The consolidation of two previously separate institutions, Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary (United Presbyterian Church of North America) and Western Theological Seminary (Presbyterian Church USA), led to the formation of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1959.
The history of the Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary began with the founding of Service Seminary in 1794 by the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania. Prior to that time, the Presbytery was dependent on a supply of ministers sent from Scotland. The Rev. John Anderson, D.D., was elected as the first teacher of divinity and the school began with an enrollment of six students. Service Seminary moved twice, first to Ohio where it became Xenia Theological Seminary. This occurred in the 1850s and was prompted by a desire to locate nearer to the growing population in the midwest. The Rev. Joseph Kyle joined the faculty in 1900 (leaving 4th U.P. Church in Allegheny, PA). In approximately 1914 Kyle was appointed president. In 1920 the trustees determined to move the seminary to St. Louis, MO, also to be nearer to potential students in the plains states. In 1921 the Rev. Dr. Kyle died unexpectedly. This loss of leadership at a crucial transition period created problems for the fledgling institution and it never really took root. In 1930 it merged with a seminary that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1825 and together they formed the Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. This institution was later augmented by the resources of Newburgh Seminary, founded in New York City in 1805 by John Mitchell Mason.
Western Theological Seminary, the other branch of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's pre-1959 history, began with the establishment of classical academies in Washington, PA, the first in 1785 by Joseph Smith and another in 1787 by John McMillan. Out of these academies, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA created Western Seminary. It was indeed a western seminary in 1825, furnishing a ministry for the rapidly opening frontier territories along the Ohio River.
Since the 1959 consolidation, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has been located on the former Pittsburgh-Xenia Seminary campus in the Highland Park/East Liberty section of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The seminary has scholars in all major fields of theological inquiry, and offers language training in Greek and Hebrew. The following degrees are offered by the institution:
The seminary also cooperates with other institutions within the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education to offer combined degree programs, including;
In addition, the seminary works in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh to offer a Doctor of Philosophy degree through the university.
The Clifford E. Barbour Library is the most important theological resource in Western Pennsylvania. Its 370,000 items, 195,000 titles, and more than 1,000 periodical subscriptions make it one of the largest stand-alone theological libraries in the United States. The library is located in a three story building of American Colonial design, dedicated in 1964. The library houses several valuable collections, including the John M. Mason Memorial Collection, which consists of many rare theological works dating from the Reformation. On display in the Hansen Reading Room are the desk and chair of Karl Barth, dedicated to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary by Barth's son, Markus Barth, a faculty member from 1963-1972.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is home to the Kelso Bible Lands Museum. The museum is home to a collection of ancient Near Eastern and Palestinian pottery and artifacts brought together by travelers and archeologists over the past 60 years. Many exhibits resulted from the eight excavations of which the seminary has been a part.
The seminary is very involved in Biblical archaeology, and sponsors the Zeitah Excavations in Israel at Tel Zayit. The excavation was founded under the direction of Professor Ron E. Tappy, Professor of Bible and Archaeology and director of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s James L. Kelso Bible Lands Museum. The excavation began in 1999 with a 55 member international team of experts and volunteers. Most finds during the first year of excavation were dated to the Middle Ages, the time of the Ottoman Empire and crusades. During June and July 2000, the project concentrated on the Iron Age II (Old Testament period) levels lying directly beneath on the acropolis. The project is aimed at clarifying our knowledge of life in local town settings in ancient Israel. Students may earn up to 6 transferable quarter credits through Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for their participation in the excavations and field school. Alternatively, students may arrange to receive academic credit through their home institutions.
The Metro-Urban Institute (MUI) is another extension of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. MUI was founded in 1991 and is aimed at combining the theory and practice of collaborative community ministry into a program of urban theological education that prepares students for excellence in any context of ministry, but with particular attention to public realities affecting the urban environment. The Metro-Urban Institute encourages interdisciplinary and interfaith approaches to solving social problems and reconciling human beings to God and to one another.
WMI has a Seminary Focus in order to prepare seminary students to become pastors with a larger Christian worldview and a passion for mission. WMI works to train world Christian pastors who have a passion for mission and know how to lead the church missionally and inter-culturally. We do this by offering cross-cultural experiences during Spring Break and the Summer. Financial assistance is available for the students. In addition, WMI has adopted an unreached people group, and many PTS students participate in prayer for them during the weekly Great Commission Team meetings. WMI hosts missionaries, national church leaders and scholars on campus throughout the year. WMI’s Congregational Focus seeks to support, educate, and encourage congregations so that they can grow in their knowledge and commitment to mission. WMI works to point congregations to God's work in the world and how they can get involved. We provide churches with mission resources, including help with research or listings on our website. WMI consultants are available to speak, consult, and/or teach at area churches. WMI helps pastors and committees network to learn more about mission programs and education, as well as trip planning. WMI offers the bi-annual WMI Conference, which is full of great educational workshops and speakers such as Rev. Hunter Farrell and Dr. Ken Bailey. WMI also plans various mission workshops and seminars throughout the year.
The seminary sponsors the Summer Youth Institute (SYI), which provides young people a Christian community where they can be challenged to move beyond their comfort zone in order to grow in faith, engage in academic theological study, explore ministry as a vocation, and learn about Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), however, over 20 denominations are represented at the seminary. Over 380 students are enrolled in programs at PTS, and are instructed by more than 20 full-time faculty members.
Several student groups and organizations are present at the seminary. Groups that have remained consistently year after year include The Association of Women at Seminary (AWS), African-American Student Fellowship (NIA), The Evangelical Student Fellowship (ESF), the International Student Association, the Peace & Justice Fellowship, the Preaching Association, the Seminary Choir, and a number of denominational fellowships.
Prominent faculty have included:
Prominent graduates include: