|History | Seabury-Western Theological Seminary|
|Bishop Charles Palmerston Anderson: A History|
The roots of Seabury-Western are in Illinois and Minnesota, in the Episcopal Church's nineteenth century missionary outreach to western America. Seabury-Western Theological Seminary was created in 1933 by the merger of Seabury Divinity School (1858, Faribault, Minnesota) and Western Theological Seminary (1883, Chicago, Illinois).
In 1858, James Lloyd Breck founded Bishop Seabury University in Faribault, Minnesota, to provide education from primary school through theological studies for both Native Americans and Euro-American settlers. He envisioned his “School of the Prophets” as the center of evangelism for the about-to-be organized Diocese of Minnesota. The Seabury Divinity School, which emerged, continued its missionary consciousness and, in the twentieth century, developed a distinctly evangelical character.
In 1883, under the leadership of Chicago's Bishop William E. McLaren, the Western Theological Seminary was chartered and built in Chicago. Its first class was held in 1885. Western's mission was to educate "fit persons in the Catholic Faith in its purity and integrity, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, held by the Primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General Councils."
Western moved from Chicago to Evanston in 1929, at the invitation of Northwestern University and the Garrett Biblical Institute. Subsequently, complementary concerns and common interests led the boards of Seabury and Western to combine their resources, and the merged Seabury-Western Theological Seminary opened its doors in Evanston on October 10, 1933. The characteristics - evangelical and catholic - that Seabury and Western, respectively, brought to the new Seminary reflect the strengths of the present Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, with its fundamental concern for learning in the service of mission. In 1994 the Seabury Institute was founded as a ministry of the Seminary to create a partnership with parishes that are exercising leadership for mission in the Church today and into the future.
In 2009, Seabury made the decision to sell its property to Northwestern University. The transaction, completed in July 2009, allowed Seabury to eliminate its debt, balance its budget, and position itself to realize its new mission: Seabury embodies generous Christianity, grounded in the Baptismal Covenant and the Episcopal tradition, as we educate lay and ordained women and men for ministry, build faith communities, and enrich people in their faith.
Seabury's 2010 accreditation report summarized its new mission and vision:
Saying Seabury is grounded in the Baptismal Covenant affirms our identity as members of the Body of Christ, all of whom are called to follow Christ and to proclaim the Good News of Christ in word and deed, not only in the church but in the world. We understand the church to be an embodiment of the mission of God, a mission of reconciliation of all and the fulfillment of God’s intentions for all that is. Thus, we educate and train persons, lay and ordained, to be leaders in a church oriented toward mission. This understanding of mission, church, and leadership has become foundational to Seabury’s identity. At the same time, it is part of the long legacy of Seabury Divinity School, founded in part to prepare people for mission to and with the Native Americans of the Upper Midwest.
In saying Seabury embodies generous Christianity, we are affirming that our Christian faith calls us to be open and receptive to all persons, with no exceptions.
Today, Seabury is home to courses and degree programs for clergy, laypeople and people interested in exploring faith issues:
- We offer a Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development in collaboration with Church Divinity School of the Pacific, built on Seabury’s great strength in this area and expanding to incorporate new innovative courses and programs. We also offer a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching in collaboration with six other seminaries in the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. Persons may also earn a Diploma and Certificate in Congregational Development.
- We offer a Diploma and Certificate in Anglican Studies which provides the equivalent of a full year of study in ministry in the Anglican tradition. Courses are online with intensive short stays on the Seabury campus.
- We also offer non-degree courses and programs for lay leaders and clergy and special continuing education events.
Bishop Charles Palmerston Anderson: A History
Bishop Charles Palmerston Anderson, whose body was disinterred April 30, 2010 from the chapel at Seabury-Western Seminary that bears his name, was among the most influential figures in the seminary’s history. He revived Western Seminary in 1905 after it had been closed for a year, helped steer Seabury-Western to its current site, and one of the seminary’s largest scholarship funds was established in his honor.
“In his 25 years as Bishop of Chicago, and his all-too-brief tenure as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Charles Anderson demonstrated a passion for the Gospel and a deep love for Seabury-Western,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeff Lee, Bishop of Chicago. “He guided this seminary through some difficult times without ever losing faith in its future, and his example inspires those of us who follow in his footsteps.”
Bishop Anderson and his wife Janet are being relocated to their family’s compound in Northern Wisconsin, at the request of Northwestern University, which purchased the seminary complex from Seabury-Western in July 2009, and now rents a portion of it back to the seminary.
The Andersons, their children and grandchildren have also played an important role in Seabury Western’s history, donating more than $300,000 to the seminary. Their largest contributions created the $250,000 Bishop Charles Palmerston Anderson Scholarship Fund.
“Scores of Seabury students have benefitted from the generosity of Charles and Janet Anderson and their family, and scores of others will,” said Robert Bottoms, the seminary’s interim dean and president. “We are profoundly grateful for all they have done, and continue to do.”
Bishop Anderson, a native of Ontario, became rector of Grace Church in Oak Park, Ill., in 1891. He was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Chicago in 1900, and became the diocesan bishop five years later. Youthful and energetic, he was such a popular figure that the consecration had to be moved from the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul to Anderson’s former church in Oak Park, which was larger.
During his episcopacy the diocese grew and agencies such as the Cathedral Shelter, Chase House, Lawrence Hall, and Youth Guidance were founded. On the anniversary of his consecration, the Rev. Charles L. Street, said in a sermon, “To him the love of God meant the doing away with poverty and ugliness and social injustice and reconciling warring industrial groups and national groups.”
Bishop Anderson was elected Presiding Bishop in October, 1929, but held that office for only three months before dying of coronary thrombosis on January 30, 1930. According to his wishes, his remains were buried in the Seabury chapel, which had just been completed, and his wife Janet was buried there in 1948.
“Most of Seabury’s living alumni spent three years praying three times a day in the chapel where Bishop Anderson and his wife Janet were buried,” said the Rev. Elizabeth Butler, a Seabury graduate who is now the seminary’s vice president. “He was a significant spiritual presence in our lives, and I would like to think that he would be pleased with the work we are doing to keep Seabury at the forefront of theological education.”
See photos of Bishop Anderson here. On May 18, 2010, Seabury held a Holy Eucharist to celebrate the ministries of BIshop and Mrs. Anderson and to commemorate the time that their remains rested at Seabury. See photos from that service here, and download the program here.