Bethlehem, PA, July 19, 2021: Today, Moravian University, including the Moravian Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary have received formal approval to commence work to combine the two seminaries. In April of this year both schools announced the formation of a joint committee to explore combining the two historic institutions, pending final approval from the respective Boards of Trustees and the Moravian Church.
Moravian University, founded in 1742, Moravian Theological Seminary, founded in 1807, and Lancaster Theological Seminary, founded in 1825, have long and storied histories of providing educational and formational opportunities for students from a variety of backgrounds and have prepared generations of students to serve the church and the world.
On July 10, a Special Synod of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church convened and voted to approve the definitive agreement to combine, allowing work to begin consolidating the two institutions. This approval follows approval by the Boards of both Moravian and Lancaster on June 21, 2021.
“The combination of Moravian and Lancaster Theological Seminaries as part of the Moravian University family creates a partnership that generates both missional and financial benefits,” said Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian University.
"We are excited about combining our historic seminary with Moravian to create an ecumenical partnership to serve an even wider global faith community," said Eric Hoerner, acting president of Lancaster Theological Seminary. "We are grateful for the discernment, grace, and commitment of all who helped bring this opportunity to fruition, and we move forward in our mission with renewed hope and joy."
Within a short period, Bryon Grigsby will become the president, and the Rev. Dr. Heather Vacek will become the dean of Lancaster Theological Seminary. The Rev. Dr. Vanessa Lovelace, academic dean and vice president of Academic Affairs at Lancaster Theological Seminary since 2019, will be Associate Dean of Lancaster Theological Seminary.
The Rev. Dr. Heather Vacek, vice president and dean at Moravian Theological Seminary, commented, “I am thrilled about the possibilities the future holds for a combined Lancaster Theological Seminary and Moravian Theological Seminary. The two institutions have compatible missions and approaches to theological education, enabling faculty and staff to partner to serve a range of constituents well, including those pursuing ministry in the Moravian Church and the United Church of Christ.“
Moravian Theological Seminary and Lancaster Theological Seminary each will teach their current degree and certificate program curricula during the 2021-22 academic year. Shared marketing activities will begin immediately. Students will be able to take courses at either campus as soon as feasible.
Final consolidation, subject to an Agreement to Consolidate, is expected to take several years and is contingent upon regulatory approvals of the Association of Theological Schools, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, among others.
For more information, please visit moravian.edu/mts-lts
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About Moravian University
Moravian University is the nation's sixth-oldest university, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that blend liberal arts with professional programs. For more than 275 years, the Moravian University degree has been preparing students for reflective lives, fulfilling careers, and transformative leadership in a world of change. Moravian University is a member of The New American Colleges and Universities (NACU), a national consortium of selective, small-to-midsize independent colleges and universities dedicated to the purposeful integration of liberal education, professional studies, and civic engagement. Visit moravian.edu to learn more about how the Moravian University focus on education for all prepares its students for life-long success.
About Moravian Theological Seminary
Since its earliest days in Bohemia and Moravia, the Moravian Church has promoted education and has provided the best possible training for its leaders. Until the beginning of the 19th century, clergy for the Moravian Church in America were trained in European universities and in the Moravians’ own theological schools in Germany. A growing sense of American national identity, however, coupled with the difficulties of transatlantic travel, led to the founding of Moravian Theological Seminary in October 1807. In the mid-19th century the seminary moved from Nazareth to Bethlehem and grew into Moravian College and Theological Seminary (chartered 1863).
Today, Moravian Theological Seminary continues to serve the Moravian Church, but has become an active and progressive ecumenical seminary that continues to innovate in order to prepare faith leaders for the 21st century. Moravian Theological Seminary offers graduate and continuing education programs that equip persons with the knowledge, skills, and being to engage in vocations in ministry, chaplaincy, counseling, spiritual direction and other settings. Rooted in the Moravian heritage of ecumenism and service, we welcome students preparing to serve in diverse socioeconomic, intercultural, and interfaith contexts. Six full time professors and 11+ adjunct faculty members come from a variety of denominations, including The Moravian Church, The American Baptist Church, The United Methodist Church, The United Church of Christ, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The student body represents 20 denominations. The Seminary offers 4 degree programs and 4 certificate programs. Visit moravianseminary.edu to learn more.
About Lancaster Theological Seminary
Founded in 1825, Lancaster Theological Seminary is an inclusive, ecumenical community of faith and learning. It is one of six seminaries associated with the United Church of Christ, a progressive denomination committed to a just world for all. The mission of Lancaster Theological Seminary is to educate and nurture leaders to join in God’s redemptive and liberating work so that all creation may flourish. The Seminary is known for academic excellence, celebration of differences across Christian faith traditions, and creative engagement on issues important to our world. At any one time, Lancaster Seminary’s student body may represent 20 or more different denominations as well as individuals without denominational affiliation. The Seminary offers four graduate degree programs and two certificate programs. Visit lancasterseminary.edu to learn more.