Baldwin Wallace University Considers Break With Methodist Church

Strosacker Hall, the student union, on the Baldwin Wallace University campus in Berea, Ohio.
Strosacker Hall, the student union, on the Baldwin Wallace University campus in Berea, Ohio. [Irene Moeller / ReeltimeCreations]
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Baldwin Wallace University is reconsidering its long-standing affiliation with the United Methodist Church, following the church's vote in February reaffirming its ban on same sex marriages and LGBT clergy. The ban puts the church at odds with BW's commitment to supporting its lesbian, gay and transgender faculty, staff and students.  

The BW Board of Trustees will take up the issue of disaffiliation at its meeting on April 26. 

BW president Robert Helmer told BW's student newspaper that four other Methodist-affiliated colleges in Ohio — Otterbein, Ohio Northern, Ohio Wesleyan and Mount Union — are making a similar evaluation.

Helmer said BW was founded by a Methodist and the Methodist Church. Although the university no longer receives significant financial funding from the church or requires students to attend chapel service, he said there is a sense of tradition and identity associated with the church.

After speaking with the student Senate and other groups at the school, Helmer said it's believed not much will change if they vote to break with the Methodist Church. The famous chapel will not be torn down.

If the trustees vote to keep the affiliation, which would be under protest of the conference vote according to Helmer, he believes they'll have to clearly explain why they voted to stay with the church amid potential charges of hypocrisy.

The United Methodist Judicial Council has not yet finalized its new plan as it grapples with questions of whether the rule breaks the church's constitution.

 

An earlier version of this story said the church voted in March to reaffirm its ban on same sex marriages and LGBT clergy. The vote was in February.

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