Celebrating a trailblazing past and innovative future

Lexington, Ky., Feb. 25, 2015 – Lexington Theological Seminary celebrates 150 years in 2015, with a series of events throughout the year commemorating this milestone anniversary.

“During the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Seminary in 2015, we are going to hear many stories of the Seminary’s impact. These narratives can remind us of our history as a pioneer institution,” said LTS President Charisse L. Gillett. “Today, Lexington Theological Seminary’s model for theological education, which includes an innovative utilization of technology, removes common barriers to a high-quality, congregation-focused theological education.”

The year’s events in particular focus on the Seminary’s relationships with congregations, beginning with a kickoff event in January at Beargrass Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., where the Seminary and congregation recognized the long history of scholarship recipients known as Beargrass Scholars.

Events are planned for each month of the year; a complete list of events and more information about the sesquicentennial celebrations may be found online at Highlights include a series of webinars throughout the year; a symposium on flourishing in ministry in May; a community golf scramble in June; Commencement also in June with the Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as keynote speaker; and homecoming in October.

“2015 will be a year of great celebration for the Seminary, looking both back in time with appreciation and forward with excitement” said Richard Griffith, Chair of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees.

Lexington Theological Seminary is the pioneer theological school of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is located within the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, where much of the Disciples’ early history occurred. The Seminary has played a vital role in that Church’s development.

It also plays a key role in the history of higher education in Kentucky.  The Seminary dates its founding from 1865 when it was The College of the Bible, one of several colleges in Kentucky University. Another of these colleges was the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, which separated from its parent institution in 1878, and through a series of name changes emerged as the present University of Kentucky. The Seminary acquired its own charter in 1878 and occupied buildings on the campus of Kentucky University (Transylvania University) until 1950, when it moved to South Limestone Street in Lexington. At its centennial in 1965, The College of the Bible was renamed Lexington Theological Seminary.

LTS played a leading role in the formation of  The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, the official accrediting agency of theological institutions. The Seminary also established the first chair of religious education in the nation, instituted one of the first courses on the ecumenical church, and was the first seminary in the United States to offer clinical pastoral training as a part of its curriculum.

Lexington Theological Seminary in the 21st century transformed its educational model for clergy preparation to integrate the congregation as a full partner in the preparation of pastors for leadership in the church. In 2013, the Seminary moved from a residential model and campus to its present location at Lexington Green Circle.


Lexington Theological Seminary is an accredited graduate theological institution of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Consistent with the Disciples’ historic commitment to Christian unity, the Seminary is intentionally ecumenical with students, faculty, staff and trustees of various denominations. The Seminary has been preparing leaders for the church since 1865. For more information, visit


We’re celebrating 150 years!

LTS anniversary seal for websiteIn case you haven’t heard, Lexington Theological Seminary is 150 years old this year! We intend to celebrate all year long!

You’ll find a list of celebratory events, photos throughout the year, more about our history and your future, and we hope very much to see you at one or more of them. We’re very aware as we begin the 150th party that it is somehow all the more special given our last few years of transition. That we stand now, experiencing what the Psalmist called the “goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” is tremendous testament to the ways in which God has been at work in the LTS community—and you have played a significant role, all along the way.

We stand on the mighty shoulders of so many men and women who have been part of the LTS story—students, faculty members, staff, alumni, congregational supporters. All these people have gotten us where we are today, and for that we offer praise and thanksgiving.

It is good to be Lexington Theological Seminary these days!IMG_5614 copy

And always—always there are higher goals, more outreach, bigger plans—and most importantly, more men and women hearing God’s call to ministry, and finding that LTS might just be the place where they can explore and live into that call. And so always we will need your help—your prayers, your advocacy, your financial gifts. We literally cannot do this work without you, and in helping us do this work, you claim your place in the community, flung near and far! That is Lexington Theological Seminary!

IMG_5471 copyIf you have not made a gift to this fiscal year’s Ministerial Education Fund, we invite you to do so now. And you can always contact us directly at the Seminary if you have questions or want to talk to someone in the Advancement Office.

We hope to see you in 2015!

