Memphis Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian Cumberland seminary based in Memphis , Tennessee. While affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Cumberland, it welcomes and trains ministerial candidates from other denominations, too. In addition to the typical Master of Divinity (MDiv), Memphis Theological Seminary also gives degrees of Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM), Master of Arts in Youth Ministry (MAYM), and Doctor of Theology (DMin). It also administers the System of Alternative Studies or PAS for the Cumberland Presbyterian church.
MTS is a continuation of the Presbyterian Theological School in Cumberland. It had been relocated to Memphis from Bethel College campus (now Bethel University) in McKenzie, Tennessee.
Rev. Jody Hill is the President. The seminar is accredited by the United States and Canadian Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges and Schools. The seminar is also accepted by the United Methodist Church University Senate to teach students in United Methodist Theology.
The seminar is located at the intersection of Union Avenue and East Parkway in Midtown Memphis, across town from the Cumberland Presbyterian Center in Cordova, Tennessee.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has maintained theological education throughout its history. As early as 1821, one of its members, Rev. Finis Ewing, founded a school for candidates for the McGee Presbytery ministry in his home in New Lebanon, Cooper County, Missouri. It is believed that this was the first theological school west of the Mississippi River. The Rev. David McLin founded a similar school for ministry candidates in Illinois about 1824.
In 1852, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church General Assembly formed a Theological Department as Lebanon, Tennessee, at Cumberland University. A Theological Department was founded at Bethel College, then located in McLemoresville, Tennessee, shortly before this action was taken. The Department of Theology at Bethel continued to work until the Civil War was disrupted. The endowment of the School of Theology at Cumberland University was the cornerstone of this seminary ‘s reorganization in 1908.
In 1907, in order to meet the need for an educational institution of the church ministers, the General Assembly formed a committee of five to negotiate with the Bethel College trustees and faculty, then located at McKenzie, Tennessee, to create a temporary theological school in connection with the college. Arrangements for such a school were completed in July 1908, and Rev. P.F. Johnson was elected Dean. The Theological Seminary Board of Trustees was formally organized on 5 May 1911.
In 1922, the three boards dealing with the Church’s educational interest and the Education Board, the Bethel College Board of Trustees, and the Theological Seminary Board of Trustees were united into one board known as the Cumberland Presbyterian Education Board. The seminary was a branch of Bethel College from 1923 until 1956. The General Assembly made the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary a separate entity in 1956, and placed it under a new Trustees’ Board.
In 1962, the General Assembly approved a Board of Trustees suggestion that the seminary be moved to Memphis , Tennessee. In 1964 the Assembly changed the name of the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church’s Memphis Theological Seminary. The relocation took place during the summer of 1964, and in September 1964, the seminary opened its doors at Memphis. Cumberland Hall was dedicated in 1988 to provide additional space for faculty offices, classrooms, and lounge areas. Then in the fall of 2003 the carriage house was remodeled allowing for additional office, and conference space and a newly remodeled student lounge. The carriage house was named the Brown – Shannon Hall in honor of Mr. Ed Shannon and Dr. Paul B. Brown.
During the seminary’s first years in Memphis, the area of its service to the church and the Memphis community was gradually expanded. The seminar has continued to expand in faculty and staff attendance, size and diversity, library collections, facilities and financial resources, and has gained growing recognition for its theological education program.
This top school is located in beautiful Memphis, Tennessee, along with these other educational institutions you shouldn’t miss:
- Baptist College of Health Sciences
- Belhaven University
- Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
- Christian Brothers University
- Harding School of Theology
- LeyMoyne – Owen College
- Memphis College of Art
- University of Memphis
These amazing universities are located just down the street from our location at South Third Street across from The Southgate Shopping Center. Stop by for a visit anytime!