Skip Navigation

Rigor, freedom, openness hallmarks of United Methodist higher education


The Rev. Kim Cape
The Rev. Kim Cape

Guest commentary

This is the first time an issue of Interpreter magazine has been dedicated to a single topic. We at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry are honored and delighted that the editorial staff selected United Methodist-related higher education to be the focus of this historic edition.

On behalf of our institutions, I say thank you to the editorial staff for recognizing higher education as a crucial ministry of our great connection. We are also grateful to the magazine's contributors for their splendid work in putting together such a powerful and attractive collection of articles that tell the story of our church-related educational mission.

Education is in our United Methodist DNA. That dates back to our very earliest days. John Wesley was proud that he was a "sometime fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford." He took education very seriously as the key to a fuller, richer life.

When Wesley founded Kingswood School, he wanted to give young people a chance they might not have had otherwise—an opportunity to have a high quality education so that they could aspire to Cambridge or Oxford and to the professions. He knew that, in higher education, we form leaders for church and society who will act ethically and responsibly.

As the Methodist movement took hold and spread in the United States, Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke demonstrated the same attitude in founding Cokesbury College, the first of many to be started by the denomination.

Today our Division of Higher Education proudly provides the structure that supports our network of 119 outstanding United Methodist-related schools, colleges and universities in theUnited States and relates to more than 800 institutions in the Methodist tradition globally. In addition, our Division of Ordained Ministry works with the 13 United Methodist schools of theology in the U.S. and with United Methodist theological education around the world.

Our institutions live out the very essence of what makes United Methodist-related higher education distinctive. They offer not a mediocre education, but one with academic rigor, academic freedom and openness to different points of view; one with concern for social justice—an education that represents and inculcates values, the theological and classical virtues; an education that promotes civility in discourse, one that fosters oneness out of diversity and community out of alienation; an education that is not fettered by the constraints of sectarianism, but rather one that is intellectually liberating.

Our institutions provide this kind of context and support for the formation of leaders in an ecclesiastically and theologically sensitive way throughout the academic year.

We are profoundly grateful for our United Methodist-related educational institutions and for the way they exercise their noble vocation. I hope that this issue of Interpreter magazine will communicate that to you in a fresh, new way.

The Rev. Kim Cape, General Secretary

General Board of Higher Education and Ministry

The United Methodist Church