New York Theological Seminary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
New York Theological Seminary
New York Theological Seminary Logo
Established 1902
Religious affiliation Non-Demoninational
President Dale T. Irvin
Location New York City, New York, USA

The New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) was established as a non-denominational institution in 1900 with the founding of the Bible Teachers’ College in Montclair, New Jersey by Wilbert Webster White. President White moved the school to New York City in 1902, when it was renamed the Bible Teachers’ Training School. In 1921 the corporate name was changed to The Biblical Seminary in New York, and then in 1966 to New York Theological Seminary. In 2002 the seminary moved to the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, with offices in the Interchurch Center and classrooms in the Riverside Church and the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. The Rev. Dr. Dale T. Irvin, an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches, was appointed President of the seminary in 2005. He also serves as Professor of World Christianity.

As President of the seminary from 1969 to 1983, George W. Webber doubled enrollment, expanding attendance by African American, Hispanic and female students.[1]


New York Theological Seminary began its life in 1900 as the Bible Teacher’s College in Montclair, NJ.[2] Under the direction of its founder, Wilbert Webster White, the school sought intentionally to bridge the divide that had then begun to open between university-based and Bible school forms of theological education. A gifted scholar and teacher, President White was a leading proponent of what was known as “the inductive Bible study method.” He believed that the Bible ought to be taught in English and allowed to occupy the central position in the theological curriculum. The method lent itself easily to an emphasis on practical training for ministry, which characterized the institution from its inception.

President White moved the school to New York City in 1902 in order to provide what he called a more “cosmopolitan” setting for the ministerial training of students, renaming it the Bible Teachers’ Training School.[3] In 1921 the corporate name was changed to The Biblical Seminary in New York, and then in 1967 to New York Theological Seminary. From 1900 through the 1960s the Seminary trained numerous men and women who went on into pastoral ministry, missions work, Christian education and teaching around the world. From its founding the school demonstrated a strong commitment to the education of women as well as men, and to members of all races and denominations.

In the early 1970s New York Theological Seminary under the leadership of another gifted theological educator, George W. Webber, took on a new mission, of providing accessible and affordable theological education to men and women in the greater New York metropolitan area who were already in ministry, were bi-vocational, or were contemplating a shift from a secular to a religious vocation. The Seminary sold its campus and relocated to more affordable space, and began offering its programs at nights or on week-ends when urban church leaders who worked full-time could attend. For several years it suspended granting the M. Div. degree and focused on offering the S.T.M. degree, a newly formed Certificate in Christian Ministry, and continuing education opportunities for urban church leaders. In the mid-1970s the Seminary added the M.P.S. and D. Min. degree programs. In the early 1980s it began to offer the M. Div. degree again, and began what has become a highly acclaimed Master’s degree program inside Sing Sing Correctional Facility that trains inmates from throughout the New York State prison system for ministry within the system. In the 1990s the curriculum was modified to reflect the Seminary’s commitment to social and community analysis and the increasingly multicultural urban context. In 2002 the Seminary moved to the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan. Located with offices in The Interchurch Center, with classrooms in The Riverside Church, and making use of the Columbia University Library System which includes the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, NYTS is well-positioned at the intersection of the church, the city and the academy.


NYTS is fully accredited by New York State and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.[4] The Seminary currently offers four accredited degrees: Master of Professional Studies, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Divinity, as well as a non-accredited Certificate in Christian Ministry.

NYTS’ only residential program is located inside Sing Sing Correctional Facility, where every year 15 inmates from throughout the New York State prison system are transferred to complete a one-year intensive Master of Professional Studies degree. The rest of its approximately 600 students attend classes that are held evenings and week-ends to accommodate those who work in secular employment. Instruction is offered in four languages - English, Spanish, Korean and French. Through these and other measures the Seminary seeks to make accredited and non-accredited theological education accessible and relevant to the New York City metropolitan region. Graduates have distinguished themselves throughout the nation in ministry in a variety of ministries in churches, faith-based organizations, and the secular professions. They serve as pastors, bishops, chaplains, teachers, business leaders, university presidents, executives, lawyers, medical doctors, missionaries, and more. The Seminary has often been cited as a model for institutions around the world in addressing the needs of those living in urban centers and facing the challenge of contemporary global economic and social conditions.

