The United Methodist Church's monitoring agency for higher education has dropped Oral Roberts University School of Theology in Tulsa from its list of approved seminaries.
The monitoring group, headed by Roy B. Shilling Jr. of Georgetown, Tex., declined to give reasons for its action but said the nondenominational school's chief executive had been provided with reasons.
Regional ministry boards in the United Methodist Church consult the Senate's approved list of non-United Methodist seminaries in deciding whether candidates for ministry have met educational requirements for ordination.
According to United Methodist News Service, the agency's criteria in evaluating seminaries include "freedom of academic inquiry, opportunity for growth in the United Methodist tradition, compatibility with the denomination's Social Principles, racial and sexual inclusiveness of faculty and student body and academic quality."
At a recent meeting in Denver, the UMC agency also dropped 10 other non-United Methodist seminaries from its approved list: Central Baptist, Kansas City, Mo.; Bethel West Campus, San Diego; Fuller Extension Center, Phoenix; Luther Northwestern, St. Paul, Minn.; Meadville/Lombard, Chicago; North Park, Chicago; Reformed, Jackson, Miss.; Talbot, La Mirada, Calif.; University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., and Westminster, Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, a case dealing with Roberts' ministerial status in the United Methodist Church has been placed on the fall docket of the denomination's highest court. In an inquiry that does not mention Roberts by name, the church's Oklahoma Annual Conference has asked the church's Judicial Council to rule on the standing of a "local elder," a category of ministry that no longer exists in the denomination.
The Tulsa evangelist was received by the Oklahoma Conference as a "local elder" in 1968. He had previously been ordained in the Pentecostal Holiness Church. He has never had full standing as a United Methodist clergyman.