Baldwin Wallace University's Strosacker Hall

The Board concluded that becoming an independent university would better serve BW's core values of diversity and inclusion.

BW Trustees vote to end formal affiliation with the United Methodist Church

April 26, 2019

Baldwin Wallace University's Strosacker Hall

The Baldwin Wallace University Board of Trustees unanimously voted today to end the school’s formal affiliation with the United Methodist Church (UMC).

The vote comes in response to a recent UMC special general conference decision to tighten church prohibitions on same-sex marriage and exclusion of LGBTQ people from clergy. BW sought input from faculty, staff, students and alumni before today’s vote.

“BW’s Methodist founders were committed to inclusion 174 years ago,” said Charles Rotuno, Chair of the BW Board of Trustees. “While we value the relationship that we have had with the United Methodist Church, we’ve concluded that becoming an independent university will allow the BW community to continue to fully embrace and embody the values of diversity and inclusion today and always.”

The historic Lindsey-Crossman Chapel will remain a cherished part of BW’s Berea campus and Rev. John Gordon, an ordained United Methodist minister, will continue in his role as BW chaplain. Likewise, the University will continue to support a diverse range of faith-based organizations on campus and will honor all awards for current and incoming fall 2019 students who receive United Methodist scholarship support.

“BW founder John Baldwin believed in removing any impediment to education for any person regardless of race, gender, creed or social standing,” said Rev. Gordon. “Baldwin invited all to come to his school to build good lives and that continues today.”

Prior to the UMC’s February conference, BW President Bob Helmer joined 93 other Methodist-affiliated university presidents in signing a joint statement. In it, the member presidents of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church strongly affirmed “access and inclusion of all students, faculty, and staff on our campuses regardless of their race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, gender, gender identity/expression, or sexual orientation” and called on church leaders to amend policies and practices that exclude LGBTQ persons.

The subsequent UMC conference vote led BW Trustees to step back and examine the way the University’s values are supported by affiliation.

“BW values and supports the faith lives of all students,” said President Helmer. “BW is not changing. We are a campus where all people are welcome, all are valued, all are given the same opportunities and all are supported.”