UMC Sues Southern Methodist University Over Decision to Sever Ties With Denomination

Southern Methodist University, a Dallas, Texas-based academic institution with historic ties to The United Methodist Church. | Courtesy SMU

A regional body of The United Methodist Church has filed a lawsuit against Southern Methodist University, accusing the university of unlawfully trying to sever ties with the denomination.

The South Central Jurisdictional Conference of the UMC filed the suit in district court on Dec. 4 in Dallas County, Texas, accusing SMU leadership of committing “unauthorized acts.”

Specifically, the SCJC argued that a vote held in November by SMU’s Board of Trustees was an attempt to cut ties between the regional body and the university, in violation of school documents showing the SCJC as the “electing, controlling, and parental body of SMU.”

“The November 2019 Articles purport to divest SCJC of all its rights guaranteed by the 1996 Articles and SMU’s other governing documents and to effectively terminate the long-standing and permanent relationship between SMU and SCIC,” read the lawsuit in part.

“… the Trustees of SMU had and have no authority to amend the Articles of Incorporation without the prior approval and authorization of SCJC. Because the Trustees’ acts were neither approved nor authorized by SCJC, the resulting November 2019 Articles are void from their inception.”

On Wednesday, SCJC spokesperson Kim Jenne forwarded The Christian Post a statement from the UMC regional body noting that it “regrets that a lawsuit was even necessary.”

“Recently, without SCJC’s authority or approval, SMU’s representatives enacted unauthorized amendments to SMU’s Articles of Incorporation, purporting to terminate all of SCJC’s rights and relationship with SMU,” read the statement.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski