LTSP History


Original faculty, described below

Original faculty. Top, left to right: William J. Mann and Charles Porterfield Krauth. Center: Charles F. Schaeffer. Bottom: Charles W. Schaeffer and G. F. Krotel.

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) is one of eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

First seminary building, 42 N. Ninth St., PhiladelphiaLTSP is proud of the Lutheran confessional tradition that inspired its founding in 1864 by the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, the oldest Lutheran synod in America. Its first classes were held in facilities on North Ninth Street in Philadelphia (see photo, right). In 1872 the Ministerium of New York joined in support of the seminary by endowing a professorship and receiving representation on the Board of Trustees.

In 1889 the seminary was relocated northwest to the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, a section of the city nationally regarded today for its rich history of multicultural diversity and cooperation. The 14-acre campus has historic importance as well. The first shots of the American Revolution’s Battle of Germantown were fired on land that later became its campus. The Refectory, where thousands of seminarians have enjoyed meals and conversation, dates to 1792. The Hagan Administration Center incorporates the mansion from the former Gowen estate, owned by the family that operated the Reading Railroad. Four buildings on the campus were designed by Reading Railroad architect Frank Furness, one of Philadelphia’s most famous architects.

The Krauth Memorial Library

In 1903 the Board reorganized to include representatives of what was then known as the Pittsburgh Synod and the Synod of New York and New England. In 1908, the seminary opened the Krauth Memorial Library, celebrated at its dedication as "the handsomest library building connected with any American Theological Seminary and a monument thoroughly representative of the best in the Lutheran church and worthy of her great future in this country." (at left, the Krauth Library during its 100th anniversary) In 1950, the Synod of New Jersey was formed, and its representatives also began serving on the Board.

Since the formation of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) in 1962 and subsequently of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1988, the seminary has been administered by a Board of Trustees elected by those synods assigned to it by the Church as supporting synods with additional Trustees elected by the Church Council of the ELCA.

UTI faculty and graduatesAn important moment in the development of LTSP occurred in 1979, when the LTSP Board of Directors authorized the establishment of the Urban Theological Institute (UTI) as a program of the seminary. The vision for the UTI originated with the Revs. Randolph L. Jones and Andrew H. Willis, who dreamed of a program with full academic integrity that would provide a theological degree through classes in the evenings and on Saturdays. Intended particularly for students from African American churches and worship traditions, the degree program was designed with a focus on ministry in the urban context. The first UTI students began their studies in 1980. Today many UTI graduates hold outstanding leadership roles in various denominations and are actively involved in their communities, and the UTI continues to sponsor the annual Preaching with Power series, featuring sermons in actual congregational settings by renowned African American preachers of the United States.

TI classThus, while strongly rooted in the confessional Lutheran tradition of its origin, LTSP has established a record of distinguished service to a variety of other traditions that form the pluralistic texture of the northeastern United States. Students from more than 40 denominational backgrounds have studied here. The seminary enjoys United Methodist certification and prepares diaconal students for the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. It offers Black Church, Latino, multicultural, and metropolitan/urban concentrations in recognition of its context and of today’s evolving ministry needs. The Advanced Degree program offers professional leaders continuing education toward the Doctor of Ministry, Master of Sacred Theology, and Doctor of Theology degrees.

Having graduated nearly 4,000 church leaders, the seminary is now in the midst of an ambitious campus renewal initiative. The state-of-the-art Brossman Learning Center opened in Fall 2005 and quickly became the new hub of the campus, housing Enrollment Services offices and a number of learning resource centers, as well as high-tech classrooms, seminar and study rooms, a great hall, mail center, and common rooms. The Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel has been renovated to accommodate more varied worship styles. The Wiedemann Center, dedicated in 1998, provides contemporary housing for seminarians and their families and accommodates the Augsburg Fortress bookstore and a fitness center.

The seminary also sees several new initiatives as part of its mission to prepare leaders for the Church in the new century. They include its Theological Education with Youth (TEY) outreach, funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc., which encourages high school youth to fall in love with theology by taking part in a Summer Theological Academy or by studying as part of a Counselors-in-Training program. Project Connect is helping future leaders discern their call from God and where they fit in ministry in any number of different ordained and lay ministry settings.