Methodist Affiliation FAQs
United Methodist Church Affiliation FAQs
What is Mount Union’s history with the United Methodist Church?
Although Mount Union was not established by church efforts, its founder and early faculty members were dedicated Methodist laymen. One of the articles in the charter of the institution looked to the day when Mount Union would come under the patronage of some annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Pittsburgh Annual Conference “heartily endorsed” the new University in 1858, but it was not until 1864 that Mount Union was granted full patronage by the conference.
What is the timetable for disaffiliation with the United Methodist Church?
The disaffiliation is effective immediately.
How will this decision impact the institution’s accreditation status?
The University will no longer maintain accreditation by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church (UMC), an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with the UMC. The decision to disaffiliate will not impact the institution’s accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission or other bodies.
How will this decision impact student scholarship funding?
The University does not receive direct financial support from the UMC, but some of our students receive financial aid/scholarship support because they attend a school that is affiliated with the UMC. The Board of Trustees has committed to replacing for current students, including those admitted for the fall of 2019, any financial aid for which they are no longer eligible because of the disaffiliation decision.
How will this decision impact Mount Union’s academic curriculum?
There will be no impact on the institution’s academic curriculum. The University takes seriously its responsibility to foster the academic study of religious experience and will continue to do so.
In light of this decision, what will be the future role of the Dewald Chapel on campus?
The Dewald Chapel will continue to serve all students on campus and offer worship services for faiths based in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Dewald Chapel, in combination with designated interfaith worship spaces on campus, serves as the hub of spiritual life for students.
What is the spiritual make-up of Mount Union’s student body?
Among Mount Union students, the largest group, almost a quarter (23%), self-identify as Catholic. Students from Protestant denominations make up about 40% of the student body; of these Protestant students, about 7% identify as Methodist or United Methodist. A number of other faith traditions are represented on campus, including non-Christian faiths. A significant number of students (35%) either haven’t expressed a religious affiliation or indicated no preference.
Will the role of the University chaplain change?
The University chaplain is responsible for chapel programming, staff, overseeing campus ministry, and advising spiritual life groups of all faiths and non-faiths. The chaplain provides direction for the religious and spiritual life of the University and works collaboratively with all areas of the University to promote diversity, inclusivity, and the overall mission of Mount Union. The University chaplain will remain committed to these responsibilities.
Will the University continue to offer a robust and active spiritual life program on campus?
Mount Union affirms the spiritual center of all persons and acknowledges the deep impact that spiritual and religious experience has on both cultures and individuals. The institution remains committed to providing resources that nurture and enrich the spiritual life of our students and all members of the Mount Union community.
During the spring Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees authorized the creation of a special committee, to involve members of the Board, the University chaplain, faculty members, administrators, students, and alumni, in a planning process focused on strengthening the University’s campus ministry and spiritual life programs. The committee will focus on how Mount Union can continue to provide to community members valuable opportunities to explore issues of faith and spirituality.
Will a Baccalaureate ceremony continue to be part of the Commencement weekend activities?
The University will continue to offer a Baccalaureate service that is an ecumenical celebration of the spirit of Mount Union. The service, in recent years, has presented an opportunity to give thanks for the diversity and wisdom gained from one another. Through music, readings, and reflections, participants gather as a community to celebrate the accomplishments of the members of the graduating class while challenging them to claim a bold and bright future of fulfilling lives, meaningful work, and responsible citizenship.
How will this decision impact community partnerships with religious-affiliated organizations?
The University does not foresee an impact on these partnerships and plans to continue to work with such entities to carry out spiritual life, community service, and other collaborative initiatives.
Will the disaffiliation impact the institution’s hiring or recruitment practices?
No. Mount Union’s hiring and recruitment practices will remain unchanged.
The University of Mount Union prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, veteran status, marital or parental status, pregnancy, disability, or genetic information, in student admissions, financial aid, educational or athletic programs, or employment as now, or may hereafter be, required by university policy and federal or state law.
How did the results of the recent survey inform the Board of Trustees decision to disaffiliate with the UMC?
The survey results helped the Board of Trustees understand that alumni and other constituents care deeply about this issue. The results also clearly illustrated that there was no clear consensus regarding the issue among the constituents who responded. The survey results, as well as additional forms of feedback, facts, and data points, were carefully considered as the Board of Trustees fulfilled its role as the leaders of the institution and carried out their responsibility to do what they believed is in the best interest of the institution and its students.
If a new, more inclusive Methodist denomination emerges in the future, will the University consider affiliation?
The Board of Trustees will monitor developments and has full authority to decide on such matters in the future.