Reformed Episcopal Seminary

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Reformed Episcopal Seminary
The Theological Seminary of
the Reformed Episcopal Church
RES LOGO-1.jpg
MottoWe are ambitious to be well-pleasing unto Him
Type·Theological seminary
ChancellorDavid L. Hicks
DeanJonathan S. Riches
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States
ColorsGrey, blue
Affiliations·Theological Commission of the Reformed Episcopal Church
·Association of Theological Schools
·Anglican Church in North America
Former West Philadelphia Campus

The Reformed Episcopal Seminary is a theological seminary located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1887 as the first seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church.


The main seminary building which houses the chapel, the library, professors' officers, and classrooms.
The Professional Building contains the bookstore, classrooms, and student lounge and study areas.

The Reformed Episcopal Seminary was founded in 1887 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the "Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church", its chartered and legal name. The seminary was established based on the pledge of a trust created by Harriet Benson in March, 1886.[1] The corner stone for the first building to house the seminary was laid on September 19 of that same year.[1] The seminary began meeting for classes in 1886 under the tutelage of Bishop William Nicholson in his residence. It officially opened the doors to its first class of students on September 30, 1887, in its new building in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church, after the trust was received on March 16, 1887.[2]

The Reformed Episcopal Seminary upholds the doctrinal statement adopted by the Reformed Episcopal Church.  Two documents comprise the doctrinal statement: the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the Declaration of Principles.[3] The term "Reformed" has various meanings within larger Christian community. For example, Presbyterians have expressed the reformed faith in the Westminster Confession of Faith, while Reformed Baptists have commonly expressed the reformed faith in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. The Reformed Episcopal Church was founded on the Thirty-Nine Articles as they express a summary of the necessary doctrines that brought about reformation in the Church of England. While later statements of faith have expanded and added to the doctrines expressed in the Articles, the Thirty-Nine Articles represent the necessary doctrine that defines the Protestant position against the Roman Catholic position of that period, and in unity with the reformations taking place elsewhere in Europe.

"Once in the early days our Church was referred to as the "Primitive Episcopal Church," and the name seems to fit its mission. The word "Primitive" shows that it is a restoration, going back not only to the days of our country's early history, but back to the Reformation, when the fires of martyrdom and the horrors of torture could not drive away from the truth those who held it in their keeping; back still farther to the days of the apostles; aye back farther yet, to the teaching of Him who, beside the blue waters of Galilee, called followers into His service, that He might make them "fishers of men."[4]

As The Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church we continue to teach those doctrines that maintain us "One in heart, in spirit, and in faith with our fathers, ... we claim an unbroken historical connection through the Church of England with the Church of Christ, from the earliest Christian era."[5]

Commitment to the Holy Scriptures[edit]

The Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church maintains that the Holy Scriptures are the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. Its commitment to this doctrine of the Word of God is demonstrated by the testimony of its students as "Each one remembers the question put to him at the beginning of his seminary training when interviewed by the Faculty: "Are you willing to test every question by the teaching of Scripture?"[6] The acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God and the acknowledgement of its contribution to the Christian faith is not unique among seminaries. However, by asking this question to all incoming students, Reformed Episcopal Seminary maintains that all teaching must be measured against the standard of the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. This position distinguishes it from many theological institutions today.

Academic programs[edit]

The seminary educates and trains Christians for lay and ordained ministries and is distinguished by a strong commitment to belief in the inerrancy of the Bible as the word of God, adherence to reformed theology and evangelical beliefs, worship and polity in the Anglican tradition, and an emphasis on pastoral ministry training.[7] The seminary offers a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program, a diploma program, two certificate programs, as well as a licentiate for diaconal minister program or deaconess ministry. It is on the quarter system and is academically rigorous, requiring the completion of 150 credits for the master's degree.[7]

In 2015 the school initiated an Honors Thesis program for select MDiv students. High achieving students are invited by the faculty to write a Thesis in their senior year which they are required to defend before a panel of faculty members.


The charter of the seminary states that it was formed “for the purpose of educating and training men for the ministry of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ especially in connection with the Reformed Episcopal Church and in accordance with the Constitution, Canons, rules, regulations, principles, Doctrine, and worship of said Church.” Its mission statement declares that it seeks "to train Christ’s people to serve the flock of the Lord Jesus Christ through biblical, Anglican Worship, Example, and Discipleship as defined in the official standards of the Reformed Episcopal Church... and to immerse students in Scripture, the historical and ancient traditions of the church, worship, and doctrine." The seminary emphasizes what they describe as "classical Anglicanism lived out in the world through worship, evangelism, and discipleship."[8]

The seminary further describes itself as Evangelical, Catholic, Reformed, Ecumenical and Episcopal, defining the terms this way:

  • Evangelical - proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord;
  • Catholic - affirming the faith of the apostles as expressed through the early creeds and liturgy;
  • Reformed - holding the English Reformation doctrines of the primacy of Scripture and justification by grace through faith;
  • Ecumenical - welcoming students from a variety of church groups and backgrounds;
  • Episcopal - holding to the worship, doctrine, and order of the English Reformation.[9]


The seminary's first location was at the corner of 43rd and Chestnut streets in West Philadelphia alongside the magnificent Christ Memorial Church (pictured at right.) Currently the seminary is in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. It consists of three buildings, including one dorm house for students. Also resident on campus are the offices of the Reformed Episcopal diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and it's Committee on Young People's Work.

