Rahul Sharma

Auburn Theological Seminary

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Location  New York City
Method  Education, advocacy
Auburn Theological Seminary
Type  501(c)(3) charitable organization
Focus  Religious education and activism
Key people  Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson (President) Rev. John Vaughn (Executive Vice President) Macky Alston (V.P., Auburn Media) Rabbi Justus Baird](Dean) Isaac Luria (V.P., Auburn Action) Valarie KaurFounding Director, Groundswell
Website  www.auburnseminary.org www.groundswell-movement.org

The Auburn Theological Seminary is a leadership development institute for faith-rooted justice leaders in New York City. According to its Web site, the organization "equip leaders of faith and moral courage to work for social change in order to heal and repair the world... Auburn identifies, equips and supports the game-changing faith leaders of our time; provides the platforms to help leaders reach broad audiences; and applies research to ensure that Auburn and others dedicated to leadership formation are achieving impact."



Auburn Seminary was established in Auburn (Cayuga County) by action of the Presbyterian Synod of Geneva on 16 August 1818. It obtained a charter from the New York State legislature on 14 April 1820 as a post-baccalaureate theological seminary and matriculated its first students in 1821. From its inception, Auburn Seminary drew support from beyond the Presbyterian Church. Its charter stipulated that "no student of any Christian denomination shall be excluded," and the first class of eleven students represented eight denominations. The Roman Catholic bishop from Boston, Bishop Chevereux, donated books for the school's library.

The school's founders and early faculty (Dirck Lansing, Matthew Perrine, and Henry Mills) rejected sterner forms of Calvinism and advocated for flexible church governance within the Presbyterian Church. These beliefs became known as the Auburn Declaration of 1937.

Under the presidency of George Black Stewart (1899-1926) the school grew to 105 students and eleven faculty. A Summer School of Theology for clergy and laity was established in 1911, and a School of Religious Education in 1921.

Auburn faculty (led by Robert Hastings Nichols, professor of church history) played a key role in what became known as the Auburn Affirmation (adopted in 1924) which defended theological freedom and prevented a fundamentalist takeover of the Presbyterian Church.

The Great Depression left Auburn Seminary with a diminished student body and strained resources. The faculty and President Rev. Paul Silas Heath (1936-1939), began conversations with several seminaries about possibly relocating. In 1939, it closed its Auburn campus and at the invitation of President Henry Sloan Coffin, moved to the campus of Union Seminary in New York City, although it maintained its board of trustees and endowment.

With the move to Union, Auburn Seminary ceased granting degrees, instead developing new initiatives: a Program of Training for Rural Ministry in 1944, which continued its emphasis on preparing individuals for the practice of ministry, not for theological specialization; in 1964 the Center for Continuing Education was established as well as the Experimental Program for the Practice of Christian Ministry; in 1968 Auburn Studies in Theological Education was begun; in 1971 the Susquehanna Valley Project to support local ministers started; in 1985 interreligious programs for faith leaders were developed and in 1991 The Center for the Study of Theological Education was established.

In 2009, the Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson was inaugurated as president, shifting the institution’s focus toward training and supporting faith leaders who work in progressive justice organizations and movements. Auburn's signature programs include: media training, Auburn Senior Fellows, Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle, digital organizing, coaching for faith leaders, and entrepreneurial ministry. Auburn Research explores the needs of theological institutions, their leaders and students, and the ways in which leaders of faith and moral courage are affecting positive social change in society.

Notable alumni

  • Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858–1901)
  • Dwight Baldwin (1798–1886)
  • David Riddle Breed (1848–1931)
  • Henry Roe Cloud (1884–1950)
  • Titus Coan (1801–1881)
  • Sheldon Dibble (1809–1845)
  • Justus Doolittle (1824–1880)
  • Josiah Bushnell Grinnell (1821–1891)
  • Charles Frederic Goss (1852-1930)
  • Laurentine Hamilton (1826–1882)
  • Joel T. Headley (1813–1897)
  • Moses A. Hopkins (1846–1886)
  • Herrick Johnson (1832–1913)
  • George Williams Knox (1853–1912)
  • Lorenzo Lyons (1807–1886)
  • Edward Payson Roe (1838–1888)
  • Boon Tuan Boon-Itt (1865–1903) an early leader in the Protestant Christian community of Thailand
  • Notable faculty

  • John Colman Bennett
  • Timothy Grenville Darling
  • James A. Forbes (born 1935)
  • Laurens Perseus Hickok (1798–1888)
  • Josiah Hopkins
  • Matthew LaRue Perrine
  • William Greenough Thayer Shedd (1820–1894)
  • George Black Stewart
  • Walter Wink
  • References

    Auburn Theological Seminary Wikipedia

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