Master of Professional Studies[edit]

NYTS designed the Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Ministry as a means of providing a sound foundation in biblical studies, ministry studies, theology, ethics, and other disciplines. The program offers the opportunity to pursue formal seminary training within the context of specific interests, such as Christian education or pastoral care, which is increasingly attractive to lay persons and others who do not intend to seek full ordination in their church.[5]

Master of Divinity Program[edit]

The NYTS Master of Divinity is a 90-credit graduate degree program designed for men and women who are already in ministry, who are bi-vocational, or who are contemplating a shift from a secular to a religious vocation. Classes are offered in the evening and at other times that are accessible to those who work in secular employment. The curriculum is designed to be completed over a four-year period, although some students are able to complete it in three years while others elect to take longer.

Students in the program come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, professional experiences, and theological identities. Many commute a considerable distance to avail themselves of the rich educational opportunities that NYTS offers. The Seminary places a great deal of emphasis not only upon diversity but also inclusion. Students from all walks of life will find themselves welcomed into a community of learning that takes seriously their call to ministry.

All NYTS programs are oriented toward ministry in a contemporary global urban context. The Seminary takes seriously the challenge in Jeremiah 29:7 “to seek the shalom of the city.” Students will find a strong emphasis placed upon the churches and congregations of the city that are the Seminary’s partners in the educational venture, and upon the Seminary’s efforts to help churches develop their pastoral leadership as well as become active agents of transformation.

The Seminary offers a modified Korean and Spanish language track as part of its M. Div. program. Courses in the arts of ministry are offered regularly in these languages, designed to enable students who minister within these contexts to do so with increased competency. Additional courses emphasize the distinct contributions of African-American, Asian, and Latino/a experience to ministry in the contemporary context. Courses dealing with issues of justice in community, with empowerment of women, and with a variety of expressions of Christian spirituality are all likewise part of the program’s curriculum, reflecting the Seminary’s commitments to diversity and inclusion.[6]

Pastoral Care Specialist[edit]

The Pastoral Care Specialist Program Specialization in the Master of Divinity Program at New York Theological Seminary has been designed to offer clergy and designated pastoral care givers a basic body of knowledge necessary to address congregational pastoral care needs. The courses included in the program seek to address issues of pastoral identity and formation, pastoral care theology, current theoretical and practical understanding of the complexity of human development and behavior, and the basic skills necessary to address particular situations as well as the importance of professional referrals.

The program provides the basic training for those who would like to pursue further counseling training in appropriate accredited institutions. This program is an excellent opportunity for people who are willing to work in a supportive caring role within the life of the congregation and who may be contemplating pastoral counseling or chaplaincy as an expression of their call to ministry.

The New York Theological Seminary is in the application process for Institutional Membership with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Our program will uphold the training standards of the Association as well as their Code of Ethics. New York Theological Seminarians may apply to the American Association of Pastoral Counselors to become a Pastoral Care Specialist member in this organization.[7]

Doctor of Ministry Program[edit]

Doctor of Divinity Program[edit]

The Doctors of Ministry and Divinity programs are an advanced professional degree appropriate for clergy and lay leaders with significant ministry experience who desire to deepen and improve their ministries through a disciplined and integrative process of action, reflection, and research. The primary objective is to develop professional competencies, critical skills for reflection on ministry, the capacity for focused advanced theological research and interpretation, and appropriate interpersonal skills for service in specific, constituency-based contexts. The program is designed especially to prepare church leadership for effective ministries of personal and social transformation in the context of a multicultural, globalizing, and urbanizing world.

The approach to learning is participatory, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and dialogical. Through the study of Scripture, religion and theology, ethics, the social sciences (sociology, history, politics, political economy, psychology, and counseling), and the arts of ministry, students and faculty from diverse contexts are mutually engaged in creating opportunities for critical and imaginative forms of ministry and mission.

An important feature of the program is its emphasis upon collegiality. Peer relationships with other students and close working relationships with faculty are expected to be developed. A commitment to mutual respect, trust, and cooperation is nurtured throughout the program. This commitment to collegiality is extended beyond the immediate participants of the classroom to those with whom the candidate is involved in ministry through the formation of a Site Team, which is a committee of persons selected from the context of the student's ministry that works with the student for the duration of his/her program. Equally important is a commitment to the creation of pastoral leadership and identity, particularly as a practice of spiritual formation, through critical analysis, evaluation, and assessment.

