Evangelical Seminaries Re-Approved By UMC
In 2010, Christianity Todayreported that the United Methodist Church (UMC) had unexpectedly removed Evangelical Seminary from its list of schools approved to educate Methodist ministers. Last week, the denomination's University Senate voted to re-approve the seminary.
UMC originally removed the Pennsylvania seminary from its list because of the "lack of ethnic inclusiveness of faculty and staff, and the absence of full-time United Methodist faculty," according to a senate letter. At the time, 26 percent of Evangelical's nearly 200 students were Methodist.
In a press release, Evangelical president Tony Blair noted that the school is looking at creating a Center for Methodist Studies. "We appreciate the challenges facing United Methodist seminaries and wish to collaborate with them in serving the United Methodist denomination," he said.
The other seminary removed from the UMC's approved list in 2010, Palmer Theological Seminary, also in Pennsylvania, was reinstated last February (Editor's note: In the same item, CT reported that Evangelical was also re-approved last spring; however, it was only a temporary extension.) Both seminaries now appear on the UMC's approved list.
Complete press release from Evangelical Seminary is after the jump....
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2012
Evangelical Seminary Earns United Methodist Approval
University Senate of United Methodist Church Votes in Favor of Myerstown Education
(Myerstown, PA) – Evangelical Seminary is pleased to announce that the University Senate of the United Methodist Church (UMC) has voted to re-approve the school for the education of candidates for ordained ministry in their denomination. In an official letter from Gerald D. Lord, Executive Secretary of the University Senate of the UMC, the committee noted, "The University Senate is grateful for your faithful work and your commitment to theological education."
Evangelical's President Tony Blair shares, "For more than 15 years, we have met a vital need for United Methodist clergy in central Pennsylvania by providing them with a high-quality theological education and transformative preparation for ministry. We're absolutely delighted to be able to continue doing so."
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson (Philadelphia Area, UMC) was pleased to hear of the seminary's re-approval. She shared, "This is an acknowledgement of the quality education that is available for women and men at Evangelical, preparing for ministry in many avenues of service."
President Blair noted, "We appreciate the challenges facing United Methodist seminaries and wish to collaborate with them in serving the United Methodist denomination." For this reason, Evangelical Seminary is currently pursuing strategic partnerships with Drew Theological School and Asbury Theological Seminary, among others. Blair continues, "This relationship matters to us. We will even be looking this year at the possibility of creating a Center for Methodist Studies at Evangelical."
Jennifer Raudenbush, an MDiv candidate at Evangelical and lay leader at Salem United Methodist Church in Orwigsburg, PA, congratulated the seminary by saying, "Thanks be to God that the UMC has affirmed Evangelical Seminary's standard of excellence in both intellectually and spiritually preparing future church leaders! Evangelical produces Christ-centered, Spirit-filled leaders who serve the UMC, and all denominations, with passion, integrity, and vision."
Related to the approval process, Evangelical President Blair commented, "We are grateful for all the United Methodist leaders, clergy, and laypersons who spoke boldly on our behalf this past year, reminding the UMC of the excellence and value of Evangelical Seminary for the Methodists of central Pennsylvania and beyond."
This fall, Evangelical is launching a hybrid online program for a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership (pending approval). In addition, they are piloting "The Harrisburg MDiv of Evangelical Seminary" (pending approval), utilizing Messiah College's Harrisburg Institute at 28 Dewberry Street. Both programs are currently accepting applicants for Fall 2012. Open houses are planned for Thursday, April 12, in Myerstown and Monday, April 23, in Harrisburg, both at 6:30 pm.