Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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Coordinates: 40°28′00″N 79°55′18″W / 40.46667°N 79.92167°W / 40.46667; -79.92167

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, founded in 1794, is a graduate theological institution associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is located in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and houses one of the larger theological libraries in the nation.

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary - George H. Long Hall


Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was formed in 1959, the result of a consolidation of two previously separate Presbyterian institutions: the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.'s Western Theological Seminary and the United Presbyterian Church of North America's Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. The consolidation was the result of the 1958 merger between the PCUSA and the UPCNA to form the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

The history of the Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary began with the founding of Service Seminary (Associate Theological Seminary in the town of Service, Beaver County, PA) in 1792 by the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania. Prior to that time, the Presbytery was dependent on a supply of ministers sent from Scotland. The Rev. John Anderson, D.D., was elected as the first teacher of divinity and the school began with an enrollment of six students. Service Seminary moved several times, from Service to Canonsburg, PA, then to Xenia, Ohio, where it became Xenia Theological Seminary. This occurred in the 1850s and was prompted by a desire to locate nearer to the growing population in the midwest. The Rev. Joseph Kyle joined the faculty in 1900 (leaving 4th U.P. Church in Allegheny, PA). In approximately 1914 Kyle was appointed president. In 1920 the trustees determined to move the seminary to St. Louis, MO, also to be nearer to potential students in the plains states. In 1921 the Rev. Dr. Kyle died unexpectedly. This loss of leadership at a crucial transition period created problems for the fledgling institution and it never really took root. In 1930 it merged with a seminary that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1825 and together they formed the Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. This institution was later augmented by the resources of Newburgh Seminary, founded in New York City in 1805 by John Mitchell Mason.

Western Theological Seminary, the other branch of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's pre-1959 history, began with the establishment of classical academies in Washington, PA, the first in 1785 by Joseph Smith and another in 1787 by John McMillan. Out of these academies, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA created Western Seminary. It was indeed a western seminary in 1825, furnishing a ministry for the rapidly opening frontier territories along the Ohio River.

Since the 1959 consolidation, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has been located on the former Pittsburgh-Xenia Seminary campus in the Highland Park/East Liberty section of Pittsburgh. It became a PC(U.S.A.) seminary following the 1983 merger between the UPCUSA and the Presbyterian Church in the United States.


Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The seminary has scholars in all major fields of theological inquiry, and offers language training in Greek and Hebrew. The following degrees are offered by the institution:

The seminary also cooperates with other institutions within the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education to offer joint degree programs, including;

Clifford E. Barbour Library[edit]

The Clifford E. Barbour Library [1] is the most important theological resource in Western Pennsylvania. Its 300,000 volumes, several online databases, and more than 800 periodical subscriptions make it one of the larger stand-alone theological libraries in the United States. The library is located in a three story building of American Colonial design, dedicated in 1964. The library houses several valuable collections, including the John M. Mason Memorial Collection, which consists of many rare theological works dating from the Reformation. On display in the Hansen Reading Room are the desk and chair of Karl Barth, dedicated to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary by Barth's son, Markus Barth, a faculty member from 1963-1972. Many of the books and periodicals in the collection were made possible by a $15 million gift from wealthy banker and businessman Thomas Clinton.

Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology[edit]

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is home to the Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology. The museum contains a collection of ancient Near Eastern and Palestinian pottery and artifacts brought together by travelers and archeologists over the past 60 years. Many exhibits resulted from the eight excavations of which the seminary has been a part.

The Seminary is very involved in Biblical archaeology, and sponsors the Zeitah Excavations in Israel at Tel Zayit.[1] The excavation was founded under the direction of Professor Ron E. Tappy, Professor of Bible and Archaeology and director of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology. The excavation began in 1999 with a 55 member international team of experts and volunteers. In July 2005, excavators discovered a rare find: an inscription dating to the 10th century BCE (King Solomon’s reign). The two-line inscription, on a 33-pound limestone boulder embedded in the stone wall of a building, is the earliest securely-dated example of the complete Hebrew alphabet (an "abecedary"). The letters show a transitional script emerging from Phoenician and leading to the Hebrew national script of the 9th century BCE. The first significant inscription from this period in nearly a century, the discovery made world news. (Read more in The New York Times.) It makes an important contribution to the heated debate over the history and literacy of the region in the 10th century BCE.

Metro-Urban Institute[edit]

The Metro-Urban Institute At Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (MUI) was founded in 1991 as a program of religious leadership development for an increasingly urbanized society. By combining the theory and practice of collaborative community ministry into a program of urban theological education, MUI prepares students for excellence in any context of ministry. This is done through a focus on public issues affecting the urban environment. MUI encourages an interfaith and interdisciplinary approaches to solving social problems and encourage compassionate ministries of justice, service, and advocacy in order to promote systemic change that improves the quality of life within the city.

MUI offers several degree and certificate programs. Students matriculating in either the MDiv or MA programs of PTS may earn a Graduate Certificate in Urban Ministry. Students may also earn the Christian Leadership Certificate (CLC) program, quality theological education for students regardless of academic background.

The MUI also coordinates the Urban Church Network (UCN), a working association congregations and community organizations throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The UCN's churches, community agencies, and educational institutions covenant with PTS and MUI to address in a holistic fashion the social, environmental, and spiritual realities that affect the quality of life in the city, especially in soio-economically challenged communities.

World Mission Initiative[edit]

World Mission Initiative (WMI) at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is a fellowship of Presbyterians dedicated to developing mission vision, nurturing missionary vocation, and cultivating missional congregations. Visit the WMI website at www.worldmissioninitiative.org. [2]

WMI has a student focus and prepares seminarians to become pastors with a larger Christian worldview and a passion for mission in addition to coordinating cross-cultural trips. WMI also has a church focus and works to train world Christian pastors to lead the church missionally and inter-culturally. WMI hosts missionaries, national church leaders, and scholars on campus throughout the year.

Miller Summer Youth Institute[edit]

The seminary sponsors the Miller Summer Youth Institute (SYI), which provides young people a Christian community where they can be challenged to grow in faith, engage in academic theological study, explore ministry as a vocation, and learn about Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. All SYI participants receive full scholarships that cover room, board, and tuition.

Student Body and Organizations[edit]

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and more than 20 denominations are represented in the student body. More than 300 students are enrolled in degree programs at PTS, and are instructed by more than 20 full-time faculty members.

Several student groups and organizations are present at the seminary. Groups that have remained active include African-American Student Fellowship (NIA), The Evangelical Student Fellowship (ESF), the International Student Association, the Peace & Justice Fellowship, Sports and Recreation, and a number of denominational fellowships.

Faculty and alumni[edit]

Prominent faculty include:

Prominent graduates include:


  1. ^ Zeitah Excavations: Affiliated Organizations and Resources

External links[edit]