An Episcopal Center for Learning & Discipleship



Bexley Seabury Federation History

At historic meetings in March 2012, the boards of Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Chicago and Bexley Hall in Columbus unanimously voted to federate and to elect the Rev. Roger Albert Ferlo, PhD, DD, as the Federation’s first president. Ferlo, who was previously the associate dean and director of the Institute of Christian Formation and Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary, where he also served as professor of religion and culture.

The two seminaries began the process of federation in 2007, facilitated by a team from Auburn Seminary’s Center for the Study of Theological Education led by former Virginia Theological Seminary President Martha Horne. In February 2011, Seabury and Bexley ratified a joint operating agreement.

The Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Seminary Federation was inaugurated and President Ferlo was inaugurated in April 2013 at a festival Eucharist in the chapel of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. In September 2013, the Bexley Seabury Federation was accredited through 2015 by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada to offer the degrees of Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry.

Bexley History

Bexley Hall is a seminary in Bexley, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. It is one of 11 official seminaries of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and identifies itself as liberal Anglo-Catholic in orientation.

The seminary was established in 1824 by Bishop Philander Chase in conjunction with the establishment of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Bexley Hall was later identified separately, and was named in honour of Nicholas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley, an early benefactor of Kenyon College.

Bexley Hall disassociated with Kenyon in 1968 and moved from Gambier to Rochester, New York where it affiliated with Colgate Rochester Divinity School (which since became Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School). Although the seminary is no longer affiliated with Kenyon College, the 1839 seminary building in Gambier now houses fine art facilities for Kenyon, and is still known as Bexley Hall.

After 30 years in New York state, in 1999, Bexley Hall re-established a campus in Ohio through a partnership with Trinity Lutheran Seminary of Columbus, in a suburb coincidentally named Bexley. In 2008, the Rochester campus was closed to focus efforts on the ecumenical partnership with Trinity Lutheran Seminary.

Bexley Hall is situated adjacent to the Capital University campus, a liberal arts institution with undergraduate, graduate and professional school divisions. Bexley Hall is a member of the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus (TCGC), along with Trinity Lutheran Seminary, the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO), and the Pontifical College Josephinum.  Students can take courses in any of the TCGC member schools.

Seabury History

The roots of Seabury-Western are in Illinois and Minnesota, in the Episcopal Church's nineteenth century missionary outreach to western America. Seabury-Western Theological Seminary was created in 1933 by the merger of Seabury Divinity School (1858, Faribault, Minnesota) and Western Theological Seminary (1883, Chicago, Illinois).

In 1858, James Lloyd Breck founded Bishop Seabury University in Faribault, Minnesota, to provide education from primary school through theological studies for both Native Americans and Euro-American settlers. He envisioned his “School of the Prophets” as the center of evangelism for the about-to-be organized Diocese of Minnesota. The Seabury Divinity School, which emerged, continued its missionary consciousness and, in the twentieth century, developed a distinctly evangelical character.

In 1883, under the leadership of Chicago's Bishop William E. McLaren, the Western Theological Seminary was chartered and built in Chicago. Its first class was held in 1885. Western's mission was to educate "fit persons in the Catholic Faith in its purity and integrity, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, held by the Primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General Councils."

Western moved from Chicago to Evanston in 1929, at the invitation of Northwestern University and the Garrett Biblical Institute. Subsequently, complementary concerns and common interests led the boards of Seabury and Western to combine their resources, and the merged Seabury-Western Theological Seminary opened its doors in Evanston on October 10, 1933. The characteristics — evangelical and catholic — that Seabury and Western, respectively, brought to the new Seminary reflect the strengths of the present Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, with its fundamental concern for learning in the service of mission. In 1994 the Seabury Institute was founded as a ministry of the Seminary to create a partnership with parishes that are exercising leadership for mission in the Church today and into the future.

In 2009, Seabury made the decision to sell its property to Northwestern University. The transaction, completed in July 2009, allowed Seabury to eliminate its debt, balance its budget, and position itself to realize a new mission.