School of Religious Education and Social Service, 1918-39
The School of Theology created a special department of religious education in 1911, one of the first to be established in the United States. In the spring of 1917, representatives of Morgan Memorial and the New England Deaconness Association sought the cooperation of Boston University in the development of their educational work. The increasing difficulty in securing religious workers for New England had led the New England Home Mission Council to appoint a committee to investigate and report on the advisability of establishing in Boston, a New England School for the Training of Christian Workers. After some deliberation it was decided that the trustees of Boston University, Morgan Memorial and the New England Deaconess Association would jointly operate such a school.
Dr. Walter S. Athearn, who was a faculty member of the Graduate School of Boston University, was chosen as the first director. In the spring of 1918, a tentative educational program and the nucleus of a faculty were approved, and in September of that year, the new department opened at 525 Boylston Street, in connection with the School of Education.
In 1921 the school outgrew its building, and moved to Beacon Hill at 18 Derne Street. By 1922, Boston University assumed both the financial responsibility and administrative control and direction of the school, and it became the School of Religious Education and Social Service, a recognized department of the university, with its own Dean and standing committee. It was the first school of its kind.
The School of Religious Education and Social Service was intertwined with the School of Theology, both in its inception and in its operation. Students from the School of Religious Education and Social Service frequently took courses in the School of Theology. However, they remained two separate entities. The School of Religious Education and Social Service was distinguishable from the School of Theology in the following particulars:
- The former was a college, admitting students directly from High School, while the latter was a Graduate School requiring a collegiate degree fro admission.
- The former trained lay workers for the church, while the latter trained ministerial leaders.
- The former conferred the degrees of Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Religious Education, while the latter provided an S.T.B. degree with a concentration in Religious Education.
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Walter Eugene Bachman
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