With Memorial 387’s approval at General Conference, Wesley Seminary (WS) has been fully recognized as one of The Wesleyan Church (TWC)’s institutions of higher education. This inclusion is reflected in “The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church,” and adds both the board chair and president (Drs. Connie Erpelding and Colleen Derr, respectively) to the Wesleyan Education Council (WEC).
Wesley Seminary contributes broad collaboration to the ecosystem of Wesleyan higher education. As our denomination’s first and only seminary, WS receives alumni from each of the WE5 schools (Houghton College, Indiana Wesleyan University, Kingswood University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Southern Wesleyan University) in addition to students from various other undergraduate and denominational backgrounds.
“Wesley has graduated almost 500 Wesleyan pastors and lay leaders in the past 10 years and currently has nearly 200 Wesleyan leaders studying,” said Rev. Dr. Colleen Derr, president of Wesley Seminary. The depth of insight and breadth of Wesleyan leadership involved in their student body offers WS a unique advantage in the culture-shaping role of the Wesleyan Education Council and General Board.
The seminary’s commitment to faithful service toward clergy and lay ministers within the local church allows WS to be a trusted voice that accurately represents concerns for ministers in the future.
“Memorial 387 not only recognizes WS for its impact on the equipping of so many clergy and laity in The Wesleyan Church; it also gives them a voice in the Wesleyan Education Council and General Board which will help shape the nature of The Wesleyan Church and the future of our clergy,” reflected Rev. Russ Gunsalus, principal author of Memorial 387.
That voice is made all the more important for global representation. “Of the current 560 students at Wesley, 25% are Spanish speakers and 20% live outside of the U.S.,” said Dr. Derr. “Through our accessible and distributed approach that is global in focus and transformational in intent, Wesley is equipping ministry leaders who serve the church around the world in the church and the marketplace.”
As Wesleyan institutions of higher education seek to collaborate for formational, innovative methods of forming leaders for the marketplace and the local church, Memorial 387 will allow for greater benefit and shared learning.
“We continue to ask internally, ‘what does the church (not just The Wesleyan Church) need in order to transform society, and what kind of pastoral and lay leaders are needed to fulfill that purpose?’” said Rev. Dr. Abson Joseph, vice president of Academic Affairs at Wesley Seminary. “The answers to these questions guide how we design our curriculum. I envision a continued and strong partnership between Wesley Seminary, its students and alumni as we continue to shape pastoral and lay leaders who lead the church to faithfully engage and bring transformation to their communities.”
Rev. Ethan Linder is the pastor of discipleship at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and contributing editor at The Wesleyan Church’s division of Education and Clergy Development.