Board affirms support for LGBTQ community

At its May 17 meeting, the OWU Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution to “send a clear message” that it opposes the current policies of the United Methodist Church (UMC) that prohibit same-sex weddings and prevent members of the LGBTQ community from being ordained as UMC clergy.

According to the resolution, the board “remains unwavering in its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and expresses its full support of the LGBTQIA+ community and all marginalized groups, whose collective impact upon the University has been, and will continue to be, both positive and profound.”

The resolution followed a decision by Ohio Wesleyan in late April to request a delay in a 10-year site visit by the University Senate of the UMC scheduled for fall 2019. The one-year delay was requested in hopes that current discussions will result in a new form of Methodism that is fully inclusive in matters related to the LGBTQ community.

In sharing the announcement with campus, President Rock Jones wrote: “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 19th 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.…

“As we look to the future, however, I think it is important to note that Board affirms support for LGBTQ community the General Conference’s vote has no impact on OWU’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, including making campus facilities available for samesex weddings as has been our practice for many years. Nor does it have any impact on our governance, which is independent of Church control.”

Ohio Wesleyan’s ties to the United Methodist Church date back to its founding, when Methodist minister Adam Poe spearheaded efforts to raise funds, purchase property, and establish the University. Beeghly Library houses the Archives of Ohio United Methodism, a collection of books, manuscripts, pamphlets, periodicals, artifacts, and other materials. Ohio Wesleyan will continue to be listed as a United Methodist-affiliated school, but the church does not govern, fund, or set policies for Ohio Wesleyan, which enrolls and supports students of all faith traditions.

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