Deadline Nears for Hybrid United Methodist Studies Course in Basics of Methodist History, Theology and Polity

Course enrollment deadline is December 1.

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DALLAS (SMU) - After starting her job as assistant director of welcoming at First United Methodist Church Richardson, Shandon Klein often faced this question: “What makes United Methodism different from other denominations?” Having grown up an Episcopalian, Klein didn’t know how to answer, so she signed up for the United Methodist Studies course at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. There she learned the answer – and much more.

“I learned about the doctrine and the way the United Methodist Church is set up in a government type of structure,” she said. “I just learned more about my faith in the midst of that.” Klein was so inspired that she later enrolled in Perkins as a graduate student.

Applications are now being accepted for the hybrid United Methodist Studies course, which runs January 3-5, 2019. The deadline for enrollment is December 1, but discounted early enrollment ends November 3. Click this link to apply.

The United Methodist Studies course offers a one-stop-shop introduction to Methodist history, theology, and polity in a hybrid format (half online and half in-class) that deepens students’ understanding of and appreciation for Methodism today. Enrolled students will be assigned work outside of the classroom, via books, articles and videos, before spending three days in a classroom setting on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

While required for students enrolled in a United Methodist Certification track, the course will also benefit employees in United Methodist local churches, teachers of United Methodist confirmation classes, and new or longtime members in United Methodist churches, according Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean for External Programs & Professor of Ministerial Studies at SMU Perkins School of Theology.

“The Wesley brothers had a very distinct theology,” she said. “This course really helps anyone to understand what Methodism is about, what the church stands for, and how our polity works.”

Teaching the course are three Perkins professors: Ted A. Campbell, Professor of Church History; Tamara Lewis, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity; and D. Max Whitfield, Bishop in Residence and Director of the Center for Religious Leadership.

“These are three world leaders in Methodism,” said Pope-Levison. “They’ve written books and become recognized scholars in their respective areas. Students have the chance to learn and interact in class, face-to-face, with these outstanding professors.”

“In many cases, when we describe Methodist teachings, such as the universal availability of God’s grace, students will say, ‘Wow I guess I really am a United Methodist,’” said Campbell. “They had those beliefs but didn’t realize they were part of the church’s formal teachings. When students discover that, they often affirm their commitment to the church even more strongly.”

About the Course

Students in the Methodist Studies course will:

Meet characters in the Methodist family, like John, Charles, and Susanna Wesley, Philip Otterbein, and Phoebe Palmer.

Investigate the basic tenets of Christianity through a Wesleyan lens.

Discover the ways and whys for the current structure of the United Methodist Church from the local church to General Conference.

For those taking the course for personal and/or professional enrichment, the cost is $500 through Nov. 3, 2018, and $600 after that date. For those pursuing a certification, the cost is $850.

About the Certifications

While open to anyone who wants to learn more, this course is required for those pursuing:

United Methodist Certification through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) in an area of specialized ministry.

Continuing Education Certificate (for laity, church personnel, teachers of United Methodist confirmation, new or longtime members of the United Methodist Church or any person wanting to learn the history of Methodism)

Both new and returning Certification students must complete the application to register. Only one application per year must be completed for access to all Certification courses offered, including UM Studies. Once an application is approved for Certification courses, students will be sent a link for course registration.


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.