Boston University School of Theology
School of Theology
Seal of Boston University
|Dean||Mary Elizabeth Moore|
|Location||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Affiliations||Boston University, Boston Theological Institute, The United Methodist Church|
Boston University School of Theology (BUSTH) is the oldest theological seminary of American Methodism and the founding school of Boston University, the largest private research university in New England. It is one of thirteen theological schools maintained by the United Methodist Church. BUSTH is a member of the Boston Theological Institute consortium.
On 24–25 April 1839 a group of Methodist ministers and laymen met at the Old Bromfield Street Church in Boston and elected to establish a Methodist theological school. Following that vote, Osmon C. Baker, director of the Newbury Seminary, a high school and literary institution in Newbury, Vermont, started a biblical studies program at the seminary in 1840. It was named the Newbury Biblical Institute.
In 1847 a Congregational Society in Concord, New Hampshire, invited the Institute to relocate to Concord and made available a disused Congregational church building with a capacity of 1200 people. Other citizens of Concord covered the remodeling costs. One stipulation of the invitation was that the Institute remain in Concord for at least 20 years. The charter issued by New Hampshire designated the school the "Methodist General Biblical Institute", but it was commonly called the "Concord Biblical Institute." The school graduated its first class in 1850.
With the agreed twenty years coming to a close, the Trustees of the Concord Biblical Institute purchased 30 acres (120,000 m2) on Aspinwall Hill in Brookline, Massachusetts as a possible relocation site. The Institute moved in 1867 to 23 Pinkney Street in Boston and received a Massachusetts Charter as the "Boston Theological Institute."
In 1869, three Trustees of the Boston Theological Institute obtained from the Massachusetts Legislature a charter for a university by name of "Boston University." These three were successful Boston businessmen and Methodist laymen, with a history of involvement in educational enterprises and became the Founders of Boston University. In 1871, the Boston Theological Institute was incorporated into Boston University as its first professional school, the Boston University School of Theology.
Over the course of its history, the Boston University School of Theology played a central role in the development of the fields of philosophical theology (e.g. Boston Personalism), social ethics, missions and ecumenism, and pastoral psychology. Because of its roots in the egalitarianism of nineteenth-century Methodism, from its beginning the school admitted women and African-Americans for all degree programs. In 1880, Anna Howard Shaw, the second woman to graduate from the school, became the first woman ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church, one of the forerunners of the United Methodist Church. As late as the 1960s, the vast majority of African-Americans with doctorates in religion were trained at Boston University. A study in 1983 showed that the largest number of doctoral dissertations in mission studies had been produced at Boston University.
Centers and institutes
The following centers and institutes are affiliated with Boston University School of Theology:
- The Anna Howard Shaw Center: Director, Dr. Hee An Choi
- The Center for Global Christianity and Mission: Director, Dr. Dana Robert
- The Center for Practical Theology: Co-Directors, Dr. Bryan Stone and Dr. Claire Wolfteich
- The Religion and Conflict Transformation Program: Co-Directors, Dr. Rodney L. Petersen and Thomas Porter
The Boston University School of Theology includes several special academic programs, including one of only seven Master of Sacred Music (MSM) programs in the United States. The academic degrees offered are as follows:
- Master of Divinity (MDiv) - six semesters.
- Master of Theological Studies (MTS) - four semesters.
- Master of Sacred Music (MSM) - four semesters.
- Master of Sacred Theology (STM) - two semesters. (The STM in Military Chaplaincy was recently introduced, with a concentration in either Religion and Conflict Transformation or Trauma Healing.)
- Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - in Practical Theology
- Doctor of Theology (ThD)- On December 18, 2013, Boston University approved the proposal of the faculty of the School of Theology to convert its ThD (Doctor of Theology) degree to a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degree effective January 1, 2014.
Additionally, the following degree programs are available within the School of Theology and in conjunction with the Boston University School of Social Work:
- MDiv/Master of Social Work (MSW)
The PhD programs offered through the Division of Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) at Boston University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences share many students and faculty with the School of Theology.
Classes at BUSTH are organized into four broad groupings:
- Area A - Biblical and Historical Studies
- Area B - Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics
- Area C - Religion, Culture, and Personality
- Area D - Ministry in Church and Society
While the school has extremely strong faculty in all of these areas, BUSTH has a particularly strong reputation in several academic areas. These include religion and science; missiology and World Christianity; theology and philosophy; religion and conflict transformation; social and environmental ethics; and religion and counseling.
The Boston University School of Theology is a member of the Boston Theological Institute. Students at any of the eight member schools may enroll in classes at any other school. Thus, BUSTH has access to a wide range of academic resources beyond those at the school itself.
Prominent alumni of BUSTH include the presidents of Methodist institutions such as DePauw University, dozens of Methodist bishops, and numerous prominent teachers and pastors. Important leaders who graduated from the school include the following:
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., noted civil rights activist and Nobel laureate for peace
- Bishop Edgar Amos Love, esteemed Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church and co-founder of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.;
- Dr. James L. Farmer, Sr., the first African-American from Texas to earn a doctorate;
- Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, President of Suffrage Association, she was a leader of the movement of women's suffrage in the United States.
- Samuel Logan Brengle, Salvation Army theologian;
- Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, theologian;
- Rev. Dr. Alan F. Geyer, noted Methodist theologian and scholar for political science, ethics, civil rights, and peace;
- Dr. Georgia Harkness, Methodist woman theologian;
- Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, positive thinker and founder of Guideposts magazine;
- Rev. Dr. Steven W. Brown, Homiletics professor at RTS and nationally syndicated broadcaster;
- George Lincoln Blackwell, theologian and author;
- John J. Thatamanil, comparative theologian;
- Dr. Amos Yong, Pentecostal theologian;
- George L. Fox - one of the "four chaplains" on the USAT Dorchester in WWII;
- Ralph Edward Dodge - a Bishop of The Methodist Churchin Rhodesia;
- S. Clifton Ives (M.Div., 1963; D.Min., 1983) - a Bishop of the United Methodist Church;
- Garfield Bromley Oxnam - a Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church;
- Dallas Lore Sharp - (1870- ) - Minister, university professor, and author;
- Woodie W. White (S.T.B., 1961) - a Bishop of the United Methodist Church;
- Samuel DeWitt Proctor, famous African-American preacher and civil rights leader;
- Walter G. Muelder, ecumenical leader, theorist of the "responsible society," and shaper of Christian social ethics;
- Catherine Gunsalus Gonzalez, author and Professor Emerita at Columbia Theological Seminary
- Chai-Sik Chung, social ethicist and sociologist of religion
Organizations and activities
BUSTH is host to a number of student groups and hosted organizations. The latter include the Organ Library of the New England Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Student groups operate under the aegis of the school's student body government, the Boston University Theological Students' Association (BUTSA). Student groups include Sacred Worth (a student organization devoted to the sacred worth of all individuals, regardless of gender or orientation), Korean Students Association, Black Seminarians, CAUSE (a group that promotes social and ecological justice), the MTS club (for fellowship among theology students), thEcology Group (a group devoted to ecological justice and sustainability initiatives), and the Seminary Singers, the service choir for the Wednesday Chapel service.
- BUSTH webpage, "Newbury Biblical Institute"
- BUSTH webpage, "Methodist General Biblical Institute"
- BUSTH history webpage, "Boston, Beacon Hill"
- Anna Howard Shaw Center webpage
- DePauw University: Presidents of DePauw