The purpose of this document is to reaffirm and clarify how we understand ourselves as a liberal arts college affiliated with The United Methodist Church. Such clarification is needed to articulate for current students, faculty, and staff—and for prospective students, new hires, alumni, and trustees what we mean and do not mean when we say we are church-related.

By saying ‘We affirm our support for..’, the institution is clarifying how the work of the chaplain and our church-relatedness connects with the mission of the College. Items listed within this General Statement are consistent with both the College’s mission statement and—as noted in the UMC Education Covenant of Partnership statement linked to this document, with the expectations and esteem The United Methodist Church has for higher education and affiliated colleges like Cornell in preparing lives for global citizenship and servant leadership in a diverse, interdependent world.

In addition to an introduction by the chaplain, the document includes a clarifying statement from the College’s Articles of Incorporation, and links to documents such as Richard Thomas’ essay on the history and meaning of the Cornell-United Methodist Church relationship. This document will be hosted by the Office of Chaplain and Spiritual Life, and links to it will occur wherever phrases like ‘church-related’ and ‘United Methodist’ appear in admissions and other materials.

Cornell’s Perspectives on Religious Heritage & Spiritual Life document

Cornell College values both its historical relationship with the United Methodist Church (see links below) and religious diversity. It offers religion as an academic discipline and, through the Office of Chaplain and Spiritual Life, provides voluntary opportunities for spiritual nurture, exploration, and practice. Our faculty, staff, and students represent numerous religious traditions, diverse traditions within Christianity, non-traditional spirituality, and secular perspectives. As a United Methodist affiliated college, Cornell values this diversity as part of the educational experience and strives to build authentic caring community, mutual appreciation, and respect as we live together amid our religious, cultural, political and other differences. Such pluralism is prized as an important, positive dimension of a Cornell education in helping prepare lives for global citizenship, service, and leadership in a diverse, interdependent world. Students seeking a spiritual component to their Cornell experience may turn to the Office of Chaplain and Spiritual Life, and to the many independently run student organizations, in order to make the appropriate connections.

General Statement Concerning Spiritual Life at Cornell College

Cornell College affirms the value of the intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual well being of our students, faculty and staff. Here is what we mean by this, in the context of the work of the chaplain and of our church relatedness.

We affirm our support for:

  • Academic freedom.
  • Spiritual care and compassionate support for all members of the Cornell College community who seek it.
  • Voluntary opportunities for spiritual inquiry, growth, and practice.
  • Maintaining a caring, safe, and non-coercive environment which acknowledges the worth of all persons.
  • The use of reason for theological and ethical reflection, spiritual growth and care, scriptural analysis, and interfaith conversations.
  • Opportunities for encounter and dialogue between people of differing faith traditions, non-traditional spirituality, and no faith.
  • Responsibly and respectfully talking through, and living with, our most significant religious, political, cultural, and other differences.
  • The pursuit of service, justice, and reconciliation.


Statement on Affiliation from the Articles of Incorporation of Cornell College

While Cornell College has been, and shall continue to be, known as one of the colleges related to the United Methodist Church, all departments shall be open alike for those of any religion or race; and no denominational or sectarian test shall be imposed in the choice of trustees, officers or teachers, or in the admission of students, nor shall distinctively denominational tenets or doctrines be taught to the students. The Articles of Incorporation delegate to the Board of Trustees decisions on the composition of the Board. Recognizing the College's relationship with the UMC, the Bylaws of the College reserve six seats on the Board for representatives of the United Methodist Church. These United Methodist representatives are selected by the College.