Statement of Intentions & Hopes submitted by Westminster College to the Synod of the Trinity (P.C.U.S.A.)
Signed: June 1991
Revised: May 2007
Westminster College, established in 1852 for the mental and moral training of men and women by the Shenango and Ohio Presbyteries of the Associate Presbyterian Church and sustained for over a century by what was the United Presbyterian Church of North America, identifies itself today as a college of liberal arts in the reformed and reforming tradition of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to which today it relates through The Synod of the Trinity.
On June 20, 1991, Westminster College and The Synod of the Trinity entered into a covenant agreement outlining their intentions and professions of hope with the prayer that God would use Westminster College and the Synod of the Trinity to strengthen each other and to make each a distinctive instrument of God’s purposes in demanding times.
Significant changes have occurred in our world, our society, our Church, our colleges and universities. These circumstances create a propitious and challenging opportunity for us to rethink our mission and our relationship to each other.
Students at Westminster are enrolled in a college sustained through the decades by what was the United Presbyterian Church of North America. This heritage has at its core those ideals exemplified by Jesus Christ. Today the College strives continually to understand and express the relationship between its religious heritage and the liberal arts ideals and values in ways relevant to a rapidly changing world. Westminster embraces the whole church with its many traditions and the human race in its diversity. The College is open to the moral and spiritual character of different religious traditions and resolves to continue its participation in both ecumenical and interfaith endeavors.
Westminster’s Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, and students develop their policies and practices on the principles, values and ideals of Christian faith. Every member of the Westminster College community is expected to honor the standards of compassion, justice, and a disciplined life in the pursuit of excellence.
Accordingly, we hereby declare to The Synod of the Trinity our intentions in terms of the heritage embraced and the challenges of the future identified.
Westminster College intends to:
- Value its Christian roots as the source of empowerment by which the College is able to embrace diverse people and pluralistic views;
- Strive continually to reformulate for these times the ways faith and learning are related, how they inform and critique each other in a manner that creates a distinctive world view and, in terms of this world view, to attempt to define with faithfulness and flexibility the mission of the College to the end that each generation of students will be educated regarding its rightful place of service to God and neighbor;
- Be a community of learners which encourages a critical awareness of the assumptions, methods, and values of this and other cultures in ways that alert students to the idolatries which dehumanize and diminish our spiritual capacity to transcend our environments;
- Encourage students to be rooted and grounded in religious faith in order to enable and empower them in a time of global consciousness, cultural diversity, and social pluralism to be open, accepting, and compassionate as enlightened citizens connected to and responsible for all God’s people and all of God’s creation;
- Promote a campus culture of high expectations because striving for excellence is mandated as a stewardship of life, as a living out of a life of gratitude, as a response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ;
- Promote a culture that will encourage students to acquire competencies and characteristics to develop commitments which have distinguished human beings at their best by learning to perform at the outer limits of their ability;
Promote programs, including those of the Synod and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), that encourage student participation in endeavors designed to heighten the sense of responsibility for advancing God’s kingdom of peace and justice for all peoples of the earth:
- eradicating world hunger
- stewardship of the environment
- religious, racial, economic and social diversity
- human equality
- ethical/moral integrity of each person;
Westminster College is aware that many hallmarks of church relatedness have all but disappeared from the relationship between colleges and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Certainly the financial support of the Synod and the influence of the Synod in the selection of trustees have changed significantly over the years. Yet we believe that among the historic and theological hallmarks of American Presbyterianism have been an emphasis on education and strong support of the educational institutions founded by it. While we cannot turn back time, Westminster professes its hope that The Synod of the Trinity and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will reclaim a legacy which helped to give the Church a special vitality and a distinctive role in our society.
Westminster’s intentions about her own life are paralleled by hopes regarding The Synod of the Trinity. Westminster hopes that The Synod of the Trinity will:
- Help the churches, the presbyteries, and the General Assembly recover a commitment to higher education so that higher education will be a stated mission priority of all the various governing bodies and structures of the church, as well as a stewardship responsibility of all Presbyterians;
- Advocate in presbyteries and their churches the value of church-related higher education so that parents will encourage their children to consider attending the colleges of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.);
- Seize the opportunity for development of future church leaders, which is available on college and university campuses of our country;
- Interpret the extent of the Church’s involvement in higher education, largely through gifts of Christian individuals and the number of individual Presbyterians who serve on college campuses, so that constituents are more aware of the dramatic impact they have in this area of stewardship;
- Develop focused and intentional positions of support for the colleges and universities of the Church, for campus ministries, and for global education; and
- Look to the resources of Westminster’s faculty, staff, programs and facilities to help the Synod and its presbyteries fulfill their mission.
Westminster College declares to The Synod of the Trinity the intent to develop programmatic initiatives to strengthen and reinforce the future of this covenant relationship. Westminster College:
- Charges the College Chaplain / Director of Church Relations with the responsibility of coordinating all church-related programs between the College, Presbyterian churches of the region, and/or various governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He/she will network with clergy and provide worship assistance and services, when appropriate, as well as provide educational, programmatic, and economic opportunities throughout all presbyteries in The Synod of the Trinity. A representative of the Office of the Chapel and Church Relations will attend Presbytery meetings serving as a resource to the committees relating to Higher Education ministries and report periodically to The Synod of the Trinity;
- Will work to build relationships between church leaders and Westminster College and develop a communications program to keep the governing bodies of the denomination apprised of developments and long-range plans and opportunities for the College and church-related organizations;
- Will develop and present seminars and workshops to assist pastors, lay leaders, and individual congregations in utilizing College resources and expertise;
- Will promote and offer resources to assist churches with leadership training, funding, youth programs, music programs, and social issues.
Mutual Understanding and Accountability
Both parties agree to provide regular and formal channels of communication.
- The College will provide the Synod with appropriate information and documents (e.g. Presidential Reports, admission publications, promotional material, etc.);
- The Synod will provide the College with appropriate information and documents (e.g. minutes of the Synod’s Higher Education Task Group, notification of Synod meetings and visits to the College, etc.);
- The Synod and the College shall each appoint a staff person to see that the terminology of this Covenant is reviewed and kept current during each five-year period;
- The text of this Covenant shall be printed in the official records of both The Synod of the Trinity and the Board of Trustees of Westminster College, and shall be summarized in the College catalog and made available to members of the student body, administration, faculty, staff and to other constituencies as deemed appropriate.
It is the intent of The Synod of the Trinity and Westminster College that this Covenant represent a relationship that is at once historic and current, alive and continuous.
- This Covenant shall be reviewed every five years by a team composed of persons appointed by the Student Ministries Coordinating Team and persons appointed by Westminster College’s Board of Trustees;
- The Covenant may be amended at any time by mutual consent of The Synod of the Trinity and the Board of Trustees of Westminster College;
- Special review of the Covenant relationship can be initiated either by the College or the Synod. Review by appropriate committees of Westminster College and of the Synod’s Student Ministries Coordinating Team may be needed if unilateral actions of either organization change the nature of the covenant.