I was pleased, though saddened, to see the report of the failure of my alma mater, The Divinity School of Duke University, to address adequately the continuing discrimination within The United Methodist Church regarding people who are LGBTQ+. This discrimination, which I will call institutional bigotry, prevents people who are LGBTQ+ from being ordained in ministry in The UMC, further preventing clergy from conducting a same-sex marriage and holding same-sex marriages in UM church facilities. At this point, United Methodist Church law is discriminatory, biblically unfounded, theologically bankrupt, and separated from the ways of God.
For my friend Dean Greg Jones to issue his February statement without a clear call from The Divinity School of Duke University to The UMC to end this discrimination is most unfortunate. To say that gay students are welcome and are to be supported without calling for a clear path for them to be ordained as they are called by God to serve as pastors is to say “We will take your money and offer education but we will not give voice to opening the path for you to use the education for which you paid.” Would it not be more honest to say, “Don’t enroll here; the door is not open for you to pursue your calling.” The stance of The Divinity School appears to be at odds with the principles and values of the larger institution of Duke University.
Further, there is the appearance in the Dean’s statement that general United Methodist financial support takes precedence over righteousness.
Dean Jones: I expect much more from you and from The Divinity School than this. Please amend your statement by calling for an end to our United Methodist institutional discrimination as contained in United Methodist Church law.
John W. (Jack) Lipphardt earned his M.Div. from Duke in 1973 and his Th.M. in 1975.