Columbia Theological Seminary
Columbia Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian school located in Decatur, has provided theological education and spiritual instruction in the Reformed theology of Calvinism to thousands of ministers, missionaries, teachers, and laypeople. Columbia Theological Seminary is one of ten seminaries owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The seminary was founded in Lexington in 1828 and moved to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1830. In 1927 the seminary again moved, to Decatur, in order to better serve the growing population of Georgia and the Southeast. It has since grown, under the leadership of presidents Richard T. Gillespie, J. McDowell Richards, C. Benton Kline, J. Davison Philips, and Douglas W. Oldenburg. In 2000 Laura Mendenhall became president.
The Columbia Theological Seminary campus on Columbia Drive occupies fifty-seven acres. Among its facilities are dormitories, a refectory, a chapel, a library, the Harrington Center for Continuing Education, classrooms, and administrative buildings.
Degree programs at the seminary include the master of divinity, master of arts in theological studies, doctor of educational ministry, doctor of ministry, master of theology, and the doctor of theology. The master of divinity degree prepares students to serve as pastors and missionaries. The doctor of ministry degree gives advanced training to pastors currently serving in churches or other ministries. The master and doctor of theology degrees prepare future teachers.
The student body is quite diverse and includes students from various cultural and professional backgrounds who hold undergraduate and graduate degrees in many subjects. The majority of Columbia's 500 students are Presbyterian.
From 1993 to 2007 the seminary housed the Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics (later the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility), a center for promoting ethical leadership and business integrity. In 2007 the center moved to the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
The seminary's graduates have become well known as ministers, teachers, and leaders. Nineteenth-century alumni founded colleges, orphanages, and schools; produced tracts and treatises; and wrote histories of many places, including locations in Africa and Asia. Alumnus James Lyman Merrick was tutor to the Prince of Persia at Tabriz (in modern-day Iran) and later taught oriental languages at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
A well-known alumnus is Peter Marshall (class of 1931). Upon graduation he pastored the Covington
Two recent graduates of Columbia Theological Seminary, Murphy Davis (1974) and Ed Loring (1966), founded the Open Door Community, an organization that provides assistance both to the homeless community in Atlanta and to prisoners in the state of Georgia.
Louis C. La Motte, Colored Light: The Story of the Influence of Columbia Theological Seminary, 1828-1936 (Richmond, Va.: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1937).
J. Davison Philips, Time of Blessing, Time of Hope: Columbia Theological Seminary, 1976-1986 ([Decatur, Ga.]: Columbia Theological Seminary, 1994).
J. McDowell Richards, As I Remember It: Columbia Theological Seminary, 1932-1971 (Decatur, Ga.: CTS Press, 1985).
A. J. L. Waskey, Dalton State College
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.