Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Where Were They Educated?

In Presbyterian Church in America on 27/09/2011 at 16:32

A question sometimes comes up regarding the theological education of the founding pastors of the Presbyterian Church in America. Working from a list of 180 pastors, as found in the Minutes of the First General Assembly, the following list indicates where these men were educated. Of those 180, 172 were educated at seminaries; for 8 no indication has been found of a seminary education and this raises the question of whether those 8 were ordained under the extraordinary clause.
Following each school name, the following dates indicate years of graduation. Concluding this list is a statistical summary.

5 – Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, attending there in 1929, 1939, 1942, 1951, 1953.
2 – Biblical Seminary [New York], 1961, 1963
83 – Columbia Theological Seminary, 1934-1970
2 – Dallas Theological Seminary, 1937, 1941
3 – Erskine Theological Seminary, 1953, 1966
2 – Faith Theological Seminary, 1948, 1955
3 – Fuller Theological Seminary, 1953, 56, 59
2 – Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, 1953, 1970
1 – Grace Theological Seminary, 1970
2 – Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 1942, 1955
1 – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 1965
1 – Northwestern Evangelical Seminary, 1938
1 – Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary, 1951
2 – Princeton Theological Seminary, 1928, 1954
1 – Reformed Episcopal Seminary, 1952
35 – Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS 1969-1973
1 – Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, 1957
1 – Toronto Bible College 1948
13 – Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA, 1919-1968
15 – Westminster Theological Seminary, 1929-1972
1 – WTNC [Western Tennessee College?], 1934
8 – College only indicated [e.g., James R. Graham, Wheaton College, 1939]

By comparing some of the above dates, it becomes clear that as soon as RTS opened up [Fall of 1966], students soon began going there instead of to Columbia. Some appear to have finished at Columbia rather than transfer, while others did transfer mid-program. It may also be noteworthy that the entire group of RTS graduates would have been among the youngest pastors in the new denomination. Alumni from UTSVA and Westminster were about equal in number among the founding fathers. The remaining number were scattered among another eighteen schools.

Statistically then, the founding pastors of the PCA graduated from the following schools:
46.1% – Columbia
19.4% – RTS Jackson
8.3% – WTS
7.22% – UTSVA
14.4% – Other

4.4% – no seminary education indicated in the record [ordained under the extraordinary clause?]

[There may be some small error in the above calculations, but the numbers are at least fairly close.]

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  1. Now if you can find where they went to college. I bet Belhaven figures large (though certainly not as large as Columbia did).

    • That college information is also available, in the PCA Yearbook. Just wasn’t on my radar in this instance. And yes, Belhaven did figure prominently.

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