While Virginia Wesleyan is a Methodist-affiliated university, the school aims to provide an environment that is accepting of all people by embracing the diversity of our campus community.
Early last year, some issues arose within the Methodist Church as LGBT-related prohibitions were established. According to the New York Times, some of the actions taken include strengthening the ban on gay and lesbian clergy.
Because of this controversial decision, a proposal has been made to seperate the church. Inside Higher Ed writer Elizabeth Redden discussed the recent proposed split to allow for a separate “traditional Methodist” denomination to exist while excluding the LGBT community.
A conference in May will be held in order to decide if the split will occur, and many people are talking about it and how it will affect different parishes, organizations and institutions.
Until then, many Methodist higher education institutions, including Virginia Wesleyan, are debating as to whether or not they should remain affiliated with the Methodist Church.
Other schools across the country which have similar backgrounds with the Methodist Church comprise the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church. Many of the members of this organization were faced with a dilemma when the Methodist Church began to crack down on the LGBT community, including President Miller.
Miller was faced with a decision of remaining affiliated with the Methodist Church and associating the university with the decisions that church had made against the LGBT community, or going against the Methodist Church’s decision in order to continue to have an accepting environment for the university that welcomes in everyone, no matter the race, gender or sexuality.
After some thinking and discussion, Miller released a statement against the actions of the Church while remaining affiliated. This decision helped to send a message to both the campus community and the Methodist Church.
Through this statement, Miller was able to reassure the campus community that Virginia Wesleyan is still a community of acceptance without sacrificing the many benefits that the university has by being apart of the NASCUMC.
In his Nota Bene messages, Miller has stated consistently that “we (Virginia Wesleyan University) are committed to a fully inclusive environment.”
The LGBT community on campus have been mostly pleased with the decision that has been made by the university. India Khanna, President of Spectrum, the LGBT community on campus, was surprised by the progressive route that the President has taken.
Khanna stated that Spectrum is working hand in hand with the university to create an accepting campus community.
“The President’s decision gave me some hope … I think that there has been progress in creating a more inclusive environment,” Khanna said.
The decision on the split will be announced in May. With this looming ahead, Miller states that “Nobody can predict for sure what will happen but it appears…that all the stakeholders are all happy with the direction that things are going…I am cautiously optimistic.”