The University Senate of the United Methodist Church recently voted to designate Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (LPTS) as Approved for Listing, without Qualification, for the preparation of candidates for ordination in the United Methodist Church. Every four years the United Methodist University Senate (of the Global Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the UMC) examines and recertifies non-UMC seminaries as approved places to train UMC members for ordination.
“Louisville Seminary has for many years been deeply committed to the formation and theological education of men and women entering a variety of forms of ministry in the United Methodist Church,” said Seminary President Michael Jinkins. “We are grateful for the confidence the Methodist Church continues to have in our faculty, administration and students.”
Approval by the UMC University Senate is prerequisite to institutional claim of affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Only institutions affiliated with the United Methodist Church through approval by the University Senate are eligible for funding by annual conferences, the General Conference, general boards, or other agencies of the United Methodist Church. To qualify for affiliation with the United Methodist Church, institutions must not only maintain appropriate academic accreditation, but also offer superior instruction in core disciplines and reflect values consistent with those of the United Methodist Church. Such values include, for example, attention to leadership skills for evangelism, and for the building up of local congregations; racial and gender inclusiveness; and ecumenical and interfaith collaboration.
In addition to drawing on its own strengths for the education of United Methodist students, in December of 2014 Louisville Seminary signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UMC-affiliated Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. The memorandum will permit Louisville Seminary students to cross-register for courses at Garrett-Evangelical and vice versa, thus enhancing the instruction available to students at both schools.
Assessment of church relationships is also part of the process for those institutions seeking approval of the Senate for affiliation with the United Methodist Church. More than 100 Louisville Seminary graduates are currently serving with United Methodist congregations or other United Methodist-related ministries, with approximately two-thirds of them serving as pastors.
Although the seminary reports no other official ministry formation agreements are currently in place, the institution has pursued extensive ecumenical ties through its Doors to Dialog (D2D) initiative and prepares candidates for ministry from a number of Christian denominations.
Louisville Seminary trains men and women for ministry from many Methodist traditions, including the predominantly African American Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME), African Methodist Episcopal (AME), and African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) churches, all of which have in the past identified Louisville Seminary as an institution for training their respective ministers. Louisville Seminary also has strong ties to the Anglican Church through Bishop Terry White and the Diocese of Kentucky.
In his letter of endorsement to the UMC General Board of Higher Education Ministry, Louisville Episcopal Area Resident Bishop Lindsey Davis said: “I have seen firsthand how crucial Louisville Seminary is to our mission of discovering, developing and sending effective clergy into our churches. Our students get a high quality theological education at Louisville Seminary, and the seminary is a welcoming, ecumenical environment.”