Andover Newton Theological School

Andover Newton Theological School

Seal of Andover Newton Theological School
Former names
Andover Theological Seminary (1807–1965), Newton Theological Institution (1825–1965)
Type Private
Established 1807
Affiliation United Church of Christ, American Baptist, Unitarian Universalist Association
President Martin B. Copenhaver
Academic staff
Students 219
Location Newton, Massachusetts, USA
42°19′35″N 71°11′28″W / 42.326411°N 71.191063°W / 42.326411; -71.191063Coordinates: 42°19′35″N 71°11′28″W / 42.326411°N 71.191063°W / 42.326411; -71.191063
Campus Suburban
Affiliations BTI, NEASC

Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS) is an American graduate school and seminary located in Newton, Massachusetts. It is oldest graduate seminary in the United States and the nation's first graduate institution of any kind. Affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ, it is also a member of the Boston Theological Institute and is an official open and affirming seminary.[1]

In November 2015, the school announced that it would sell its campus and relocate, after a presence of 190 years on that site.<ref name=RN /[2]


Andover Newton is a product of a 1965 merger between two schools of theology: Andover Theological Seminary and Newton Theological Institution—although the two institutions had been co-resident on the same campus in Newton Center, Massachusetts since 1931. Andover Newton takes 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 faculty have always ranked among the most distinguished in theological education, and its alumni and alumnae have 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; one of the most important presidents of Dartmouth College; and major figures in many areas of American life and culture.


Andover Theological Seminary was founded in 1807 by orthodox Calvinists who fled Harvard College after it appointed liberal 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 Congregationalist denominations, and to the eventual founding of the American Unitarian Association in 1825. The Unitarians in 1961 joined the Universalists to become the Unitarian Universalist Association.[3]

The new school built a suite of Federal-style buildings at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts,[4] 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.[5])

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.[6]

In 1908, Harvard Divinity School and Andover attempted to reconcile, and for a period of 18 years shared Harvard's Cambridge, Massachusetts 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.[7]

Harvard later purchased the school's Cambridge real estate, which, known as Andover Hall,[8] 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 have access to the Harvard College Library system and Andover Newton students can 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[9][10] at Newton Centre in Newton, Massachusetts, as a graduate seminary formally affiliated with 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.[11]

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 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,[12] which was also named in his honor.

Wilson Chapel interior

Since 1931, the facilities of the Newton Centre campus have expanded many times, especially during a boom in enrollment during the 1950s and '60s. The latest addition is Wilson Chapel, a modern interpretation of the traditional New England meetinghouse, constructed to mark the school's bicentenary in 2007.[13]

Andover Newton

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 distinguished architect Moshe Safdie. The two schools collaborate on a number of interfaith programs and their students can cross register for classes.

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 would sell its campus in Chicago and become the "Unitarian" division of the new institution, with Andover Newton becoming the "Christian" component.[14] The two institutions withdrew from the plan in April 2011, citing issues related to governance and finances.[15]

Andover Newton at Yale

In May 2016, ANTS president Martin Copenhaver announced that Andover Newton would begin a process of formal affiliation with Yale Divinity School over the next two years. In the 2016–17 academic year, a cohort of faculty will relocate to New Haven, Connecticut, teaching students and launching pilot initiatives focused on congregational ministry education, while Andover Newton will continue to operate in Massachusetts over the next two years, in Newton Centre. If ongoing negotiations remain successful, there will be a permanent affiliation (beginning in the 2017–18 academic year), resulting in smaller Andover Newton functioning as a unit within Yale Divinity School, similar to the current arrangement with the Episcopal seminary, Berkeley Divinity School. Copenhaver projected that a sale of the Newton campus would pay off debt and create an endowment for the institution at Yale.[16][17][18]

Academics and student life

Andover Newton was first accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 1978,[19] and grants master's degrees as well as a doctor of ministry. Andover Newton students are 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.[20] While there were 350 students enrolled in 2007,[21] 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.[22] United Church of Christ students remain the largest segment of the student body, followed by Unitarian Universalists and Baptists.[23]

The residential hill-top campus just outside the village of Newton Centre resembles that of a classic New England college, with red brick dormitories, a dining hall, and academic buildings around a tree-lined quadrangle. Wilson Chapel, in gray stone, forms a central focus of both the space and of campus activities. There are fine views of the Boston skyline and Great Blue Hill in the distance. The self-contained campus, with easy access to Boston, is the epicenter of student life. The Massachusetts Bible Society and the Boston Theological Institute (BTI) also have offices here, as do parts of Hebrew College.

