Otterbein statement to UMC decision

Posted May 01, 2019

Otterbein University remains a college of opportunity, devoted to the values of diversity, equality and inclusiveness. The Board of Trustees avowed this commitment with a resolution to affirm Otterbein’s mission and values on Feb. 9, 2019, ahead of the UMC Conference vote, and again on April 27, 2019, when it approved a resolution of dissent to the Church’s exclusionary language regarding LGBTQIA+ persons (see below).

Otterbein believes in the UMC motto of “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” That’s why Otterbein will continue to welcome, affirm, nurture and regard as essential the LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff as part of its diverse and inclusive community.

“We are proud to have a campus community that welcomes all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends as they are, and ensures that all are valued and welcomed,” said Otterbein President John Comerford. “We stand with those in the United Methodist Church community who feel disappointed and frustrated about the choice to keep doors closed for LGBTQ+ individuals who want to worship, live and lead while being authentic and honest about who they are.”

“It is clear that issues of justice and welcome and support are a vital part of the values of our Otterbein community, so this is a challenging time for us, as an institution affiliated with the UMC,” said Otterbein Chaplain Rev. Judy Guion-Utsler.

The Office for Religious and Spiritual Life will continue to support all UMC and faith-based organizations and events on campus, as well as individuals in the Otterbein community who want to express and explore their personal beliefs and faith.

Since our founding in 1847, Otterbein University continues to believe that all voices from different walks of life must be represented, respected and valued, and we encourage the church to do the same.


WHEREAS, Otterbein Board of Trustees affirmed the Vision, Mission, and Values of the University on February 9, 2019, with emphasis on its commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity of all people;

WHEREAS, the United Methodist Special General Conference approved the Traditional Plan at the February 25, 2019 meeting which serves to strengthen exclusionary policies regarding LGBTQIA+ peoples;

WHEREAS, the fate of the entire plan is unknown pending the action of the Judicial Council, which will make a ruling on its constitutionality on April 26, 2019;

WHEREAS, a number of churches, conferences, jurisdictions, central conferences and other groups are dissenting and announcing they will continue to marry same-sex couples and recommend LGBTQIA+ people for ordained ministry within the United Methodist connection;

WHEREAS, the policies, values, and even composition of the United Methodist Church may continue to undergo significant changes in the near future;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Otterbein University Board of Trustees, on behalf of our diverse alumni, students, faculty and staff, hereby publicly declares our dissent of the current and considered exclusionary language regarding LGBTQIA+ persons and calls upon the Church to adopt proactively inclusive policies and procedures.

WE FURTHER RESOLVE that Otterbein University will continue to welcome, affirm, nurture and regard as essential the LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff as part of our diverse and inclusive community and may consider dissolution of our affiliation with the United Methodist Church if it continues to fail to adopt a similar set of values and policies.