Established in 1859, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been at the forefront of global theological education for over 150 years. The seminary was founded in Greenville, South Carolina, where four founding professors and a handful of young students began a work that would span the globe in influence and effect.
The seminary’s founder, James Petigru Boyce, was joined by John A. Broadus, Basil Manly Jr., and William Williams as the seminary’s first faculty. Those four men were among the leading figures in theological education of their day, and since then Southern Seminary’s faculty has grown in number, influence, and contributions to the life of the church.
After the national trauma of the Civil War, the seminary moved from South Carolina to Louisville, Kentucky. In short order, the seminary soon occupied a stately campus in the heart of the city, including Norton Hall, the largest building then constructed for the purpose of educating the ministry. As time would reveal, that campus would not be sufficient for the growth of the school.
In 1926, President E. Y. Mullins led in the purchase and development of “The Beeches,” the seminary’s beautiful campus on Lexington Road. Occupying one of the city’s most significant elevations, the campus was designed by America’s most famous landscape architect, Fredrick Law Olmstead. It has grown to include more than one million square feet of construction.
Today, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the largest theological institutions in the world. Those studying for the pastorate on this campus represent the largest number of such students gathered in one place in the history of the Christian church.
The seminary now includes two graduate schools and Boyce College, an undergraduate school that fulfills one of the seminary’s founding purposes – to train, educate, and prepare God-called ministers of the gospel at every level, from the baccalaureate to one of the nation’s most respected Doctor of Philosophy programs.
From the beginning, Southern Seminary has been a confessional institution. Every professor makes the solemn vow to teach in accordance with and not contrary to all that is contained within the seminary’s historic doctrinal statement, the Abstract of Principles, and the confession of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist Faith & Message.
This is a priceless stewardship, and it is the driving mission of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.