In 2014, the North American Lutheran Seminary became a reality. Together with Trinity School for Ministry, the North American Lutheran Church launched its own seminary to help serve the needs of this growing denomination.
Since then, the NALS has grown steadily, welcoming two full-time faculty members as well as four adjuncts who teach in conjunction with the entire faculty of Trinity School for Ministry. Our presence on campus at Trinity enables us all to benefit from the breadth of theological thought that comes from housing the three magisterial streams of the Protestant Reformation—Lutheran, Anglican, and Presbyterian—together in fellowship and study.
We rejoice in our calling to serve the NALC and the broader church by shaping the next generation of church leaders, providing academically rigorous, biblically sound, and affordable theological education—for the sake of Christ and his church.
Continue reading to learn about the detailed history of the North American Lutheran Seminary.
When the North American Lutheran Church was officially organized in 2010, students were encouraged to attend a seminary of their own choice.
It quickly became apparent, however, that the NALC needed to have its own seminary so that future pastors might be educated more consistently and in accordance with the NALC’s doctrinal positions.
Two events occurred early on to confirm this direction. One was a gift of one million dollars from Tom and Sandy Smith for the NALC, 40 percent of which was designated for theological education. The second was the formation of a theological center at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. This theological center included NALC seminarians from Southern Seminary, with three faculty members who formerly taught at Southern.
In 2012, the NALC Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine recommended that a task force on theological education be named to consider the formation of a seminary for the NALC. The executive council approved this recommendation, and the task force began its work with Dr. Roy Harrisville, III as chair.
The Task Force recommended this design for theological education: Placing a seminary center at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and houses of studies at various locations throughout North America. The design recommended two houses of studies initially, one at Trinity School for Ministry and a second at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
The 2013 convocation adopted these recommendations and authorized a special campaign throughout the church to raise at least one million dollars for the effort.
Following the convocation, the executive council appointed an interim Board of Regents with bishop emeritus Paull Spring as chair. The House of Studies at Gordon-Conwell was officially inaugurated in October 2013 with Dr. Mary Havens as director and with Dr. David Yeago and Dr. Lamontte Luker as adjunct faculty. The Rev. Dr. Amy Schifrin was named as President of the North American Lutheran Seminary and director for the seminary center at Trinity School for Ministry.
At its 2014 convocation, the NALC elected a Board of Regents for the seminary. Dr. Schifrin was installed as seminary president in October 2014, and Dr. David Yeago was installed as a full professor at Trinity School for Ministry.
Following a series of consultations, the Board decided in 2015 to transfer the House of Studies in Charlotte, North Carolina, from the North American Lutheran Seminary to a Department of Lutheran Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Mary Havens served as director and faculty for this department.
In 2017 the Board adopted a strategic plan for the seminary. This document envisions significant increases in student enrollment for the next five years. The strategic plan also provides encouragement for the formation of extension centers and houses of studies as part of the seminary design. Currently, the seminary is developing a series of degree arrangements with several church-related colleges regarding pre-theological studies.
The seminary has experienced consistent and generous financial support from the NALC, from its congregations and individual members. The NALC has designated the month of May as “seminary month,” during which special donations are solicited from all NALC congregations. For each of the past three years, NALC congregations have contributed more than $100,000 for the work of the seminary through this campaign.