WASHINGTON — Nearly 100 presidents of universities affiliated with the United Methodist Church are urging it to be more inclusive of gay and transgender people, issuing a joint statement in the weeks before church leaders plan to meet to discuss LGBTQ issues.
The global United Methodist Church has been debating gay equality for years, with widely differing perspectives in the many countries with Methodist congregations. Church leaders are to meet in February to discuss policy toward members of the LGBTQ community.
For US colleges affiliated with the Methodist Church, the issue is clear. ‘‘The presidents of the Methodist institutions have felt strongly that we are inclusive communities,’’ said Scott Miller, president of Virginia Wesleyan University.
‘‘This is a pivotal moment in the Methodist Church and a pivotal moment in Methodist higher education,’’ said Miller, a lifelong Methodist who has been a college president for nearly three decades. He said he began advocating for a more inclusive church in the mid-1990s, but the church kept putting off making changes.
The National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church represents 93 schools, including such well-known institutions as Duke University and Southern Methodist University, and educates more than 260,000 students.