Seabury's 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.

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary's roots are firmly planted in the Anglican tradition 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.