Andover Newton Theological School

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Andover Newton Theological School
Seal of Andover Newton Theological School
Former names
Andover Theological Seminary (1807–1965), Newton Theological Institution (1825–1965), Andover Newton Theological School (1965–2018)
Religious affiliation
United Church of Christ, American Baptist Churches USA
Location, ,
United States

Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS) was a graduate school and seminary in Newton, Massachusetts, affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ. It was the product of a merger between Andover Theological Seminary and Newton Theological Institution. In recent years, it was an official open and affirming seminary, meaning that it was open to students of same-sex attraction or transgender orientation and generally advocated for tolerance of it in church and society.[1]

In November 2015, the school announced that it would sell its campus and become part of Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut,[2] a process it completed in July 2017.[3]


Andover Newton was a product of a 1965 merger between two schools of theology: Andover Theological Seminary and Newton Theological Institution. The two institutions had been co-resident on the same campus in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, since 1931. Andover Newton took the earlier founding date (1807) of the Andover Theological Seminary for its founding year.

The school created the educational model used by almost all Protestant seminaries today and pioneered many training programs for prospective clergy, including field education. Its alumni and alumnae included important abolitionists, educators, clergy, and theologians; three presidents of Brown University; the founding presidents of Wabash College, Grinnell College, and the Union Theological Seminary in New York City; and one of the most important presidents of Dartmouth College.


Andover Theological Seminary was founded in 1807 by orthodox Calvinists who were members of Congregational churches (forebears of the United Church of Christ) who fled Harvard College after it appointed Unitarian theologian Henry Ware to the Hollis Professorship of Divinity in 1805. One of the founders of the school, and of the Massachusetts Missionary Society, was Rev. Samuel Spring. Widely reported in the national press, the founding by the Calvinists was one of the significant events that contributed to the split in the New England Congregationalist tradition, and to the eventual founding of the American Unitarian Association in 1825.[4]

The new school built a suite of Federal-style buildings at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts,[5] which the school occupied for its first century. (Most of the original seminary campus survives today as part of the historic core of the Phillips Academy campus.[6])

Before Andover was founded, American Protestant clergymen attended undergraduate college, then learned their profession by studying under a minister. The new seminary was the first to formalize graduate study for clergymen with a resident student body and resident faculty. The program was for three years of study in four subjects: the Bible, church history, doctrinal theology and the practical arts of ministry.[7]

Andover Theological Seminary, Cambridge, Massachusetts

In 1908, Harvard Divinity School and Andover attempted to reconcile (both institutions were strongly theologically liberal by this point), and for a period of 18 years shared Harvard's Cambridge campus. The seminary moved its faculty and library to Cambridge, built a large academic-Gothic style facility there, and began to develop plans for a more formal merger with Harvard. However, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts disallowed the alliance. Although the court decision was later reversed, Andover eventually relocated to the Newton Centre campus of the Newton Theological Institution in 1931.

Campus view

The original Andover Seminary library remained on the Harvard campus, where, merged with the library collections of the Harvard Divinity School, it is now known as Andover-Harvard Theological Library.[8] Andover Newton retained ownership of the books.

Harvard later purchased the school's Cambridge real estate, which, known as Andover Hall,[9] now houses most of the Harvard Divinity School. Although the planned merger with Harvard was never completed, the two schools remained loosely affiliated. Andover Newton students and faculty had access to the Harvard College Library system and Andover Newton students were able to register for classes at any of the university's schools.


Newton Theological Institution began instruction in 1825 on an 80-acre (32.4 ha) former estate[10][11] at Newton Centre in Newton, Massachusetts, as a graduate seminary formally affiliated with the Northern Baptist Convention, now known as the American Baptist Churches USA. Its founders were Joseph Grafton, Lucius Bolles, Daniel Sharp, Jonathan Going, Bela Jacobs, Ebenezer Nelson, Francis Wayland, Henry Jackson, Ensign Lincoln, Jonathan Bacheller, and Nathaniel R. Cobb.[12]

An important early benefactor and long-time treasurer of Newton Theological Institution was Gardner Colby, Boston industrialist and resident of Newton Centre near the campus. Colby Hall (designed by architect Alexander Rice Esty) and Colby Chapel on the Andover Newton campus were named in his honor. Colby also contributed to a number of other New England Baptist institutions, including Brown University and Colby College in Waterville, Maine,[13] which was also named in his honor.

