Methodist Theological School in Ohio has formed a Unitarian Universalist House of Studies, serving individuals pursuing ministry within the Unitarian Universalist Association.
The house of studies will take shape in a variety of ways over the coming three years, with programming beginning in early 2016, according to MTSO officials.
MTSO Dean Lisa Withrow noted that UU students have long been a valued part of the school’s community.
“In the 17 years I’ve been at MTSO, I’ve found that UU students have challenged their classmates to be clear about their own theologies,” Withrow said. “I welcome this kind of more intentional partnership with the UUA. It will enhance the education here in meaningful ways.”
Susan Ritchie, minister of the North Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lewis Center and an immediate past trustee and secretary on the national board of the Unitarian Universalist Association, will serve as director of the house of studies.
“Nobody doubts that this kind of collaboration and multi-faith effort is the future for all of us,” Ritchie said. “Progressive people inside of different faith traditions might have more in common with each other than various people within the same faith tradition.”
During the first half of 2016, MTSO is offering two classes with a UU focus, both taught by Ritchie.
A three-credit-hour Unitarian Universalist history is being offered during the spring semester, which runs Jan. 29-May 20. The hybrid course combines online learning with on-campus classroom learning over a three-day weekend April 22-24.
MTSO also will offer a 1.5-credit-hour Unitarian Universalist polity course during the UUA General Assembly in Columbus June 22-26. This class will meet on-site at the General Assembly.
In coming months and years, MTSO plans to enhance and expand the UU House of Studies both to serve degree-seeking MTSO students and to provide hybrid and intensive classes for UU students who are preparing in other seminaries, officials said.
“We also hope for the house to provide an umbrella for a lay ministry program and for providing intellectual resources to UU individuals working on various progressive concerns,” Ritchie said.
Additional courses drawing from the shared values of MTSO and the UUA may be developed, and existing MTSO courses covering areas such as anti-racism, transgender and “queer” identities, and activism may be enhanced to reflect a UU focus, they said.
More information on the Unitarian Universalist House of Studies and upcoming classes is available at www.mtso.edu/uu.