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Methodist Ethos

November 23, 2005

The other day in United Methodist Doctrine class we were having a discussion about the push by the denomination for Elder candidates to attend UMC seminaries.  It is apparently believed that attendance at a UMC seminary immerses students in a Methodist ethos and aids students in developing a particularly Methodist way of doing and being.  It certainly makes sense that swimming in Methodist waters might help develop and form one as a Methodist.

And yet my own experiences speak to a different perspective.  In attending an ecumenical seminary I find that my Methodism is brought out in interesting ways.  I have felt a push to discover more Wesleyan perspectives on theological issues and I am able to speak to the benefits of some particularly Methodist ways of doing things like Covenant Discipleship groups.  In other words, the contrast of theological perspectives has encouraged me to let my Methodist flag fly and to more strongly claim Wesley as a spiritual ancestor and conversation partner.  

I can’t speak credibly to how exactly a Methodist ethos is formed in a UMC seminary community so I encourage comments and discussion on the issue.  I would like to hear the perspectives of others.  I can say that being Methodist in an ecumenical community has allowed me to stick out like a sore thumb (in a really good way) and has pushed me to be more intentionally Methodist.  What is your perspective?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    November 30, 2005 9:05 pm

    Advantages and disadvantages either way. I would find it hard to be an intentional methodist in a non-methodist campus because I’m still learning what it means to be a methodist.

    Asbury, though it is not officially a UMC seminary, pushes a Wesleyan ethos hard. It’s deeply woven into the curriculum.

    But we have a lot of Pentecostals (among others) here, which adds to the flavor.

  2. Steve permalink
    December 17, 2005 11:32 am

    I think it’s fair to say that all seminaries related to mainline denominations are ecumenical; this includes UM related schools of theology and divinity schools. The advantage of theological education at a UM related school for UM women and men preparing for ordained ministry is, in my experience, immersion in UM worship and liturgy. The school uses the United Methdoist hymnal and Book of Worship in its community worship life. This helps prepare students in the use of our very rich sacramental liturgy, and hymnody. Students also have more opportunities to meet and form relationships with representatives from General Agencies and other UM related institutions.

    This is not to denigrate the quality of theological education at other non-UM schools. I started my seminary education at a non-UM school and was convinced of the benefits of finishing at a UM school (Wesley Theological Seminary). I am convinced that it was the right decision for me.

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