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The United Methodist Church (UMC) lifted sanctions from Claremont School of Theology in June after vetting the seminary's proposal to educate imams and rabbis. The denomination also unexpectedly dropped two evangelical seminaries from its list of approved schools.

The denomination's University Senate froze Claremont's funds in January, asking for a full institutional review to evaluate the suburban Los Angeles school's proposed consortium with a Jewish rabbinical school and a Muslim school.

"We showed them we were going to stay a Christian seminary, and our intent wasn't to water down the Christian religion," said spokesperson Claudia Pearce. "Students will have certain curriculum in common so they can learn to understand each other and work together better."

The senate lifted the sanctions in June and restored the funds, specifying that they cannot be given to the non-Christian schools.

At the same meeting, the senate removed Evangelical Theological Seminary and Palmer Theological Seminary, both in Pennsylvania, from its list of schools approved to educate Methodist ministers.

The cuts begin a paring down of about 40 non-UMC schools that complement 13 UMC seminaries, said bishop and University Senate member William Willimon.

"We have a number of United Methodist seminaries that are really struggling [financially]," he said. "It's [an] encouragement for United Methodist students to go to United Methodist schools that need students." The senate considers whether an approved seminary offers classes on Methodist doctrine, employs any Methodist faculty, or is located near any official Methodist seminaries, Willimon said.

The removals came as a shock.

"At the very least, they could have called us and said they'd like to talk," said Mike ...

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September 2010

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