Student body[edit]

As of 2018, the Seminary has 21 students enrolled in their ministerial degree program.[10]

The student body of the seminary is racially diverse and ecumenical. Students come from a variety of traditions, including: African Methodist Episcopal, Anglican, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Church of God, Congregational, Lutheran, and Presbyterian. While celebrating diversity and teaching students in regard to a variety of perspectives, the institution's principal purpose is to prepare leaders, clergy, counselors, educators, missionaries, and laity for service within the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America. The curriculum therefore, is formed to assist students in their desired ministerial and scholastic goals and to be grounded in Anglican polity and worship.

The seminary trains clergy candidates for the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in North America, as well as other churches traditions. Currently the majority of the Seminary's clergy candidates are Anglican. Clergy are educated in the Bible as the ultimate rule in faith and practice and about the historic faith as handed down in the creeds and historic confessions such as the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.


The seminary was granted initial accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, effective August 8, 2013.[10] The Theological Commission of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America have also both approved the Reformed Episcopal Seminary.


Until 1982, the chief institutional officer of the seminary was the dean. As the seminary was originally the seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church and is now a ministry of the REC Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (formerly the New York and Philadelphia Synods), several of the presidents and deans have been the diocesan bishop.[11]

Dean Years President Years
The Rt. Rev. William Nicholson 1886-1901
J. Howard-Smith 1901-1903
Joseph Dawson Wilson ( Chairman of the Faculty) 1903-1924
The Rt. Rev. Robert L. Rudolph 1924-1930
The Rt. Rev. Robert Westly Peach 1930-1936
George Handy Wailes 1936-1959
Fred C. Kuehner 1959-1975 The Rt. Rev. Leonard W. Riches, Sr. 1982-1990
Milton C. Fisher (also President until 1982) 1975-1987 David E. Schroeder 1990-1991
Allen C. Guelzo 1987-1991 Ray R. Sutton (later bishop) 1991-1995
David P. Kletzing 1991-1996 The Most Rev. Leonard W. Riches, Sr. 1995-1998
Jon W. Abboud 1997-2012 Wayne A. Headman 1998-2009
Jonathan S. Riches 2012-Present The Rt. Rev. David L. Hicks 2009-Present

Notable alumni[edit]

J. A. D. Bloice – 1895, hymnist and leader in the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Frank V. C. Cloak – 1898, Presiding Bishop, Reformed Episcopal Church

William Culbertson III – 1927 Bachelor of Divinity, bishop, Reformed Episcopal Church; dean, president, and chancellor of Moody Bible Institute 1942-1971

Harold D. Burkholder – 1945 Master of Divinity, founder and president of Grace University, Omaha NE[12]

Milton C. Fisher – 1948 Bachelor of Divinity, dean, president, and Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Episcopal Seminary, NIV Bible Translation Committee member[13]

Daniel G. Cox – 1952 Bachelor of Divinity, bishop, Reformed Episcopal Church

James E. Adams – 1952 Bachelor of Divinity, pastor and author of War Psalms of the Prince of Peace, Let Me Sow Love: Living the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, and Decisional Regeneration Vs. Divine Regeneration

Roy A. Clouser – 1962 Bachelor of Divinity, author and professor emeritus at The College of New Jersey[14]

Samuel Baraga – 1974 Master of Divinity, director, Bharat Bible College, Dabilpur India[15]

Raymond Charles Gillin – 1984 Master of Divinity, bishop, Reformed Episcopal Church

Sung Cho – 1984 Master of Divinity, Professor of Old Testament, Chong Shin University, Los Angeles CA[16]

George B. Fincke – 1985 Master of Divinity, bishop, Reformed Episcopal Church

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Acker, Raymond A. A History of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary: 1886-1964, p. 12
  2. ^ Guelzo, Allen C. For the Union of Evangelical Christendom. p. 284
  3. ^ "Reformed Episcopal Seminary: Our Faith".
  4. ^ Price, Annie Darling (1902). History of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Philadelphia, PA: James M. Armstrong. pp. 208–209.
  5. ^ Cummins, "Address," in Journal of the First General Council, p. 9. The quote was taken from Guelzo, Allen C. For the Union of Evangelical Christendom. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1994. p.159.
  6. ^ Acker, Raymond A. A History of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary: 1886-1964. Philadelphia, PA: Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church, 1965. p. 67.
  7. ^ a b "Anglican Education : Reformed Episcopal Seminary". Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  8. ^ "Student Handbook" (PDF). Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Reformed Episcopal Seminary: Heritage and Purpose". Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  10. ^ a b "member schools: Reformed Episcopal Seminary". Association of Theological Schools. Retrieved 19 Dec 2013.
  11. ^ "Seminary Archives".
  12. ^ "Rev Harold Delbert Burkholder (1913-2000) - Find A..." Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  13. ^ Writer, Staff. "The Rev. Dr. Milton C. Fisher". LancasterOnline. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  14. ^ "Roy A. Clouser | Philosophy, Religion, and Classical Studies". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  15. ^ Giri. "BHARAT BIBLE COLLEGE". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  16. ^ "Factulty". Retrieved 2018-05-22.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°10′07″N 75°17′25″W / 40.168689°N 75.290164°W / 40.168689; -75.290164