History of LTS
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.
Lexington Theological Seminary is the lineal descendant of the Department of Hebrew Literature in Bacon College, founded in 1836. With the rechartering of Bacon College in 1858 under the name of Kentucky University, the biblical department was considerably expanded and renamed the School of Biblical Literature and Moral Sciences.
In 1865 Kentucky University moved from Harrodsburg, Kentucky, to Lexington and merged with Transylvania University on the Transylvania campus. The newly-merged institution was named Kentucky University and retained the name until 1908, when it resumed the charter and name of Transylvania University.
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 College of the Bible occupied buildings on the campus of Kentucky University (Transylvania University) until 1950, when it moved to its present location. The Seminary acquired its own charter in 1878. At its centennial in 1965, The College of the Bible was renamed Lexington Theological Seminary.
Thus three institutions of higher education in Lexington are of the same background: Transylvania University, the University of Kentucky, and Lexington Theological Seminary. Lexington Seminary and Transylvania are members of the Higher Education and Leadership Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
In 1936 the school began requiring a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college for admission, thus becoming strictly a graduate institution. Two years later the Seminary 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. Lexington Theological strives to prepare faithful leaders for the church of Jesus Christ, and, thus, to strengthen the church’s participation in God’s mission for the world.