UTI 30th Anniversary - A Brief History

30th Anniversary of the Urban Theological Institute


In 1978, The Rev. Dr. Andrew H. Willis and the late Rev. Dr. Randolph L. Jones began a series of meetings, exploring their concerns that the theological needs of the black church were not being met.

A dream emerged for a program that would have academic integrity, offered in the evenings and on Saturdays to meet the needs of working pastors.

In 1979, Drs. Jones and Willis approached Dr. Faith Burgess, then academic Dr. Randolph Jones - center - with UTI graduates, 2003dean of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), and a series of meetings with community pastors representing a cross section of denominations was called. These meetings resulted in the design and creation of the Urban Theological Institute (UTI) of LTSP in 1980. This was the culmination of the dream of Drs. Jones and Willis, and as Dr. Jones often said, "Others said no, and Lutheran said YES." (at right: Dr. Randolph Jones - center - with UTI graduates, 2003)

In addition to the academic program, UTI provides occasions for the general Dr. Andrew Willis - left - with UTI graduates, 2005public to share in the life of theological education. For 28 years, the annual Preaching with Power series has brought the finest in African American preaching to Philadelphia. It is hosted both on the seminary's campus and in congregations throughout the community, and includes not only a preaching service but also sessions with the preacher and students as well as an academic lecture. A certificate program in Church Leadership was started to offer training for church leaders not currently eligible for seminary admission. (at right: Dr. Andrew Willis - left - with 2005 UTI graduates and faculty)

UTI has grown and prospered over the last 30 years, with over 135 UTI graduates faithfully serving the church and community as pastors, educators, and outreach ministers in various denominations.


Celebrating our past...
...building our future