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New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) was founded in 1900 by Wilbert Webster White as the Bible Teacher’s Training College in Montclair. A gifted scholar and teacher, President White developed a curriculum that combined the study of the Bible in one’s own language with practical training for ministry. After moving to New York City in 1902, the school became known as The Biblical Seminary in New York, and then in 1966 New York Theological Seminary. Among the distinctive attributes that have characterized the Seminary through the years have been its emphasis upon ministry and mission, its openness to both women and men, and its diversity in denominational and cultural traditions represented among its student body.
In 1969 George W. “Bill” Webber became President of NYTS, opening a new era in urban theological education in North America. The Seminary became more intentional in responding to the needs of urban churches and urban pastors, many of them without formal academic training. As New York City became more internationally diverse through the 1980s, the Seminary kept pace, opening programs in Spanish and Korean, and working with an increasingly global constituency. In 1982 the Seminary opened an accredited Master’s degree program inside Sing Sing Correctional Facility to train people who were incarcerated within the New York State correctional system for ministry from within. Many of those graduates have subsequently come home and are distinguishing themselves in leadership in a variety of professions. Since 2002 NYTS has been located in The Interchurch Center in Morningside Heights, in Manhattan, with classes held in The Riverside Church and in other locations throughout New York metropolitan region. For library resources NYTS students have access to the Columbia University Library System, which includes the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary.
NYTS currently offers a Master of Professional Studies (in Sing Sing only), a Master of Arts in Religious Education, a Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling, a Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration, a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry, a Master of Divinity, a Doctor of Ministry, a non-accredited Certificate in Ministry, and several other certificate programs. The Seminary is an accredited Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) site as well. Most of the more than 650 students attending classes in these various programs work full-time and go to school evenings and/or weekends. Instruction is offered in English, Spanish, and Korean. Graduates are serving around the world in a variety of ministries in churches, educational institutions, faith-based organizations, government, and secular professions. They are pastors, bishops, chaplains, teachers, business leaders, university professors, executives, lawyers, medical doctors, missionaries, and more. NYTS is often cited as a model for institutions around the world seeking to address the educational needs of those living in urban centers and facing the challenge of contemporary global economic and social contexts.
“New York Theological Seminary lives on the hyphen between the Word and the world.”
– George W. “Bill” Webber, President, 1969-1982