God has called you to serve as a leader in the church of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are sensing a call to pastoral leadership, the chaplaincy, a specialized ministry or as a lay professional. Whatever your calling, the choice of a seminary is one of the most important decisions you will make on this incredible faith journey. In seminary you will not only learn, but you will be shaped as a spiritual leader. Our 13 United Methodist seminaries in the United States have educated outstanding preachers and teachers, evangelists and missionaries, chaplains and lay leaders who have led the church and changed the world in the name of Jesus Christ. There are many good reasons why you should choose a United Methodist seminary. Here are a few:
Study with United Methodist scholars
Online and Distance Learning for M.Div. in The United Methodist Church
Some theological schools are now offering a Master of Divinity that can be taken entirely online. However, candidates for ordination in The United Methodist Church cannot take all of their seminary classes online.
University Senate guidelines state that credit for online education for UM students will only be granted for classes taken at one of the 13 UM theological schools or at Asbury Theological Seminary. All United Methodist seminaries and Asbury Theological Seminary are allowed to offer up to two-thirds of the Master of Divinity degree as distance education (as defined by 2012 Association of Theological Schools Standard ES.4), with one-third of the degree required to be campus-based (as defined by 2012 Association of Theological Schools Standard ES.2).
Candidates should also check with their annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Annual conference boards determine the number of hours candidates in that conference are allowed to take online.
Students may complete no more than 50 percent of their M.Div. program at an extension center. All extension center courses shall be clearly noted on the student's transcript.
The same admissions requirements and procedures operating on the main campus, or alternatives demonstrably commensurate, shall be utilized.
At these schools you will study with leading United Methodist biblical scholars, theologians, and professors who are shaping United Methodist theology today. Creative teachers will keep you on the cutting edge of United Methodist theology and church life. In these classrooms you will get to know the writers whose books are read on other campuses, and you will study with persons who are shaping the future of our church. They will not only teach you what they know; they will share who they are as people of faith.
Connect with the United Methodist connection
Our seminaries are vital parts of the United Methodist connection. On these campuses you will have frequent opportunities to meet bishops, superintendents, pastors, and denominational executives. Our connection is lived out in programs like the Hispanic Center at Perkins and the Anna Howard Shaw Center at Boston. Retired bishops in residence and church agency staff will help you understand what is happening in The United Methodist Church today. The seminaries’ close cooperation with annual conference Boards of Ordained Ministry will assist you as a candidate for ordination and frequent visits from conference leaders will keep you connected to your home conference.
Gain a global vision
In faithfulness to John Wesley’s conviction that “the world is [our] parish,” our United Methodist seminaries are committed to the global dimensions of the gospel. The presence of international students and linkages with seminaries in other nations will expand your vision of the church in the world. For example, Wesley, located in Washington, D.C., connects ministry with the world through the resources of the nation’s capital. Typical of all 13 schools, Claremont and Drew serve an ever more diverse population, including Korean, African-American, and Indo-Chinese students; and several of our schools have established relationships with United Methodist seminaries around the world. Visiting scholars, such as Bishop Peter Storey from South Africa, enrich the schools on a regular basis. The United Methodist seminaries are committed to ethnic diversity and ecumenical understanding with a broadly inclusive student body and faculty to equip you to serve today’s multicultural, global church.
Touch the tradition
Our United Methodist seminaries carry on the heritage and tradition of our denomination. Effective ministry is enhanced by living and learning in communities shaped by that tradition. United Theological Seminary carries on the rich history of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, and Gammon reflects the heritage of African-American Methodists. The official United Methodist archives are located at Drew. Leading United Methodist historians bring the tradition to life. These 13 schools take pride in their historic ties with the church and will ground you in the United Methodist tradition.
Practice what you preach
Since training spiritual leaders for The United Methodist Church is central to their mission, our seminaries provide a clear focus on the practice of ministry, as well as thoughtful theological reflection. United is offering contextual learning in extension programs, Iliff is working closely with the Rocky Mountain Conference in planning the curriculum for rural and urban ministries, and Gammon continues to train African-American leaders in the unique setting of the Interdenominational Theological Center. Active participation by faculty in local congregations keeps them in touch with the practice of ministry. Theological study at a United Methodist seminary is always related to the practice of ministry and its context today.
Learn in the libraries
Our United Methodist seminaries have dedicated themselves to maintaining outstanding library collections to undergird quality education. Recently, Iliff completed the Bacon Education Center which houses its library and computer lab. Methodist Theological School in Ohio electronically linked its library with Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Pontifical College Josephinum to provide a broadly representative library collection. The Bridwell Library at Perkins and Pitts Theology Library at Candler are recognized as two of the best in the nation, and the Duke collection in Wesley studies and Methodist literature is world-renowned. Particularly for United Methodist students, our libraries offer resources not available at schools of other denominations. They are the centerpiece of quality facilities—like the refurbished campus at Saint Paul—creating settings conducive to learning.
Work in the context of worship
Theological education in preparation for ministry is always more than classwork. It involves the formation of the whole person as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Therefore, academic study must be set in the context of worship and spiritual formation which grow out of our rich Wesleyan heritage. The recently refurbished chapels at Garrett-Evangelical, Claremont, and Perkins symbolize the centrality of worship in community. Opportunities for worship, Bible study, and frequent celebration of the Eucharist encourage spiritual growth.
Exercise your intellect
United Methodist seminaries seek to fulfill John Wesley’s vision to “unite the two so long disjoined—knowledge and vital piety.” Your intellect will be challenged, and your mind will be stretched to become, in words of John Cobb, a “thinking Christian.” Our faculties are committed to rigorous study and lively debate in an environment that is both academically challenging and spiritually enriching.
Now...take the next step
God has called you to serve. You have taken the first steps in response. As you prayerfully consider your preparation and training, consider our 13 UM theological schools. If you plan to serve in The United Methodist Church, there is no better place to prepare for your ministry.