February 26, 2019
A Message from President Wolfe to the Iliff Community Dear Members of the Iliff Community:
I am writing to you from St. Louis, Missouri where the Special Session of General Conference has just adjourned. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are with you.
Today, a majority of delegates of the General Conference voted to accept the Traditionalist Plan as the way forward for the United Methodist Church. Of all of the plans presented, this is the most exclusive and prohibitive toward the LGBTQ community. As the denomination goes forward, there will be strict enforcement of the prohibitions against same sex marriages performed by United Methodist clergy and the ordination of those who identify as LGBTQ.
As your president, I want our community to be clear on this matter. The statement of our Board of Trustees, unanimously approved at their January meeting, informed by our community, and posted in advance of the upcoming General Conference session, remains the position of Iliff. “Iliff expresses its deep concern and sorrow that all of the proposed courses of action…allow this unconscionable discrimination to remain within our beloved denomination.” In an earlier time of wisdom, the Church gave the gift of academic freedom to its higher education institutions along with the expectation that these schools be diverse and inclusive communities. Regardless of today’s decision, Iliff will continue to work toward living fully into these values.
To our beloved students who identify within the LGBTQ community, Iliff stands with you. Yes, the Church has spoken. But within the Church are many allies who grieve with you and are angry at this setback. While the questions about your future in the Church are set into uncertainty, know that your call from God to serve is of a higher authenticity. Iliff will stand with you as we together sort out how today’s decision impacts your lives. The Church can make this decision, but that action does not come close to comparing to the force of justice that still is at work in the world. As William Sloane Coffin said, “The integrity of love is stronger than the purity of dogma (para).”
Throughout the time leading up to this GC session, I participated in many gatherings of our 119 school, college, university, and seminary leaders who share the concerns that today have now come to pass. There is a common resolve to resist this exclusionary position that runs counter to the very fabric of these UM-related schools. I am currently working with a team of institutional leaders who are planning a meeting for later in March. I will keep you apprised of our work. At the same time, we will be looking at the implications this decision presents for Iliff.
Throughout this session of GC, I was reassured and inspired by the witness of those in attendance who have roots with Iliff. To everyone who attended the session in person or by live stream and to those who daily offered support for our students, thank you. I invite us to remember that before today’s final vote, Iliff was Iliff. After today’s vote, Iliff is still Iliff. Our work continues.
With gratitude for our shared life, I am yours.
Thomas V. Wolfe, Ph.D. President & CEO