September 28: Where Were They Educated?

If you will pardon a bit of a digression today, the 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.
Numerically, most of the PCA’s founding fathers had attended Columbia Theological Seminary, where Manford George Gutzke and William Childs Robinson were on the faculty. These two stalwart conservative professors effectively mentored those who would become the future leaders of the denomination. Westminster Theological Seminary was something of a draw for confessional students, but I’ve come across some mention of resistance to hiring pastors who had graduated from a “Yankee” school. 

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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