Open Letter from African American Presidents and Deans

An open letter from African-American Deans and Presidents of Theological Schools regarding issues of racial justice, with signatures from more than 30 presidents and deans in theological education, including LTS President Charisse L. Gillett, was recently published in the Huffington Post. We invite you to read the letter and share it so that conversation surrounding these issues may be heard:


By Julie Richardson, M. Div., Advancement Associate

It is no exaggeration to say that both my undergraduate and graduate educations remain two of the most important gifts I’ve received in my life. I was incredibly fortunate to walk away from both college and seminary without any significant student debt. I was grateful then; to be sure, I am now even more so. It took a few years of full-time professional work, a broader and deeper understanding of higher education and Church, and becoming a mom for me to truly understand how fortunate I am in regards to education.


I am humbled when I hear the stories of those who have given generously, and often sacrificially, so that my seminary peers and I could follow a call to ministry via an education at Lexington Theological Seminary. It is a tremendous thing, and we all stand on the shoulders of the individuals, congregations and alumni who have said, “We believe in you and your call, and so we give.”


The amount I give monthly to LTS feels like a small drop in a large bucket—there’s so much need, so many big dreams and so many men and women out there who want to serve the Church. But what I’m learning – cliché though it sounds – is that every drop matters. Without question.


Your drop matters, too. Be it $5 a month or $500 dollars a month, it matters, and it is an investment in the Gospel, a sign that you believe quality theological education matters and that those who want such an education ought to be able to find a path towards it.


There are any number of good, even righteous, causes to invest in, especially at this time of year. More people to help than sometimes even seems possible. I know this. And, still, I ask you to consider a Christmas gift to the Ministerial Education Fund at LTS. No matter the size, that gift will translate directly into helping students prepare for ministry.


Join me, won’t you?


Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may the hope, peace, joy and love of the Christ-child be with you now and always.


A call to conversation

The following message and call to conversation was written by the Rev. April G. Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):

Ferguson GT Verdict Statement

Tomato Aspic

By Julie Richardson

“We’re going to Mrs. Jackson’s house for lunch,” my dad said to my younger sister and me, “and I expect you to be on your best behavior.”

“Um…okay,” was our rather reluctant reply. We’d been residents of Winder, Georgia, for less than a year, uprooted from our happy life in South Texas so our dad could take the position of senior minister of First Christian Church in Winder, and neither my sister or I were really happy or comfortable with the situation yet.

The occasion required Sunday-best clothing (as defined in the Deep South), and our best efforts at manners, not all that hard considering we’d had several years practice being preachers’ kids.

Annie Jackson’s house sat on a main street through small-town Winder, red brick, with white trim and pillars gracing the front porch. There were hardwood floors and a big fireplace and we ate at a formal dining room table.

I remember like it was yesterday and not 25-plus years ago, the first course of that meal at Mrs. Jackson’s: tomato aspic. This odd, and I soon determined disgusting, gelatinous mold of tomato…and maybe meat broth…and spices I couldn’t name. It was cold, and served on a small plate on a leaf of lettuce, and as it was set down in front of me, I remember thinking, “No. Way.”

Of course, “Yes. Way,” because even politely declining wasn’t an option. And somehow my sister and I, we managed.

Years later, I learned that Annie Jackson, and her already-by-then deceased husband Theo, were tremendous financial supporters of both our local Disciples congregation and the wider church. It seems that as a young girl, Annie Jackson had earned extra money for her family by cleaning the church building they lived next to–a Disciples church.

When I showed up as a first-year student at LTS in the fall of 1997, the then-Vice President greeted me with, “Oh yes, you’re from Mrs. Jackson’s church.”

Annie Jackson was also a tremendous supporter of Lexington Theological Seminary, so much so that at her death in the late 1990’s, she left a portion of her estate to the Seminary.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Winder, a long time since I’ve been a student at LTS, and a long time since Annie Jackson died. And so I’d forgotten all this until a few weeks ago. And then, while reviewing past gifts to LTS, I came across “Annie Jackson.” My very first thought was, “Oh! The tomato aspic!”

She’s been on my mind ever since, her memory this thing I’ve tried to capture as I think about how and why individuals and alumni and congregations give to this Seminary; her gift to LTS this thing I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for.

Miss Annie, she made me eat tomato aspic, and I’ll never forget it. But she also, through tremendous generosity, has made it possible for many of us to follow a call to ministry via a theological education at Lexington Theological Seminary.

May we all, each in our own way and within our own means, find ourselves capable of such generosity.

