FAQs on SPU Board Decision

Updated: 3/21/23

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about the Seattle Pacific University Board of Trustees recent decision to retain SPU’s employee lifestyle expectations.

Related documents mentioned in this FAQ. 

SPU’s Statement of Faith
SPU’s Mission, Core Themes, Vision Statement

Employment policy

SPU’s Board of Trustees is the governing authority for the University, and they made the final decision to retain the University’s existing employee lifestyle expectation regarding sexual conduct. The Trustees did not create any new policy.

The board issued a statement on May 23, 2022, explaining their decision.

"After careful consideration of multiple and complex concerns, the Board of Trustees has reached the decision to retain Seattle Pacific University’s current employee lifestyle expectations regarding sexual conduct.

“We want the community of SPU to know that this was a thorough and prayerful deliberation,” says Board Chair Cedric Davis. “While this decision brings complex and heart-felt reactions, the Board made a decision that it believed was most in line with the University’s mission and Statement of Faith and chose to have SPU remain in communion with its founding denomination, the Free Methodist Church USA, as a core part of its historical identity as a Christian university.

The decision means SPU’s employee conduct expectations continue to reflect a traditional view on Biblical marriage and sexuality, as an expression of long-held church teaching and biblical interpretation.

While the board has landed on a decision that reflects a prayerful and sincere commitment to the wellbeing of SPU’s identity as an orthodox, evangelical, Wesleyan, and ecumenical institution of faith and learning, there is also sober acknowledgement of how this news will be received. The board acknowledges that there is disagreement among faithful Christians on the topic of sexuality and identity.

Regular faculty and staff are expected to affirm SPU’s Statement of Faith and to abide by conduct standards in the Employee Handbook, including the Employee Lifestyle Expectations. We expect community members to abide by the University position that human sexuality is a gift from God and that physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity of a man and a woman. It is expected that Seattle Pacific University faculty and staff will engage in behaviors consistent with this understanding of human sexuality.

As a religious organization, and as permitted by law, the University reserves the right to prefer employees or prospective employees on the basis of religion, including the right to expect University employees to hold certain religious beliefs, to participate in certain religious observances, and to refrain from certain conduct based on the University’s religious beliefs.

Regular faculty and staff members are expected to affirm SPU’s Statement of Faith. Our faculty and staff come from a wide range of Christian traditions, including Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Catholic, and Free Methodist. While SPU does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, SPU does have religious-based conduct expectations for faculty and staff.

Yes, many faith-based universities have similar policies, including many in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.


Free Methodist affiliation

Seattle Pacific University was founded by Free Methodist pioneers in 1891 and is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church USA. SPU also has close relationships with local Free Methodist churches.

SPU is one of a number of educational institutions that is part of the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions (AFMEI). The Free Methodist Church has identified three categories of AFMEI institutions (denominational, affiliated, and associate) and has listed criteria for qualification as an AFMEI institution in the Free Methodist Book of Discipline. SPU has denominational status and remains in good standing with the Free Methodist Church. SPU has provisions in its Articles of Incorporation and bylaws that reflect its affiliation with the Free Methodist Church.



The Board decision is related to SPU’s employment policy for faculty and staff. Undergraduate students are governed by SPU’s Student Standards of Conduct, which are based on the University's Christian mission and are intended to provide a positive learning environment, promote the intellectual, social, spiritual, and physical well-being of students, and facilitate character formation.

No, students do not have to be Christians to attend SPU; they are not required to be Free Methodist or to have any faith affiliation. SPU offers a liberal arts education grounded in the Christian faith to any student who wants to apply. 

Yes, the University is committed to supporting all undergraduate and graduate students in all their academic pursuits, Christian faith, and life in community. Acknowledging the complexity of ongoing issues related to LGBTQ gender identity and sexual orientation, SPU desires to engage these conversations with humility and care.