Seminary's innovations trace to 1833, when a group of Congregational
ministers formed the Pastoral Union of Connecticut to train
ministerial leadership for the churches. They organized a school,
which opened the following year at East Windsor Hill. In 1865, the
Theological Institute of Connecticut was moved to Hartford, and 20
years later was renamed the Hartford Theological Seminary. In the
early twentieth century it became a founding member of the American
Association of Theological Schools.
In 1885, in
response to a need for trained leadership in the growing educational
work of the churches, a group in Springfield, Massachusetts, organized
The School for Christian Workers, later the Bible Normal College. Four
years later the Seminary's Board of Trustees voted unanimously to
admit female students, and in so doing, became the first seminary in
America to open its doors to women.
In 1902, the Bible
Normal School was moved to Hartford to work in affiliation with the
Seminary, and its name was changed to the Hartford School of Religious
Pedagogy and later to The Hartford School of Religious Education. The
school was a founding member of The American Association of Schools of
Missionary Conference at Edinburgh in 1910 called for specialized
preparation of missionaries. In response, in 1911 the Seminary
organized the Hartford School of Missions, incorporating in it the
missionary training that had long been growing within its own program.
Mrs. Emma Baker Kennedy of New York City, a lifelong supporter of
missionary work, endowed the school in memory of her husband, the late
John Stewart Kennedy, and in his honor the name was changed to The
Kennedy School of Missions.
In 1913 the three
schools joined into "a single corporation in the nature of an
interdenominational university of religion." For nearly half a
century these schools, later joined by the Institute of Church and
Community, worked together, sharing each other's resources and
providing training on the same campus for a wide diversity of
vocations. In 1961, the separate faculties legally merged into the
Hartford Seminary Foundation.
By 1972, in
response to changing needs in theological education and in the
churches, the Seminary restructured its program to phase out
pre-ordination education and focus upon the leadership development of
laity and clergy; educational outreach to clergy and the public;
congregational research and development; research into the role of the
church in society; and Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim relations.
An award-winning modern building of international renown was designed
by Richard Meier and opened in 1981, the same year the name was
changed to Hartford Seminary. Read
more about the Hartford Seminary building.
Seminary's recent history bears witness to its innovative past. In
1990, the Seminary became the first nondenominational theological
institution in North America to name a female president. The next year
marked another "first"; Hartford Seminary named a Muslim to
its core faculty.
history, Hartford Seminary has lived out its dedication to the concept
of praxis -- putting thought and belief into action in support of