In 1985, the Divinity School initiated a program of United Methodist Studies, designed to provide opportunities for United Methodist students to learn more about the life and traditions of their denomination. Since its inception in 1998, the program has offered students opportunities for:
• General and advanced courses in Wesleyan Theology
• Required courses for United Methodist ordination: Theology, History, Polity, and Evangelism
• Fellowship and spiritual growth
• Nurture and support in discipleship through Covenant Discipleship Groups
• Study of developments in church life through visiting speakers
• Innovative worship services
• Wesleyan immersion trips to England and internships in England and elsewhere
• Annual retreat
United Methodist Student Association. The UMSA sponsors a number of opportunities for worship, fellowship, and growth throughout the academic year. Programming includes covenant discipleship groups (see below),and monthly luncheones, as well as special events. UMSA events are gatherings designed: 1) to discuss the Wesleyan heritage in relation to the students' preparation for ordained and lay ministry, 2) to discuss matters of spiritual formation, 3) to meet with regional and national leaders in the UMC (including yearly meetings with the Bishop, a couple of District Superintendents, the chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, and staff members of the UMC Boards), and 4) to work at deepening students' ecumenical awareness and involvement in the social and justice ministries of the church (these have included meetings on health care and prison ministries, evangelism and UM media, congregational involvement in the community, and college chaplaincy). These meetings provide United Methodist students in the divinity school an opportunity for learning, interaction, and dialogue with persons of various backgrounds in ministry.
United Methodist Boards and Agencies. Nashville is an important center for United Methodist boards and agencies, including the General Board of Discipleship, The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United Methodist Publishing House, and United Methodist Communications. Here experts from all across world Methodism converge for the leadership of the church. These persons, who have acquired knowledge and insight vital to effective Christian ministry, are called upon for leadership roles in the Vanderbilt program. There is an annual dinner for United Methodist divinity students and the General Boards in Nashville. This is a unique opportunity to foster a relationship between divinity students and the officers and staff persons of the United Methodist General Boards, which opens up opportunities for dialogue, mutual cooperation in efforts in ministry, and internships.
The Divinity School is also located only a block away from the beautiful campus of The Scarritt-Bennett Center, a United Methodist Center for lay and continuing clergy education which has offered opportunities for joint endeavors in worship, the arts, lay and diaconal education, and evangelism.