by Greg Jones, Dean of Duke Divinity School
Dear Members of the Board of Visitors and National Alumni Council,
Duke Divinity School is a seminary of the United Methodist Church (UMC), and on Tuesday, February 26, the UMC passed legislation that affirms the church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage.
The heaviness of the deliberations and decisions of the recently concluded General Conference in St. Louis are being felt throughout the worldwide United Methodist connection. There are many sighs too deep for words, as uncertainties abound on the implications of the passage of the “Traditional Plan (as amended).”
Duke Divinity School—our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—shares in this sense of a poignant and difficult time. I know I speak for many in grieving the deep wounds to the United Methodist Church as a result of our significant theological and ethical divisions.
As one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries, Duke Divinity School receives significant financial support from and is accountable to the denomination in the preparation of United Methodist women and men for ministry. As an ecumenical and educational institution integral to Duke University, we are also committed to diversity and inclusion for faculty, staff, and students. Duke Divinity School embraces people from across the Christian traditions. We have sought, and will continue to seek, to create a community where people committed to Christian ministry can disagree about matters of sexuality (as well as many other matters) and also discover common ground and skills for navigating disagreement.
When the Episcopal Church USA experienced turmoil and division over the past two decades, Duke Divinity School welcomed and continues to welcome students and faculty across the spectrum of those divisions. We will do similarly in our outreach to people with diverse perspectives in the United Methodist and Wesleyan traditions. Put simply, we will work to ensure that all are welcome to pursue study and preparation for Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School.
During these days, we pray for wisdom and charity as people across the United Methodist connection discern what is the best path forward for each person and for the United Methodist Church around the world.