Eastern Mennonite Seminary shares a special relationship with The United Methodist Church (UMC) in theological education, having been approved by the church’s University Senate for the training of candidates for ordination and in 2014 received the good news of renewed quadrennial approval. A significant number of United Methodist students are enrolled at EMS and will seek to be ordained.
The United Methodist Church maintains close contact with its students at EMS through classes in United Methodist studies and by frequent on-campus visits from United Methodist representatives such as the Harrisonburg District Superintendent, the Director of Ministerial Services of the Virginia Conference, the Bishop of the Virginia Conference, and a variety of personnel from other conferences.
To strengthen these relationships EMS made two major moves. First, Dr. David Evans, Assistant Professor of History, Mission, Intercultural, and Interfaith Studies, is a member of the United Methodist Church. Although Evans’ teaching and scholarship focus more broadly than on United Methodist resources, he also teaches courses required by United Methodist ordination and is cognizant of United Methodist perspectives in faculty and seminary community life conversations.
Second, EMS has established a partnership with Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, through which a significant number of United Methodist courses are provided to EMS students, sometimes on the Wesley campus and often on the EMS campus or online. Wesley also provides a part-time United Methodist advisor. The United Methodist advisor and EMS deans provide liaison to Wesley, the Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the Office of Ministerial Services as follows:
A. Educational and training needs of the board of ordained ministry
- Oversight or provision of courses related to United Methodist history, doctrine, polity evangelism, mission and worship;
- Support for persons preparing for ordination in the UMC;
- Training and continuing theological education for the orders of elder and deacon.
B. Relational ties with office of ministerial services of the Virginia Conference
- Develop lines of communication and support for persons seeking ordination in the UMC
- Provide linkage with Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for information and interpretation of the EMS program with UMC students.
The UM adviser, oversees or implements such activities as:
- Teaching or arranging for provision of UMC classes required by the January 27, 2011 policy approved by the United Methodist Senate;
- Relating to and mentoring UMC students;
- Contributing to a thriving UM ethos at EMS including appreciation for the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church;
- Consulting with EMS faculty and staff on issues relating to UMC students;
- Consulting with other Wesley or EMS faculty who teach UM courses.
John Wesley Partners, a giving opportunity to support Methodist students at EMU, also undergirds EMS services on behalf of Methodist students.