HISTORY OF NTS - A MISSIONAL SEMINARY
The Church of the Nazarene, founded in 1908, has since its beginning stressed the importance of education. It started and developed a number of denominational colleges to meet the demand of its constituents for college training, and for some time it relied on the religion departments of its colleges as the principle means for training students preparing for ministry. However, during the quadrennium of 1940 - 1944, sentiment favoring the establishment of a central theological school grew rapidly and finally crystallized in an action of the Annual Conference of the District Superintendents held in Kansas City, January 5 - 6, 1944. The conference recommended that the Board of General Superintendents appoint a Seminary Commission to study the need for such an institution. On January 10, 1944, the Board of General Superintendents appointed the commission: Russell V. DeLong, chairman, M. Lunn, secretary; E.O. Chalfant; M. Kimber Moulton, and Harlan Heinmiller.
The commission reported its findings to the Eleventh General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene held in Minneapolis in June 1944. This assembly authorized the establishment of the Seminary as a graduation institution of the Church of the Nazarene. The first Seminary Board of Trustees was then elected and the name Nazarene Theological Seminary was chosen. The Board of Trustees unanimously selected Kansas City as the Seminary’s location.
At a special meeting in Kansas City, September 1944, the Board of Trustees unanimously elected Hugh C. Benner as the Seminary’s first president.
Meeting in January 1945, the Board of Trustees elected the following full-time faculty: Russell V. DeLong, district superintendent of the Northwest Indiana District, as Dean and Professor of Philosophy of Religion; Ralph Earle, Professor of Greek and Bible; L.A. Reed, pastor of First Church of the Nazarene, Chicago, as Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry; Mendell Taylor, Dean and Professor of History at Bethany Nazarene College, as Registrar and Professor of Church History; and Stephen S. White, Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Olivet Nazarene College, as Professor of Theology.
The Seminary started its first school year in September 1945 in temporary quarters with 61 enrolled. The Nazarene Publishing House generously provided space for administrative offices and a classroom on the first floor of the General Editorial Building at 2901 Troost; and the management of the denominational headquarters building extended a similar courtesy in providing the Seminary with its main classroom and chapel. The library was housed in the renovated coach house of the Headquarters property.
In January 1950, a 10 ½ acre site was purchased at 1700 East Meyer Blvd in Kansas City, MO. An administration and classroom building was erected on the campus in 1954, and a library building was added in 1966. In 2008, NTS took possession of the King Conference Center, Commons, and additional land that brought the campus to a total of 25 acres.
Nazarene Theological Seminary presidents include:
Dr. Hugh C. Benner, 1944 - 1952
Dr. L.T. Corlett, 1952 - 1966
Dr. Eugene Stowe, 1966 - 1968
Dr. William M. Greathouse, 1968 - 1976
Dr. Stephen W. Nease, 1976 - 1980
Dr. Terrell C. Sanders, Jr., 1981 - 1992
Dr. A. Gordon Wetmore, 1992 - 2000
Dr. Ron Benefiel, 2000 - 2011
Dr. David A. Busic, 2011 - 2013
Dr. Carla Sunberg, 2014 - present
The Mission of Nazarene Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, is to prepare women and men to be faithful and effective ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to offer itself as a theological resource in service to the Church of the Nazarene, its sponsoring denomination, and the wider Christian Church. NTS is a missional seminary serving a missional church.
Theologically, the Seminary is rooted in the historic Christian faith as expressed in the Church of the Nazarene. Affirming the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition with its emphasis upon entire sanctification, we seek to explore and develop this tradition in contemporary contexts.
Spiritually, the Seminary seeks to nurture a living faith through spiritual formation. In community we desire to know and love the Lord, walk with the Lord, and speak of the Lord, increasing our commitment to Christ and his service.
Academically, the Seminary is committed to grounding students in the classical and applied theological disciplines for the practice of ministry. We affirm Holy Scripture as the primary, final and decisive norm of teaching, while making full use of tradition, experience and reason as tools in biblical interpretation and theological formulation.
Professionally, the Seminary purposes to equip students for the practice of ministry throughout the world, across the entire range of contemporary societies, using every means consistent with the message of the Gospel. Called to serve a global church, the Seminary seeks to reflect diversity in its life and work and to equip ministers to serve in multi-cultural contexts. Consistent with the Gospel and its Wesleyan-Holiness heritage, the Seminary seeks to nourish in students passion for evangelism, compassion toward the needy, and a desire to strive for social and economic justice, and an understanding of the formation of a missional Christian community.
All of these elements, properly integrated in a campus community of worship and learning, are designed to prepare graduates committed to the commission entrusted to the Church by its risen Lord to preach the Gospel to everyone, to administer the sacraments, to build up the believers in the Body of Christ, and to equip them for service in the world.
As a post-baccalaureate educational institution, the Seminary’s principal academic focus is the curriculum that leads to the Master of Divinity degree. It also recognizes the importance of specialized forms of Christian ministry in Christian education, missiology, compassionate ministry, and academic teaching. Degree programs leading to the Master of Arts in Christian Formation and Discipleship, the Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies, and the Master of Arts (Theological Studies) provide special preparation for such ministries. In addition, the Seminary offers instruction in biblical languages, Christian discipleship, church planting, evangelism, missional leadership and discipleship, pastoral counseling, and spiritual formation, along with chaplaincy, compassionate, cross-cultural, lay, urban, urban youth, and age-level ministries. The Seminary also acknowledges the importance of post-Master’s level study for professional clergy, and therefore offers the Doctor of Ministry degree. Recognizing the need for life-long learning, the Seminary provides appropriate continuing education for clergy and laity.