Chicago Theological Seminary is an affiliated seminary of the United Church of Christ. For over 160 years, we have educated future leaders for a multitude of ministries. Since our beginning, CTS has pushed at the growing boundaries of the church in order to make our faith relevant and transform our society towards greater justice. Our student body now represents more than 40 different faith traditions, perspectives and denominations.
Since its inception, CTS has lived on the edge – literally and figuratively. Established in the boomtown of Chicago in 1855, the Seminary's first mission was to train church leaders on what was then America's western boundary. Throughout our history CTS has been a leader in theological education, social justice, and societal transformation.
- CTS faculty and students participated in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War.
- In our very first curriculum in 1855, CTS required students to combine theory and practice, action and reflection by serving in churches and mission settings across the Midwest. In doing so, CTS created the first field education component ever introduced into a seminary curriculum in the US.
- As immigration increased in the center of the country, CTS promoted relevance and inclusivity by teaching theology and Bible courses in other languages.
- In 1902, eighteen years before women received the right to vote in the US, CTS was the first seminary to award a degree in divinity to a woman.
- CTS faculty member Anton Boisen worked to equip a group of CTS students to minister more effectively to the physically, mentally and emotionally ill. These experiences would later lead to the founding of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) in 1930.
- CTS was involved in various activities and efforts to advance the cause of Civil Rights. In 1957, CTS became the first seminary in America to award the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for his activism in the Civil Rights movement.
- In 1965, CTS president Howard Schomer, along with CTS faculty and students, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, marched along side Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama.
- President C. Shelby Rooks led CTS from 1974 to 1984, and was the first African American to lead a predominantly white theological school.
- During the ’80s, CTS was engaged in the anti- Apartheid movement and pushing for divestment of resources from South Africa. In 1986, CTS awarded Archbishop Desmond Tutu an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for his transformational activism against Apartheid in South Africa.
- In 2006, CTS established our LGBTQ Religious Studies Center, a theological think tank and resource for activists deeply involved with moving toward greater justice, to encourage new conversations and offer hope.
- In 2009, CTS became the only free-standing Protestant seminary to endow a chair in Jewish Studies, advancing interfaith engagement and multi-faith education.