Update (Aug. 31): Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) has dropped its membership in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).
In July, two of the council's then 123 member schools in North America decided to permit same-sex marriage for faculty and staff. OKWU believes the CCCU's "deliberate and consultative process" of seeking one-on-one reactions from all member schools is instead harmful "ambivalence."
“We believe in missional clarity and view the defense of the biblical definition of marriage as an issue of critical importance,” said Everett Piper, president of the Bartlesville, Okla., school, in a press release. “The CCCU’s reluctance to make a swift decision sends a message of confusion rather than conviction.”
On Aug. 29, the CCCU issued its own statement, saying that it would convene a special members-only conference call on September 21 to discuss the membership of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and Goshen College [see previous reporting below].
"We understand not all schools agree with the process we have chosen to take, as was demonstrated through the Aug. 3 withdrawal of Union University," noted the CCCU, which has finished consulting 90 percent of its member school presidents. "It is our prayer this issue will not further divide the CCCU, but rather result in clarifying our identity as an association and fostering supportive unity of each other in our respective missions and calling from the Lord."
According to a local radio station in Oklahoma:
President Piper [says] the council's ambivalence in deciding the status of two member institutions that have advised CCCU they will permit same-sex couples to be employed as faculty members indicates that it is time for Oklahoma Wesleyan to move in a different direction.
OKWU has an enrollment of 900 students. The CCCU now comprises 121 members in North America, including 3 in Canada and 2 US schools that joined this August. When affiliates are included, it comprises 156 institutions in North America. One of the possible solutions being discussed is for EMU and Goshen to be demoted to affiliate status.
[Update Aug. 14:] More member schools of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) may bolt if the status of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and Goshen College is not resolved soon.
Last month, the two Mennonite schools changed their policies on marriage. Both now allow faculty and staff to be in same-sex marriages. The CCCU board is consulting with the presidents of all member schools on what to do next.
Earlier this week, Union University withdrew from the CCCU, saying the decision-making process is taking too long. World reports that several other schools, including Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU), may do the same.
Everett Piper, president of OKWU, told World he will announce a decision on whether to leave by August 31.
Piper called the CCCU process “bewildering.”
“Unfortunately, now,” he told World, “even if they ultimately do the right thing and remove EMU and Goshen from membership, the damage is done.”
Shapri D. LoMaglio, CCCU vice president for government and external relations, said that no member schools have officially given the council a deadline. She said that the board has spoken with more than half of the CCCU’s 120 members in the past two weeks.
“Our board considers this a top priority and is moving with all due diligence and urgency,” she said.