The design of the program is based on the recognition that students are fully engaged in ministry, and therefore, may be limited in their work on campus. Toward this end, the Seminary has made provisions to accommodate the particular constraints under which the students may operate, even as it encourages students to improve their knowledge and skills and continue with their existing professional responsibilities. The Doctor of Ministry Program requires a minimum of three years to complete, and in all cases candidates are expected to complete their programs within six years of their matriculation. Program formats and designs are constantly being reviewed and re-structured to meet these needs.

Students are granted matriculation status upon entrance into the program. Upon successful completion of the course work and approval of the Proposal for a Demonstration Project, they are granted candidate status.[8]


Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion[edit]

The Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion (CSPUR), formerly the Ecologies of Learning Project (EOL), is a research and action Center based at New York Theological Seminary.

Founded by the late Lowell Livezey, former Professor of Urban Studies and Religion, NYTS received a grant in 2004 for the Ecologies of Learning project which developed into the Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion (CSPUR) in 2009.

CSPUR is an interactive network of scholars, seminary students, clergy, and community leaders in metropolitan New York who are committed to producing knowledge and events that are useful and empowering to communities of faith, neighborhoods, government and private agencies. CSPUR accomplishes this by including members of NYC communities in planning and research, to help strengthen and transform our City and empower religious communities as agents in the City. CSPUR share its findings and sponsor public events, strengthening communities of faith as agents in the City.

At CSPUR people work together to learn about the impact of communities of faith in New York City and beyond. CSPUR conducts research to determine how churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other religious organizations shape the City, and how changes in the City affect these institutions. The goal of CSPUR is to help religious leaders, scholars, public officials and secular organizations understand communities of faith and the role of religion in urban life.

Center for World Christianity[edit]

Established in 2004 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, the Center for World Christianity seeks to support the Seminary’s mission to prepare men and women for ministry in a global context. As an academic field, World Christianity encompasses the traditional areas of mission studies, ecumenical studies, and the study of world religions. The work of the Center at NYTS builds upon these disciplines but seeks to move beyond them to engage areas of ministry in global urban contexts more intentionally. Programs of the Center include special courses, an annual major lecture, publication of the online Journal of World Christianity, a summer institute for multicultural ministry (offered in cooperation with the Presbyterian Church USA Office on Multicultural Ministry), and more. Additional support for faculty and students interested in better understanding and engaging Christianity as a truly world religion today are also available.

Fund for Community Leadership Initiatives[edit]

PROJECTNYTS is the new social-action arm of New York Theological Seminary, organized as a nonprofit corporation controlled by the Seminary under the formal name of FUND FOR COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP INITIATIVES. It serves the seminary’s alumnae and alumni, partner congregations and other friends as they seek to meet the needs of the communities they lead. FCLI facilitates and supports faith-based and community- based programs,projects and organizations that focus on serving the underserved of New York City and beyond.

Services include program site identification and convening, management consulting and training, back-office assistance, start-up support and program coordination and planning. In addition, FCLI initiates its own start-ups, securing funding and providing full-service administration and program management.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Martin, Douglas. "George W. Webber, Social Activist Minister, Dies at 90", The New York Times, July 12, 2010. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  2. ^ "Bible Teacher’s College: More Than 300 Studies and Lectures to Constitute the Course", The New York Times, November 8, 1900. Accessed March 30, 2011.
  3. ^ "BIBLE TEACHERS' COLLEGE TO REMOVE TO THIS CITY.; Will Leave Montclair, N.J., at the Beginning of the New Year -- Institution's Future Plans.", The New York Times, December 21, 1901. Accessed March 30, 2011.
  4. ^ "ATS-Member Schools-New York Theological Seminary", The Association of Theological Schools, Access March 30, 2011
  5. ^ "Master of Professional Studies" , New York Theological Seminary, Accessed march 30, 2011
  6. ^ "Master of Divinity Program", New York Theological Seminary, Accessed march 30, 2011
  7. ^ "Pastoral Care Specialist", New York Theological Seminary, Accessed March 30, 2011
  8. ^ "Doctor of Ministry Program", New York Theological Seminary, Accessed March 30, 2011

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°48′40″N 73°57′50″W / 40.811178°N 73.963903°W / 40.811178; -73.963903