History made.

History Starts Here.

1839

Newbury Biblical Institute

Newbury, Vermont

While other seminaries were training ministers in traditional academics, the country’s first Methodist seminary is formed, dedicated to education of both women and men and the progressive principles of the era. The school would ultimately become BU School of Theology.

1869

Boston University's

Founding School

Now relocated, STH becomes the first professional school of Boston University, and even admits its first international student this year. BU would grow into the fourth-largest private research university in the country, emphasizing interdisciplinary research across 17 schools and colleges.

1876

Anna Howard Shaw

Second Woman Graduate

Rev. Dr. Shaw begins her studies as the only woman in a class of 43. She later becomes the first woman ordained in the Methodist Protestant Church. A full century would pass before other seminaries would admit women.

1877

Helen Magill White

First Woman PhD

Earning a doctorate in Greek, Ms. White becomes the first woman to receive a PhD in the United States.

1887

John Wesley Edward Bowen

First Black American PhD

Born into American slavery, John Wesley Edward Bowen was the first Black American to receive a PhD. At the School of Theology, he received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1885, and went on to graduate with a PhD in historical theology in 1887.

1902

Edgar Helms &

the School of Prophets

Alumnus and faculty member Helms founds Goodwill Industries. He joins other early STH graduates in shaping late 19th- and early 20th-century forms of urban outreach—such as the Salvation Army and Boston’s Deaconess Hospital—and earning STH the nickname “School of Prophets.”

1908

Borden Parker Bowne &

Boston Personalism

Bowne is recognized as the father of Boston Personalism, a philosophy that flourishes at STH, which emphasizes the dignity of every individual. Its celebration of diversity attracts prominent civil rights advocates to the School.

1922

Rev. Handel Lee

In the 1920s, STH experiences an influx of international students from the Asian continent. The first Chinese President of Nanjing Theological Seminary in China, Rev. Handel Lee, receives a bachelor's degree from STH in 1922. In 1923, Rev. Helen Kim of Korea earns a master’s degree from STH. She will become the first Korean president of the world’s largest women’s university and the world president of the YMCA.

1943

George L. Fox

US Army Chaplain

A graduate of STH, George Lansing Fox was one of four US Army Chaplains aboard the SS Dorchester, bound for the United Kingdom when it departed Massachusetts in January 1943. He and his fellow chaplains went down with the submarine after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat, having given away their life vests to their fellow American soldiers.

1945

Walter G. Muelder

Social Ethicist

Muelder earned his PhD at STH in 1933 and went on to become dean of the School in 1945. A known pacifist and socialist, his pioneering work in Christian social ethics and development of Boston Personalism was credited by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a student of his at STH, as an important influence in King's own journey to nonviolence.

1950

Dedication of Theology Building

Charles River Campus

After the construction of the new Charles River Campus quadrangle in the late 1940s, the gothic revival architecture buildings on the center of BU's new campus began hosting classes. In 1950, the School of Theology building was dedicated at 745 Commonwealth Avenue, and it has been the home to Theology at BU ever since.

1953

Howard Thurman

Dean of Marsh Chapel

Thurman is named Dean of Marsh Chapel, becoming the first black Dean of Chapel at a majority-white college or university in the United States.

1955

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Earns Doctorate

His research influenced by Boston Personalism, King earns his doctorate at STH in Systematic Theology.

1968

Boston Theological

Institute

Nine theological schools in the Boston area form the most diverse and robust theological consortium in the world, agreeing to cross-register students, collaborate on programming, and share library resources. The Institute lives on today as the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium.

1970

The Institute for

Philosophy & Religion

Formed at BU as a unique, interdisciplinary forum dedicated to studying issues at the intersection of philosophy, religion, and public life.

1978

Anna Howard Shaw

Center

Named for alumna Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, the Center is established to empower women and honor sexual and gender diversity in religious life and ministry. In 1988, the Center becomes the women’s center for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

1996

Greater Boston

Interfaith Organization

Boston area clergy and community organizers—including several STH alumni—create GBIO, which becomes a powerful force for positive social change in the region, working across religious, racial, ethnic, class, and neighborhood lines.

1998

Center for Practical Theology

Research & Development

Formed as a bridge between STH’s university-based theological seminary and communities of faith. Originally named the Center for Congregational Research and Development until the name change in 2005.

2001

Center for Global

Christianity & Mission

Dr. Dana Robert and Dr. Marthinus Daneel found CGCM to explore the demographic shift of Christianity to the southern hemisphere and Asia.

2002

Religion & Conflict

Transformation Program

Established to train religious leaders to become a resource for peace in a multi-cultural, multi-faith world. The seminary-based program offers training in theology, theory, and practice of faith-based conflict transformation. The Center now bears the name of co-founder Tom Porter, retired STH professor, who dedicated his time and effort to see this Center thrive.

2004

The Massachusetts Fight

for Marriage Equality

Many STH students and faculty become involved in the push to legalize same-sex marriage, which will be legally recognized by Massachusetts on May 17th, coincidentally STH’s graduation day.

2005

Robert A. Brown

University President

Brown is appointed BU’s tenth president and soon institutes the “One BU” plan, which allows for easy cross-registration between all 17 schools and colleges.

2007

New Curricula for

MDiv & MTS

Faculty begin developing changes for the Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies programs. Launched in 2010, they include concentrations aimed at a wide range of vocational goals and increased free electives.

2008

Mary Elizabeth Moore

First Female Dean

Moore is appointed first female dean of STH. Her work in religious education and eco-feminism points the way for the School’s next decade.

2012

Spectrums Project

Launched

A cross-disciplinary team of scientists, philosophers, and STH theologians begin scientific research into the nature of religious ideology, especially along the left-right religious spectrum.

2013

School of Theology

Community Center

A multipurpose student space for study, meetings, recreation, and weekly community lunches, the new Community Center opens with an elite LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.

2014

#BlackLivesMatter

STH faculty and students participate in the early days of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Several travel to Ferguson, Missouri and assume leadership positions, while many more join frequent protests in Boston.

2015

Doris J. Garcia Rivera

President, Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico

STH alumna Rivera is installed as the first woman president in the seminary’s history. Rivera earned a PhD in Historical & Bible Studies from STH in 2000.

2017

School of Theology

Diversity Statement

In an effort to affirm and name the longstanding efforts of our community to be equitable, inclusive, and diverse, STH faculty adopt the STH Diversity Statement.

2018

Faith & Ecological

Justice Program

Providing coursework and sustainability programming, the program culminates of 20 years’ work by STH and its faculty to build strength in ecological justice training.