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Kay Spiritual Life Center

American University's United Methodist Affiliation

In the spring of 2015, the University Senate of the United Methodist Church voted to reaffirm American University as a United Methodist-affiliated university. This renewal continues a tradition that dates back to the university's founding by Methodist bishop John Fletcher Hurst in 1893, who dreamed of seeing a national Methodist university in our nation’s capital. 

The relationship has greatly benefited the university throughout the years, most notably in the major role Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam played in the founding of the School of International Service in 1958. It was Bishop Oxnam who also brought Wesley Theological Seminary to Washington adjacent to the university campus.

Today, many are surprised to hear that American University is still affiliated with the Church. However, while the connection might not be as outwardly visible as it used to be—mandatory monthly chapel attendance ended in the mid-1950s for example—the Methodist heritage of the university can be found deep within the university’s strong and lasting commitment to openness, compassion, social justice, and public service. 

To learn more about AU’s United Methodist Affiliation, read this page written by our own Rev. Mark Schaefer, or visit the University Archives located on the third floor of the Bender Library.