Beliefs RNS Press Release Service

Two historic Pennsylvania seminaries become United Lutheran Seminary July 1

At the exact midpoint of the 500th anniversary year of Martin Luther’s initiation of the 16th Century Reformation, two American theological seminaries will become one school. At the stroke of midnight, July 1, 2017 Gettysburg Seminary and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia will form United Lutheran Seminary on two campuses in Gettysburg and Philadelphia.

Founded in 1826, Gettysburg Seminary is the oldest continuing Lutheran theological school in the Americas and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia got its start in 1864. Together the schools have graduated more than 10,000 church leaders who have served in religious and public contexts. The school will operate on both campuses.

“The United Lutheran Seminary is a new venture founded on rich traditions,” said Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, speaking for the 3.8-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). “It brings together urban and rural, Lutheran and ecumenical ministries,” she added.

One seminary on two campuses, United Lutheran Seminary opens with 325 students and with 21 faculty members. Both schools’ boards determined to create a stronger school, one that could offer premier programs on both campuses, sustain a larger faculty than either alone, and offer enhanced learning formats in distributed, online and hybrid settings. The campuses are located in Mount Airy, Philadelphia and Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  

As the United Lutheran Seminary comes into being, it will also receive its first leader, the Rev. Dr. Theresa F. Latini. Latini said the “strength of United Lutheran Seminary comes from its trust in God’s grace and its call to join Jesus’ ministry of healing, justice, and reconciliation.” She added “Our wide array of educational programs as well as our communal practices of worship and care will prepare students for faithful and innovative ministry in the twenty-first century.”

With the new school comes a newly-designed, integrative curriculum. Kristin Largen and Kiran Sebastian, co-deans, emphasized that faculty will offer interdisciplinary perspectives in classrooms in ways that enrich the pedagogy for seminarians.

United Lutheran Seminary addresses student debt with unprecedented financial aid, with full tuition scholarships for eligible full time ELCA students and generous matching of grants to students from other traditions up to full tuition levels.

United Lutheran Seminary begins its life fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Association of Theological Schools. The Department of Education of the Commonwealth of PA has issued approval of the consolidation of the two schools.   

“May God bless students, faculty and staff as they set out on this journey together,” said Presiding Bishop Eaton, and “Godspeed!” to this new school.