Protestant Church-Related Universities

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Fri, 01/01/1988
End Date: 
Sat, 06/30/1990

For several decades observers have claimed that church-related colleges are growing increasingly distant from the churches that founded them. Merrimon Cuninggim’s project explored this perception by reviewing the history of church-related higher education and assessing current church-college relations. In his book, Uneasy Partners, Merrimon Cuninggim outlined three historical periods for church-related colleges. Cuninggim begins his analysis at the opening of the twentieth century when founding denominations tended to be the senior partner responsible for directing its affiliated collegiate institution. As the century progressed, the balance of power gradually shifted so that churches and colleges shared decision-making. But since the end of the 1960s, churches' role in shaping the direction of the colleges that they founded has diminished.
After reviewing current literature on college-church relationships, Cuninggim then offers an alternative model for future cooperation. It stress four values that Cuninggim contends lie at the core of Chrisitanity and are essential to higher education. Those values are truth, freedom, justice, and kinship. Cuninggim suggests that it is time for church-related institutions to reassess their connections to their churches so that they can strengthen the bonds between them. By the same token, churches need to reassert themselves into the affairs of the colleges. (KH)