Written by Emily Mullins
Each seminary affiliated with the United Church of Christ has met a majority of the criteria to be deemed a sexually healthy and responsible seminary by The Religious Institute, a multi-faith organization dedicated to sexual health, education and justice. The UCC is the first Protestant denomination to achieve this milestone, which aims to prepare the next generation of clergy with the training they need to address sexuality issues in ministry.
"I'm proud of our UCC-related seminaries and seminarians who take these matters seriously, make the connections between religion and sexuality, work to be inclusive communities of justice and peace, and have put in place policies and practices that create safe space and combat stigma, discrimination, sexual abuse and violence," said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the UCC. "This accomplishment bodes well for the future of the church and for the ministries of health and wholeness to which we are called as persons created in the image of an ever-engaged God."
The UCC-affiliated seminaries that have met the criteria include: Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Mass.; Bangor Theological Seminary, Bangor, Maine; Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, Pa.; Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, Calif.; Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago; Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis; United Seminary of the Twin Cities, New Brighton, Minn.; Harvard University Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass.; Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, D.C.; Union Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.; Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Nashville, Tenn.; and Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.
Since 2009, the Religious Institute has nearly tripled the number of sexually healthy and responsible seminaries, with 30 diverse institutions now meeting at least two-thirds of the criteria. Each institution is evaluated on criteria for a sexually healthy and responsible seminary that measure sexuality content in the curriculum, institutional commitment to sexuality and gender equity, and advocacy and support for sexuality‐related issues. The criteria were developed by an advisory group of seminary deans, faculty and clergy with expertise in sexuality.
"We are proud of our long partnership with the United Church of Christ," said the Rev. Debra W. Haffner, president of The Religious Institute. "Through their leadership in sexuality education and the welcome and inclusion of LGBT persons, the UCC has a strong track record of advocacy for sexual justice. That all UCC-affiliated seminaries are meeting this high standard for sexual health and responsibility underscores their denominational commitment to build on this legacy for future religious leaders and congregants alike."