Wilson Chapel interior

From 1931 on, the facilities of the Newton Centre campus expanded many times, especially during a boom in enrollment during the 1950s and '60s. The last addition was Wilson Chapel, a modern interpretation of the traditional New England meetinghouse, constructed to mark the school's bicentennial in 2007.[14]

Andover Newton[edit]

Andover and Newton formally merged in 1965, creating Andover Newton Theological School. Another important 21st-century construction on "the Hill" in Newton Centre was the contemporary campus of Hebrew College, designed by the architect Moshe Safdie. The two schools collaborated on a number of interfaith programs and their students were able to cross-register for classes.[citation needed]

In 2010, Andover Newton and Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Chicago-based seminary affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, announced plans to create a "new university-style institution" at the Newton Centre campus, with an interfaith model for theological education. Meadville was to sell its campus in Chicago and become the "Unitarian" division of the new institution, with Andover Newton becoming the "Christian" component.[15] The two institutions withdrew from the plan in April 2011, citing issues related to governance and finances.[16]

Andover Newton at Yale[edit]

In May 2016, ANTS president Martin Copenhaver announced that Andover Newton would begin a process of formal affiliation with Yale Divinity School over a two-year period. In the 2016–17 academic year, a cohort of faculty relocated to New Haven, Connecticut, teaching students and launching pilot initiatives focused on congregational ministry education, while Andover Newton continued to operate in Massachusetts. Copenhaver projected that a sale of the Newton campus would pay off debt and create an endowment for the institution at Yale.

On June 29, 2017, the sale of the Andover Newton campus was finalized, and on July 20, 2017, the boards of Andover Newton and Yale Divinity School signed an agreement to formalize their affiliation beginning in the 2017–18 academic year. Under the agreement, Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School was established as a unit within Yale Divinity School, similar to Yale's arrangement with the Episcopal seminary Berkeley Divinity School.[17][18][19][20][21]

Andover Newton students at YDS earn a diploma from Andover Newton in addition to their Yale degrees, and receive scholarship support from the Andover Newton Seminary Program. Andover Newton also funds some faculty positions at YDS.[22]

Academics and student life[edit]

Andover Newton was first accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 1978,[23] and granted master's degrees as well as a doctor of ministry. Andover Newton students were also allowed to take classes in any of Harvard University's ten graduate schools due to the prior affiliation of Andover Theological Seminary and the Harvard Divinity School, which combined their libraries in 1911 to form the Andover-Harvard Theological Library on the Harvard campus.[24] While there were 350 students enrolled in 2007,[25] who represented 35 Christian denominations, a decade later, it had dropped to 225, mostly part-time students, down from 450 full-time enrollees a generation earlier.[2] United Church of Christ students remained the largest segment of the student body, followed by Unitarian Universalists and Baptists.[26]

Academic awards[edit]

The ‘Spirit of the Hill’ award, announced at the annual Fall Convocation, is conferred upon one alumnus/a who has exhibited exemplary skills in ministry.[27] Additionally, the Seminary awards several prizes to its students in recognition of outstanding achievements. A prize for Excellence in Writing is awarded annually by the faculty, named after American theologian and writer, Frederick Buechner.[28]

Notable persons[edit]

Andover Theological Seminary and Newton Theological Institution has held graduations for many notable graduates. Collectively, many of these graduates had big influence to America.

Prior to the American Civil War, when there were few fully developed graduate programs in the United States, the two schools trained some of the nation's most important scholars, linguists, social activists, educational innovators, and college presidents as well as many of its leading Protestant clergy.

Below are the graduates of the school:

Notable faculty[edit]


