still outlaw the ordination of anyone in a same-sex relationship. The GMC offers a more conservative or “traditionalist” option on this and other issues that are driving American churches today.
Baylor University’s Truett Seminary and Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School are among the six “recommended” seminaries for clergy seeking ordination within the new Methodist body. Both Baylor and Samford have made national headlines in recent years as the universities struggle to stake out a place in the most divisive issue in modern American religious life.
All six schools listed as “recommended” by the GMC had to apply for that designation.
Samford’s president and other administrators have banned local ministries that affirm same-sex marriage, prompting protests from students and alumni alike. Beeson, which was created as an ecumenical seminary, largely has stayed out of the fray.
Baylor’s administration and board of regents have been walking a fine line on LGBTQ issues for years, with some students and alumni lobbying for greater inclusion while the regents continue to hold the line against most any change. Truett Seminary, however, has been more explicit in its anti-LGBTQ stance by prohibiting students from taking field placements in churches that are inclusive and more recently by hiring two new faculty members closely associated with formation of the GMC.
Earlier this month, Truett Seminary named former UMC Bishop Scott Jones as affiliate professor and pastor-theologian in residence at Truett’s Wesley House of Studies. Jones is one of the most high-profile defectors to the GMC.
In November, Jason Vickers was named to lead Truett’s Wesley House and to be the first holder of an academic chair in Wesleyan studies. Vickers serves as a theological adviser to the GMC and serves as chairman of the task force crafting the new denomination’s catechism.
At its founding in 1991, Truett Seminary was perceived as a more progressive and inclusive option to the six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries. That perception has shifted in recent years under the leadership of Dean Todd Still and as Baylor University has been pressed to more clearly take a stand on inclusion.
All six schools listed as “recommended” by the GMC had to apply for that designation, according to Keith Boyette, chief executive of the GMC. Then they were vetted to “ensure adherence to (the GMC’) doctrinal and ethical principles.”
The other four schools now recommended by the GMC include Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.; Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio; United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio; and Wesley Biblical Seminary in Ridgeland, Miss.