Notable persons

There have been many notable graduates of Andover Theological Seminary and Newton Theological Institution, as well as Andover Newton Theological School. Collectively, they have had a wide and profound influence on American life and values, extending well beyond church ministry and missionary work into higher education, the creation of the American public school and public library systems, pioneering work with disabled and disadvantaged groups, the abolition of slavery and promotion of the modern civil rights movement, even the creation of the "national hymn," "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.

Notable faculty



Notes and references

  1. "ONA Churches and Settings," The United Church of Christ (UCC) Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Concerns Website, Retrieved February 14, 2011
  2. MacDonald, G. Jeffrey (November 13, 2015). "Oldest US graduate seminary to close campus". Religion
  3. 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.
  4. Today's Ministry: Commemorative Bicentennial Issue, Newton Centre, MA, 2007, p. 3
  5. 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
  6. Bendroth, Margaret Lamberts, A School of the Church: Andover Newton across Two Centuries, Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2009, pp. 1–24.
  7. See website at
  8. "Building Andover Hall", online exhibit "Harvard Divinity School at the Turn of the 20th Century", Andover-Harvard Theological Library
  9. Today's Ministry: Commemorative Bicentennial Issue, Newton Centre, MA, 2007, pp. 14-15.
  10. Hovey, Alvah, Historical Address Delivered at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Newton Theological Institution, June 8, 1875 (Boston, 1875), p. 5.
  11. Hovey, Alvah, Historical Address Delivered at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Newton Theological Institution, June 8, 1875 (Boston, 1875), p. 6.
  12. See the Colby College website at
  13. 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.
  14. Lisa Wangsness (2010-06-24). "Theological schools' partnership could reshape training". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  15. "Mass. theology school for religions not to open". Associated Press (via Boston Herald). April 21, 2011.
  16. "Andover Newton, Yale Enter Partnership | Andover Newton Theological School". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  17. "YDS, Andover Newton Announce Step Toward Phased Affilitation". Yale Divinity School. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  18. G. Jeffrey MacDonald (May 5, 2016). "Andover Newton to partner with Yale, shutter Mass. campus". Religion News Service (via Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  19. "Roster of Institutions: Massachusetts". Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  20. "Mission and History: History". Harvard Divinity School Andover-Harvard Theological Library.
  21. "College Navigator". U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 2009-04-20.
  22. Andover Newton Theological School Catalogue, 2009–2011, Newton Centre, MA, 2009
  23. Perne, Bertie Reginald, Judson of Burma, London: Edinburgh House Press, 1962.
  24. Gallaudet, Edward Minor Life of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, New York: Henry Holt, 1888
  26. 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.
  27. Mitchell, Martha Encyclopedia Brunoniana,
  28. Osborne, James Insley; Theodore Gregory Gronert (1932). Wabash College: The First Hundred Years, 1832–1932. Crawfordsville, Indiana: R. E. Banta. p. 31.
  29. "Past Presidents". Grinnell College. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  30. Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  31. See obituary notice in the San Antonio Express-News, March 14, 2009.
  32. Martin, Douglas. "Lucius Walker, Baptist Pastor for Peace, Dies at 80", The New York Times, September 11, 2010. Accessed September 12, 2010.
  33. Oregon Guardsman, The New Chief, November 15, 1929, page 1
  34. "William Jewett Tucker" in "The Wheelock Succession,"
  35. Obituary notice in the New York City American, September 20, 1926.
  36. See the William Jewett Tucker Foundation website at
  37. Obituary notice in The New York Times, September 30, 1990.

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