DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio Wesleyan University has requested that United Methodist Church officials delay a site visit scheduled for this fall. The site visits take place once every ten years to determine whether the school is “worthy” of its affiliation with the church.
Earlier this year, at a meeting of the General Conference of the Methodist Church, delegates voted to continue to forbid same-sex weddings and to prohibit the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors.
Ohio Wesleyan University President Rock Jones says the vote of the General Conference was out of line with the university’s long-standing principles.
“Those restrictions are fundamentally at odds with the values of Ohio Wesleyan and with our commitment of full inclusion and diversity and to be a campus that welcomes members of the LGBT plus community into all aspects of life on campus,” Jones said.
“We have delayed that visit for a year pending what I believe is likely to be the formation of a new form of Methodism that is fully inclusive and with which Ohio Wesleyan would be comfortable.”
The university issued the following statement this week:
Ohio Wesleyan University has requested that a 10-year site visit by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church scheduled for fall 2019 be delayed one year. The delay is requested in hopes that current discussions result in a new form of Methodism that is fully inclusive in matters related to the LGBTQIA+ community.
As the discussions continue, Ohio Wesleyan continues to be listed as an institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Regarding the relationship, President Rock Jones shared the following message with the campus community shortly after the February meeting of the global General Conference of the United Methodist Church:
“I write today to share my unwavering support for Ohio Wesleyan’s LGBTQIA+ community. … I am heartened by the growing numbers of Methodists calling on the Church to remember its commitment to the sacred worth of all people and to social justice, exemplified historically by its positions on civil rights, women’s rights, and the rights of different ethnic communities. …
“When leaders of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded Ohio Wesleyan and other colleges in the early nineteenth century, they expressed strong commitments to broad access to higher education and to the fundamental values of liberal education. Today, these commitments are embedded in our charter – as well as in our conscience and our character.
“Much of what we value about the culture of OWU has grown out of our history with the United Methodist Church. In particular, the deep commitment to service learning, the strong presence of international students on our campus, and the passion for social justice are legacies of the early Methodist influence and reflect values carried by John Wesley, our namesake and the founder of the Methodist movement.
“As we look to the future, however, I think it is important to note that the General Conference’s vote has no impact on OWU’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, including making campus facilities available for same sex weddings as has been our practice for many years. Nor does it have any impact on our governance, which is independent of Church control.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead a campus that expresses full support of the LGBTQIA+ community, including full inclusion in every form of leadership.”