Claremont School of Theology Draws Support from UMC Leaders

Nashville, Tenn. — United Methodist leaders are expressing support for Claremont School of Theology in the wake of its separation from the Claremont Lincoln University.

In April, the Board of Trustees of Claremont School of Theology announced that the two institutions had decided to end their joint venture to offer interreligious graduate education. That endeavor began in 2011 “with a shared vision to offer interreligious graduate education,” but the Board of Trustees said that their fundamental philosophies have now diverged. Earlier this year, Claremont Lincoln decided to become a secular-focused university.

The Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, says the agency stands behind Claremont’s decision. “Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan and the leaders of Claremont School of Theology have taken great care over many months to examine the relationship between the two institutions, and we at GBHEM support their decision to end that partnership.”

Claremont School of Theology is one of 13 official theological schools of The United Methodist Church, and has close ties with other Protestant denominations as well. (Read more about its history)

Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, president of Claremont, says his long-term vision is for the school to be a global leader in theological education – strongly connected with The United Methodist Church, broadly ecumenical, and deeply committed to interreligious theological education.

“Each of those traits is equally important for training Christian leaders for the challenges and opportunities they will face in a world where religious diversity is an ever-increasing reality. That broad vision is not new … it began in 1956 when CST was established by The Methodist Church as an ecumenical seminary,” said Dr. Kuan.

“We take seriously our roots and identity as a United Methodist seminary and will continue to cultivate and nurture this relationship with our episcopal leaders, annual conferences, churches, and alumni/ae.”

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño of the Los Angeles Episcopal Area is President of the Claremont School of Theology Corporation. “We have learned a great deal from our CST/CLU venture, not least of which is that we must continue to be committed to ecumenism and interfaith dialogue and witness,” she said. “We at Claremont School of Theology are stronger in our mission as a United Methodist seminary because of the efforts that have been made.”

“In a time such as this when dynamic change is a natural outcome of growing and developing, Claremont Lincoln University is now in a position to freely move into its vision of becoming an institution devoted to ethical integrity, religious intelligence, and intercultural understanding,” said Bishop Robert Hoshibata of the Phoenix Episcopal Area. “Likewise, Claremont School of Theology will continue to focus on its future. We anticipate that the School of Theology will build on its strong legacy focusing on inspiring, training, empowering and equipping excellent leadership for ministry in United Methodist churches and other faith communities in the spirit of ecumenical and interfaith cooperation.”

The University Senate is an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the United Methodist General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for affiliation with the denomination.

“We will be working with the institution as it continues to live into its mission of preparing people for ministry in the spirit of the Wesleyan tradition,” said Dr. Tom Wolfe, president of the University Senate.

Dr. Kuan says that key areas for focus in the short-term are addressing institutional infrastructure and financial challenges, tending to institutional relationships, growing interreligious relationships with area graduate theological schools, enhancing their recruitment efforts, and re-energizing their alumni as ambassadors.

This story provided by the Press Office of United Methodist Communications

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