BETHLEHEM, PA, April 21, 2021: Today, Moravian College, including the Moravian Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary announced the formation of a joint committee to explore combining the two historic institutions. Moravian College, founded in 1742, Moravian 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.
“These discussions are very preliminary, and we’ve just begun to identify where and how the joining of Moravian and the Lancaster Theological Seminary could benefit the students, faculty, and communities we both serve,” comments Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian College. “The reputation of the Lancaster Theological Seminary speaks for itself in terms of the quality of the faculty, the leadership, alumni, and the programs they provide to their students. I’m excited at the possibility, but there’s still much work to be done and many conversations that need to take place.”
Moravian Theological Seminary is part of Moravian College and offers several professional theological programs for students from various religious backgrounds. In the fall of 2020, Moravian College announced that it would be transitioning to University status in the summer of 2021 as the college grows and continues to offer both undergraduate and graduate programs leading to master and doctoral degrees. Lancaster Theological Seminary offers various masters, doctoral and certificate programs, including online classes providing Continuing Education credits (CEUs) for lay ministers, bi-vocational leaders, individuals in discernment, and others.
“This conversation is an opportunity to explore the possibility that our seminaries’ combined strengths can create an ecumenical divinity school that is even greater than the sum of its parts,” said Rev. Dr. David Rowe, interim president of Lancaster Theological Seminary. “Progressive theological education should model for the church and the world the power of alliance and unity as stewards of a common mission to transform lives for the transformation of the world.”
Several meetings among the respective boards, leadership, and faculty at both institutions are planned for the coming weeks, and updates on combining the two institutions will be provided as they become available.
Once the exploration process is completed, a report regarding a new relationship between Moravian College, Moravian Theological Seminary and Lancaster Theological Seminary will be presented to the respective Boards of Trustees and the Moravian Church for final approval.
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About Moravian College
Moravian College is the nation's sixth-oldest college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees that blend liberal arts with professional programs. For more than 275 years, the Moravian College degree has been preparing students for reflective lives, fulfilling careers, and transformative leadership in a world of change. Moravian College is a member of The New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U), 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 College 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. There are 6 full time professors and 11+ adjunct faculty members from a variety of denominations, including Moravian, Presbyterian, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Lutheran, and Episcopal Church. 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. Lancaster Theological Seminary is a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).