While all the jurisdictional conferences are electing their bishops, some jurisdictions have more on the agenda. For a while there has been the debate over what some see as the controversial decision to allow George W. Bush to Southern Methodist University (SMU) to house his presidential library. SMU was founded by what is now The United Methodist Church and owned by the South Central Jurisdiction. Perkins School of Theology is part of SMU and is one of the 13 official UMC seminaries.
In one sense, this makes sense: Bush is a United Methodist and from Texas. The problem is that Bush is considered a warmonger by some (many?) and those in the UMC who do not support his policies do not want a library on an UMC university celebrating his achievements with little to offer as an alternative to his view of what happened.
Kevin Watson of deeply committed has linked to UM Nexus, which giving updates on the status of the debates currently going on in the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. It appears that the library (also called the ‘policy institute’) will come to SMU, so the fight is turning to the relationship between SMU and the policy institute. The petition currently before the conference reads:
The South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church understands that the institute does not speak for the South Central Jurisdiction of the UMC or Southern Methodist University. The South Central Jurisdictional Conference is dedicated to academic freedom and instructs Southern Methodist University to report back to the 2012 South Central Jurisdictional Conference on the relationship with the Institute and its impact on Southern Methodist University nand the level of compliance of the Foundation and the Institute with the covenants of agreements protecting the integrity of Southern Methodist University and the South Central Jurisdiction.
A second petition (or a substitute for the above):
We hereby petition the South Central Jurisdiction to prevent leasing, selling or otherwise participating in or supporting a George W. Bush policy institute on the property of Southern Methodist University.