|History | Seabury-Western Theological Seminary|
|Bishop Charles Palmerston Anderson: A History|
The roots of Seabury-Western are in Illinois and Minnesota, in the Episcopal Church's nineteenth century missionary outreach to western America. Seabury-Western Theological Seminary was created in 1933 by the merger of Seabury Divinity School (1858, Faribault, Minnesota) and Western Theological Seminary (1883, Chicago, Illinois).
In 1858, James Lloyd Breck founded Bishop Seabury University in Faribault, Minnesota, to provide education from primary school through theological studies for both Native Americans and Euro-American settlers. He envisioned his “School of the Prophets” as the center of evangelism for the about-to-be organized Diocese of Minnesota. The Seabury Divinity School, which emerged, continued its missionary consciousness and, in the twentieth century, developed a distinctly evangelical character.
In 1883, under the leadership of Chicago's Bishop William E. McLaren, the Western Theological Seminary was chartered and built in Chicago. Its first class was held in 1885. Western's mission was to educate "fit persons in the Catholic Faith in its purity and integrity, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, held by the Primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General Councils."
Western moved from Chicago to Evanston in 1929, at the invitation of Northwestern University and the Garrett Biblical Institute. Subsequently, complementary concerns and common interests led the boards of Seabury and Western to combine their resources, and the merged Seabury-Western Theological Seminary opened its doors in Evanston on October 10, 1933. The characteristics - evangelical and catholic - that Seabury and Western, respectively, brought to the new Seminary reflect the strengths of the present Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, with its fundamental concern for learning in the service of mission. In 1994 the Seabury Institute was founded as a ministry of the Seminary to create a partnership with parishes that are exercising leadership for mission in the Church today and into the future.
In 2009, Seabury made the decision to sell its property to Northwestern University. The transaction, completed in July 2009, allowed Seabury to eliminate its debt, balance its budget, and position itself to realize its new mission: Seabury embodies generous Christianity, grounded in the Baptismal Covenant and the Episcopal tradition, as we educate lay and ordained women and men for ministry, build faith communities, and enrich people in their faith.
Seabury's 2010 accreditation report summarized its new mission and vision:
Saying Seabury is grounded in the Baptismal Covenant affirms our identity as members of the Body of Christ, all of whom are called to follow Christ and to proclaim the Good News of Christ in word and deed, not only in the church but in the world. We understand the church to be an embodiment of the mission of God, a mission of reconciliation of all and the fulfillment of God’s intentions for all that is. Thus, we educate and train persons, lay and ordained, to be leaders in a church oriented toward mission. This understanding of mission, church, and leadership has become foundational to Seabury’s identity. At the same time, it is part of the long legacy of Seabury Divinity School, founded in part to prepare people for mission to and with the Native Americans of the Upper Midwest.
In saying Seabury embodies generous Christianity, we are affirming that our Christian faith calls us to be open and receptive to all persons, with no exceptions.
Today, Seabury is home to courses and degree programs for clergy, laypeople and people interested in exploring faith issues:
- We offer a Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development in collaboration with Church Divinity School of the Pacific, built on Seabury’s great strength in this area and expanding to incorporate new innovative courses and programs. We also offer a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching in collaboration with six other seminaries in the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. Persons may also earn a Diploma and Certificate in Congregational Development.
- We offer a Diploma and Certificate in Anglican Studies which provides the equivalent of a full year of study in ministry in the Anglican tradition. Courses are online with intensive short stays on the Seabury campus.
- We also offer non-degree courses and programs for lay leaders and clergy and special continuing education events.