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "List". UCC Open and Affirming Coalition. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  2. ^ a b MacDonald, G. Jeffrey (November 13, 2015). "Oldest US graduate seminary to close campus". Religion
  3. ^ "YDS and Andover Newton sign historic agreement". Yale Divinity School. July 20, 2017.
  4. ^ For details on the founding and subsequent Andover Newton history, see Bendroth, Margaret Lamberts, A School of the Church: Andover Newton across Two Centuries, Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2009.
  5. ^ Today's Ministry: Commemorative Bicentennial Issue, Newton Centre, MA, 2007, p. 3
  6. ^ The surviving buildings are now named Pearson Hall, Morse Hall, and Samuel Phillips Hall. Historical markers explain their original role in the seminary. (see campus map at Archived June 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine)
  7. ^ Bendroth, Margaret Lamberts, A School of the Church: Andover Newton across Two Centuries, Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2009, pp. 1–24.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 7, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Building Andover Hall", online exhibit "Harvard Divinity School at the Turn of the 20th Century", Andover-Harvard Theological Library
  10. ^ Today's Ministry: Commemorative Bicentennial Issue, Newton Centre, MA, 2007, pp. 14–15.
  11. ^ Hovey, Alvah, Historical Address Delivered at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Newton Theological Institution, June 8, 1875 (Boston, 1875), p. 5.
  12. ^ Hovey, Alvah, Historical Address Delivered at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Newton Theological Institution, June 8, 1875 (Boston, 1875), p. 6.
  13. ^ "Colby College". Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  14. ^ Burrows, Mark S. "Wilson Chapel: A New Meetinghouse for a School 'Set on a Hill'", Faith & Form: The Interfaith Journal on Religion, Art, and Architecture, Vol. XLI, No. 2, 2008.
  15. ^ Lisa Wangsness (June 24, 2010). "Theological schools' partnership could reshape training". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  16. ^ "Mass. theology school for religions not to open". Boston Herald. Associated Press. April 21, 2011.
  17. ^ "Andover Newton, Yale Enter Partnership | Andover Newton Theological School". Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  18. ^ "YDS, Andover Newton Announce Step Toward Phased Affiliation". Yale Divinity School. May 2, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  19. ^ G. Jeffrey MacDonald (May 5, 2016). "Andover Newton to partner with Yale, shutter Mass. campus". Religion News Service. Retrieved June 1, 2016 – via
  20. ^ Rick Stelzer (July 21, 2017). "Andover Newton Finalizes Plan to Move to Yale". Inside Higher Ed.
  21. ^ John Hilliard (June 30, 2017). "Foundation tied to billionaire Gerald Chan buys Newton seminary campus". The Boston Globe.
  22. ^ "Welcome | Andover Newton Seminary". Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  23. ^ "Roster of Institutions: Massachusetts". Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Archived from the original on August 28, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2009.
  24. ^ "Mission and History: History". Harvard Divinity School Andover-Harvard Theological Library.
  25. ^ "College Navigator". U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  26. ^ Andover Newton Theological School Catalogue, 2009–2011, Newton Centre, MA, 2009
  27. ^ "Spirit of the Hill Award". Andover Newton Seminary. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  28. ^ Jackson, Patrick (July 23, 2015). "Arlington Resident Honored at Andover Newton Commencement". Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  29. ^ Perne, Bertie Reginald, Judson of Burma, London: Edinburgh House Press, 1962.
  30. ^ Gallaudet, Edward Minor Life of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, New York: Henry Holt, 1888
  31. ^ "The History of Gallaudet University". Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved September 28, 2009.
  32. ^ Punahou School, Ceremonies in memory of the pioneer missionary Rev. Hiram Bingham held at Oahu college Punahou, Honolulu, April 19, 1905. Honolulu: Hawaiian Gazette Co., 1905.
  33. ^ Mitchell, Martha Encyclopedia Brunoniana
  34. ^ Osborne, James Insley; Theodore Gregory Gronert (1932). Wabash College: The First Hundred Years, 1832–1932. Crawfordsville, Indiana: R. E. Banta. p. 31.
  35. ^ "Past Presidents". Grinnell College. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  36. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  37. ^ See obituary notice in the San Antonio Express-News, March 14, 2009.
  38. ^ "Mark Twain Project". Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  39. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Lucius Walker, Baptist Pastor for Peace, Dies at 80". The New York Times, September 11, 2010. Accessed September 12, 2010.
  40. ^ "Rev. Dr. Arthur Luther Whitaker". Wicked Local Randolph. Archived from the original on August 20, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  41. ^ Oregon Guardsman, The New Chief, November 15, 1929, page 1
  42. ^ "Office of the President - The Wheelock Succession of Dartmouth Presidents". Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  43. ^ Obituary notice in the New York City American, September 20, 1926.
  44. ^ "The Tucker Center". Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  45. ^ "Carole Fontaine - Andover Newton Theological School". Archived from the original on January 24, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.

External links[edit]