December 6, 2019
Dear SMU community,
I would like to provide an update on my February letter regarding our relationship with the United Methodist Church (UMC). In response to the ongoing debate over the future organizational structure of the Church, I met with members of the Church leadership to seek support for the SMU Board of Trustees’ plan to update the University’s articles of incorporation and bylaws. We met and communicated several times thereafter on this topic.
On November 6, the SMU Board of Trustees voted to update its governance documents to make it clear that SMU is solely maintained and controlled by its Board as the ultimate authority for the University. And today, the board voted to amend its bylaws to be consistent with the changes made in November.
In response, the UMC’s South Central Jurisdictional Conference (SCJC) filed a petition against SMU. The SCJC claims jurisdiction over the University, asserting that the university cannot make these changes without the approval of the conference.
We are confident that our Board’s actions are in compliance with Texas law.
With Methodist in our name, the Perkins School of Theology as a resource, and assurance of Methodist representation on the Board of Trustees, the Church will continue to have important influence in the governance of SMU. Nothing changes in SMU’s day-to-day operations because of these actions.
I will continue to keep you updated as other changes arise.
R. Gerald Turner