United Methodist Connection

Eastern Mennonite Seminary shares a special relationship with the United Methodist Church (UMC) in theological education, having been approved by the church’s University Senate for the training of candidates for ordination. A significant number of United Methodist students are enrolled at EMS and will seek to be ordained.

The United Methodist church maintains close contact with its students at EMS through classes in United Methodist studies and by frequent on-campus visits from United Methodist representatives such as the Harrisonburg District Superintendent, the Director of Ministerial Services of the Virginia Conference, the Bishop of the Virginia Conference, and a variety of personnel from other conferences.

To strengthen these relationships, as of the 2012-13 school year, EMS made two major moves. First, EMS hired Dr. David Evans to serve as Associate Professor of History, Mission, Intercultural, and Interfaith Studies. Although his focus is broader than United Methodist resources, Dr. Evans, a graduate of and lecturer at Drew Theological Seminary, is himself a Methodist who teaches some Methodist courses and is cognizant of Methodist perspectives in any of his faculty activities.

Second, EMS has established a partnership with Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, through which a significant number of United Methodist courses are provided to EMS students, sometimes on the Wesley campus and often on the EMS campus or online. Wesley also provides a part-time United Methodist advisor, currently Dr. Steve Rettenmayer. The United Methodist advisor and EMS deans provide liaison to Wesley, the Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the Office of Ministerial Services as follows:

A. Educational and training needs of the board of ordained ministry

  • Oversight or provision of courses related to United Methodist history, doctrine, polity evangelism, mission and worship;
  • Support for persons preparing for ordination in the UMC;
  • Training and continuing theological education for the orders of elder and deacon.

B. Relational ties with office of ministerial services of the Virginia Conference

  • Develop lines of communication and support for persons seeking ordination in the UMC
  • Provide linkage with Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for information and interpretation of the EMS program with UMC students.

Dr. Rettenmayer, Adjunct Professor of United Methodist Studies in addition to UM adviser, oversees or implements such activities as:

  • Teaching or arranging for provision of UMC classes required by the January 27, 2011 policy approved by the United Methodist Senate;
  • Relating to and mentoring UMC students;
  • Contributing to a thriving UM ethos at EMS including appreciation for the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church;
  • Consulting with EMS faculty and staff on issues relating to UMC students;
  • Consulting with other Wesley or EMS faculty who teach UM courses.

John Wesley Partners, a giving opportunity to support Methodist students at EMU, also undergirds EMS services on behalf of Methodist students.

Contact information for Dr. Steve Rettenmayer:
Cell phone: 540-221-0860
Email: