Thursday, June 26, 2008

Southern (Methodist) University: Where's the Accountability?

If Chick-a-Fillet wants the foul poles at Minute Maid ballpark to be named, they simply have to pay for it and then honor the contract. Is anyone deeply concerned about the Methodist name and the institution of SMU being attached to the proposed "think tank" Institute that will, independent of any church teaching, lift up the politics and policies we have endured for the last 8 years in this nation of ours?

Of course Bishops and University officials are not immune to big money and power, and I don't blame them for presenting this issue as one that concerns only the SMU Trustees and the South Central Jurisdiction's Executive Council. And perhaps Dean of Perkins, William Lawrence, has made a good point, that having the institute on the SMU campus does not equate agreement with its politics, but rather, invites debate, learning, and discussion. Keeping your opponents closer to you than your friends is an interesting rationale.

However, questions should be asked at the upcoming Jurisdictional Conference (July 15-July 19 in Dallas). Why? Because there doesn't seem to be any accountability (to the Jurisdiction, the UMC or University) built into the entity being created. Power usually does not want questions asked, but by simply asking questions, South Central delegates can be faithful to a church that has always lifted up the importance of equal representation, transparency, and accountability. Those should be the norm not the exception in the way we do church. And Jurisdictional officials should allow those questions to be asked, freely and openly.

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