CTS Invests in Full-Time United Methodist Studies Faculty
CTS has a rich history of partnership with the United Methodist Church. For much of its history, the seminary has employed a part-time Director of United Methodist studies who oversees the education and preparation of students affiliated with the United Methodist Church. This Director also works with the Dean and Faculty of the seminary to develop programs, experiences, and resources to ensure United Methodist students receive the preparation for graduation and ordination their denomination requires.
This year, CTS has made exciting plans to expand the faculty and reaffirm our commitment to serving United Methodist (UM) students by seeking a Professor of United Methodist Studies who would also serve as the Director of UMC studies to join the faculty in summer 2024. The position will be full-time and is tenure-track, and applications and nominations are currently being accepted. In addition to teaching students as a faculty member in the School of Theology, the Director will provide theological support to UMC pastors in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Seminary students seeking to be ordained in the United Methodist Church must fulfill specific coursework in their MDiv degree program to fulfill denominational requirements in accordance with the Book of Discipline. They navigate requirements pertaining directly to their seminary degree coursework and church requirements for ordination. In the past, UM students at CTS have had the ability to take the classes that are denomination specific at Garrett Theological Seminary through an agreement between the two schools. This allowed UM students to take those denomination specific courses from a UM professor. The part-time Director of United Methodist studies at CTS has provided group and individual support to those students.
The United Methodist educational requirements for seminaries are set by the University Senate, a group within their General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. As of the end of the 2023-2024 academic year, seminaries not directly affiliated with the United Methodist Church will be required to employ a full-time faculty member who is United Methodist in order to accept and provide seminary education to United Methodist students.
Rev. Meredith McNabb, who currently serves as the part-time Director of United Methodist Studies at CTS in an interim capacity, is excited about CTS’ decision to expand the role to a full-time position. “This is an exciting year at CTS as we prepare for a full-time faculty person to serve as Professor and Director of UM Studies. Serving in this interim role in a very, very part time capacity alongside my work at Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at IUPUI and as the Associate District Superintendent for the Central District of the INUMC, I’m glad to offer my best—but I can see how having someone knit fully into the community and able to integrate academic work and UM connections will be transformative,” McNabb shares.
Rev. McNabb believes CTS is a great option for UM students considering seminary. “In my UMC roles, I’ve always dearly valued the partner seminaries like CTS: the UM students attending partner seminaries get to learn from and with people whose traditions can stretch and deepen their experiences beyond UM insider-talk. United Methodists are ecumenical by nature, and this kind of formation, these kinds of relationships make us all better in a time of such cultural division and so much distancing from organized religion. What better way to prepare for ministry in the era that’s emerging than to learn alongside a diverse cohort of classmates?” she asks.
As Professor of United Methodist Studies, the new professor will teach the required courses in UMC Polity, Theology, and History in accordance with University Senate regulations. They will also provide support to United Methodist pastors at the Annual Conference. That support could come in the form of a pastor-specific course, an ongoing theological conversation with pastors, or some other offering designed by the professor and the pastors.
As Director of United Methodist Studies, they will coordinate programs beyond the regular curriculum that will help build a strong United Methodist ethos on campus. Such programs might include recruitment events, worship and fellowship opportunities, visits to campus by United Methodist leaders, participation by students in regional and national UMC events, covenant groups, etc. They will monitor United Methodist resources available in the Seminary library and elsewhere on campus, identifying new resources and books essential to UMC students and faculty on campus. Finally, they will monitor student learning outcomes related to United Methodist theology, history, and polity, and respective district ordination requirements, to assure that United Methodist students at CTS are prepared for ordination exams and United Methodist ministry.
The person who fills this new role will meet with each CTS student who is part of the United Methodist denomination each semester, providing encouragement, support, and guidance. They will serve as an invaluable resource connecting those students to denominational information and resources.
When asked about the new role, CTS President Dr. David M. Mellott said, “Our values so closely align with the UMC, and we believe expanding our faculty to include a United Methodist professor is such an important step for the CTS community. We are invested in finding someone to fill this role to ensure CTS remains a top option for UM students seeking seminary degrees.”