About the Seminary 

 

HISTORY

Hartford 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 Religious Education.

The World 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.

Hartford 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.

Throughout its history, Hartford Seminary has lived out its dedication to the concept of praxis -- putting thought and belief into action in support of faithful living.

 

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