(RNS) — Southern Methodist University is being sued over a recent move to sever control of the school from the United Methodist Church.
The move is part of the latest fallout over the global denomination’s decision earlier this year to strengthen language in its rulebook barring LGBTQ members from marriage and ordination.
Afterward, SMU President R. Gerald Turner issued a statement saying the school appreciated its Methodist roots and clarifying its day-to-day operations were not under church control.
And more recently, trustees of the Texas university changed its articles of incorporation last month to “make it clear that SMU is solely maintained and controlled by its board of trustees as the ultimate authority for the university,” according to a written statement the university provided to Religion News Service.
That meant deleting a phrase saying the school was “forever owned, maintained and controlled by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church,” according to a report by the United Methodist News Service.
The jurisdiction responded earlier this week with a Dallas County civil lawsuit.
The suit describes the jurisdiction as “the founder, owner, controller and manager of SMU,” saying it founded SMU in 1911 with a gift of 133 acres of land that now make up its main campus in Dallas. It calls the change to the articles of incorporation “unauthorized” and in “violation of SCJC’s rights and interests in relationship between SMU and SCJC that has existed for more than a century,” because it claims the school’s governing documents give the jurisdiction the right to authorize and approve any amendment before it is made.
The Rev. Kim Jenne, director of…