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Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS)

In this Et Cetera, an institution with a long history in Kentucky.

2009 marked 150 years for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with more than 130 of those years spent in Louisville.

Originally located in Greenville, South Carolina, seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention .

Some might say divine intervention helped Louisville win the bid for the school’s relocation in 1877, as it struggled to bounce back following the Civil War. The first Louisville campus was located downtown; the present Lexington Road campus opened in 1926.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once spoke in the seminary’s chapel and led a few class discussions during a visit to Louisville in 1961. Previously, he had accompanied his mother on campus, who was organist for the Woman’s Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention.

Throughout its history Southern Seminary has not been without controversy and criticism, but administrators see its 150 years as a testament to its relevance and permanence.

With the continued growth of its student body and expansion of both its academic programs and campus, Seminary President Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. has said the school has “more to do, not less.”

In conjunction with its Sesquicentennial Celebration, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary dedicated a new Pavilion in honor of Dr. Duke K. McCall – the Seminary’s seventh president. McCall stepped down in 1982, having served the seminary for three decades.

One feature of the new building is the inclusion of a time capsule, which is to be opened in 2059.

Additional Facts:

  • In 1857 Southern Baptists at the Education Convention in Louisville formally approved the motion to begin The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • SBTS closed in the fall of 1862 for the remainder of the Civil War, due to the engagement of its student body.
  • Noted oilman J.D. Rockefeller was a prominent supporter of SBTS.
  • According to Wikipedia, SBTS was one of the first seminaries in the nation to offer a Ph. D. and its department of missions is one of the oldest in the world. It was also the first in the nation to offer courses in religious education and in church social work, and is one of the few seminaries to offer a full degree course in church music.
  • A more detailed history of SBTS is available from Oxford University Press, USA. "Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009" is by SBTS Professor of Church History Dr. Gregory Wills.
Program 404
"Louisville Life" meets adventurer and educator Tori Murden McClure, visits the Abbey of Gethsemani, visits Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheeses in southern Indiana and more. (#404)