‘Lost in a sermon’

Stephanie Paulsell, the daughter of former LTS President Bill Paulsell, writes about the impact of one of her father’s sermons and the mystery of God in the Faith Matters blog on Christian Century:

Honoring those who’ve journeyed with us

There’s a long list of pastors—men and women—who helped form and nurture and encourage what they saw as a call to ministry beginning to emerge in my life and work. I feel so very fortunate that this is true, especially when I remember that I have colleagues who were discouraged at every turn, and for whom the journey has not been so affirming or life-giving.

John, Dale, Jim, Mary Beth, Bill, Jorge, Michael, Larry Paul, Gary, Linda, Sharon, Russ, Mark—these are the names I celebrate most, though there are certainly more, when I think of the ones that have most made me into the pastor I am today. I speak and write their names with prayerful gratitude.

And I plan to honor them with an extra gift to Lexington Theological Seminary this month—October, the Month of Ministry. And I’d like to invite you to do the same—with your own list of names. Who are the pastors who helped make you a pastor? Who are the men and women clergy who helped you see, “Yes, I am called. Yes, I will go?”

You may give online, via mailed check or via phone—all options are secure, and we welcome your gift no matter the size.

I am grateful for these ones who guided me along the journey, and I am, this Month of the Ministry, grateful for all of you, sisters and brothers in profession and faith. Blessings upon your work and your lives. Know that you are remembered and appreciated by your alma mater.


– Julie Richardson, M.Div.
Advancement Associate

Quick Facts about Lexington Theological Seminary

Preparing Pastoral Leaders for 21st Century Churches

How many students are there at LTS?

Most recent annual headcount is 135, with students hailing from 29 states


Is the Seminary financially healthy?

Yes. The Board of Trustees adopted financial equilibrium and growth as one of four strategic imperatives. This means the Seminary is committed to sound fiscal policies and management to maintain the financial strength of the Seminary’s assets.


How is the new building being received?

Very well by faculty, staff, students and alumni alike—we welcome you for a tour!


How many full-time faculty are there at LTS?



What sorts of classes are being taught at LTS?

What you would expect to see at a graduate theological institution, with a congregationally-centered approach—preaching, worship design, pastoral care, church history, theology, etc.


Are students ever on campus?

Students are on campus for intensive courses in January and June.


What does LTS offer the wider community?

  • Lay School of Theology, church leadership webinars, the Library What new things are happening at LTS?
  • Conversations on Stewardship and Finance, Ministry Life Choices Initiative (read more about both at


How can I best support LTS?

You can be an informed advocate. You can refer students. You can support us financially.


Academic excellence and relevance

Financial equilibrium and growth

Sustaining pastors in ministry

Cultivating a quality place to work and study

(LTS Strategic Imperatives)


Theology on the Border: Dr. Askew to lead trip

Theology on the Border: The United States and Mexico led by Dr. Emily Askew January 30-February 5, 2015

Registration/Deposit deadline: December 15, 2014

Anticipated Cost*: $1500 (includes airfare to Tucson, AZ)

*See student budget breakdown below, which includes tuition for an intensive course

Please join me as we explore what immigration means first hand when we spend seven days on the US/Mexico border at Tucson/Nogales. On this intensive trip you will hear the stories of migration from those who are in the process of crossing or have been deported back, listen to faithful leaders discuss their work with migrants on both sides of the border, walk dirt migrant trails winding through dangerous desert vegetation , experience mass deportation hearings in Federal Court, interview public defenders, dance with migrant children, experience the bitter cold of the desert in winter, sleep on cement floors in migrant shelters, and push yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually in ways you never thought possible. In short you will experience for yourself the complex and painful story of what some refer to as “our national wound”, the US/Mexico border. –Dr. Emily Askew

When I signed up to go to the border I was not sure what to expect. Of course I had read the news and followed the various issues surrounding the border and immigration, but all of that did little to prepare me for what it actually meant to experience it all first hand. I feel a bit at a loss for words when it comes to describing my week living the issues. It is hard to put into words what it feels like to hold “holy trash” or walk the same paths that others have walked in desperation, hoping for a future different from the one they have walked so far to leave behind. I held the hands of young children in Mexico and wondered what my life would have been like had I been born somewhere other than small town America.  –Sarah, LTS student and previous trip participant

LTS Student Intensive Course Budget Breakdown

Tuition: $980.00 ($500 if student is DOC/UCC receiving the denominational scholarship)
Transportation: $750.00 Books & Fees: $750.00 Food Incidentals: $250.00
Est. Student Budget: $2,980.00