Andover Theological Seminary
In 1807, New England Congregationalists authorized the trustees of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts to reserve property for the founding of a theological seminary. Phillips Academy had been created for “the Promotion of true Piety and Virtue” and was an ideal setting for the location of a graduate training school for ministers. In 1808, Andover Theological Seminary became the first educational institution in the United States to offer courses in graduate studies. Prior to Andover’s founding, American Protestant ministers attended undergraduate colleges and then went on to work under the tutelage of active clergy appointed to local churches and parishes. Andover Theological Seminary helped change this model of education by offering graduate coursework for prospective clergy.
The original faculty of Andover Theological Seminary left Harvard College over theological concerns related to growing academic interest in Unitarianism. The faculty created their own instructional spaces for graduate education, establishing a department of divinity and raising funds for the creation of the first endowed professorship in North America. Andover offered courses in Bible, Church History, Doctrinal Theology, and Practical Ministry and established a three-year curricular model copied by divinity schools throughout the United States.
The students of Andover Theological Seminary were proactive in the practice of modern missions, the abolitionist movement and the propagation of the Social Gospel. Samuel Mills and Adoniram Judson formed student groups known as the Society of the Brethren and the Society of Inquiry on the Subject of Missions. Additional organizations included the Samaritan Female Society of Andover and Vicinity which provided free rooms, furniture, and medicine for students in need of assistance. Professor William Jewett Tucker was concerned about the social condition of American society and offered students scholarships to practice ministry in prisons and urban centers such as the Andover House in Boston’s South End.
In 1906, the Trustees of Andover Theological Seminary approved a formal affiliation between Andover and Harvard Divinity School. In 1908, Andover students began taking classes at Harvard, and a new building holding classrooms was built in Cambridge, Massachusetts to house Andover students through this new partnership. By 1931, the trustees of Andover and Newton agreed to an affiliation that would move Andover’s students to the Newton campus. Each school kept its corporate identity and appointed a separate Board of Trustees.
In March 1965, Andover Theological Seminary and Newton Theological Institution legally merged to form Andover Newton Theological School. The union brought together the first Congregational graduate school and the original Baptist seminary as one graduate institution.
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