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                              Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation is closed anytime Omaha Public Schools are closed

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           Seminary and Foundation History

On February 17, 1891, the Rev. John Gordon of Omaha, Nebraska, and the Rev. Stephen Phelps of Council Bluffs, Iowa, gathered 38 Presbyterian pastors and lay leaders for a meeting to share their dream of establishing a Presbyterian seminary at Omaha, Nebraska. They felt a genuine need for well educated clergy to serve small, rural communities in the Midwest. In May the group presented a proposal for a new seminary in Omaha to the General Assembly and received approval. The Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Omaha opened with six students in September 1891.

The Seminary prepared pastors to serve Presbyterian churches in the Midwest from 1891 until it closed in 1943. More than 1,000 graduates served throughout the Midwest, and some were called to other states or served as missionaries around the world.

As the successor nonprofit organization formed in 1991, the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation uses the investment income generated from the assets to support lifelong learning opportunities for seminary students and clergy. The Foundation's primary focus includes: scholarships to seminarians; support of innovative lifelong learning opportunities such as the Church Adminstration Institute provided through the University of Nebraska-Omaha for ordained clergy; as well as scholarships to ordained clergy and CREs for the annual Omaha Presbyterian Summer Pastors' School each summer on the campus at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. This weeklong event features master theologians who lecture on various topics. Discussion sessions encourage pastors to share their thoughts with their fellow students and their master teacher. Worship services start each day and concludes with a communion service.

Summer school sessions were first hosted by the Seminary at Hollister, Missouri, beginning in 1930. The summer session was designed to give special attention to ministers in small churches in rural communities. These sessions had an average attendance of 55 participants and offered 40 hours of study in its first nine years. The tradition is continued with the shorter weeklong event at Hastings.

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On February 17, 1891, 38 Presbyterian pastors and lay leaders gathered to establish a Presbyterian Seminary in Omaha. They felt a need for educated clergy to serve small, rural communities in the Midwestern United States. [1] Enrolling its first students in September 1891, from 1895 to 1902 the Seminary was located in the former Cozzens House Hotel at 9th and Harney Streets in Downtown Omaha. It was replaced in 1902 when a new facility was built in the Kountze Place suburb of North Omaha. [2] The building was demolished later that year.

In 1901 the Seminary purchased 5 acres (20,000 m2) in Kountze Place for $20,000. Within a year a building was completed that included dormitory rooms, classrooms, offices, a library and a chapel, as well as a dining room, janitor's quarters and other rooms. It was a three story tall gray stone building with high basement windows and a bell tower above the middle section. [3]

In 1909 the University of Omaha was established a few blocks north of the Seminary and most of the teachers were recruited from Seminary faculty. Three of the University's first four presidents were ordained Presbyterian ministers. [4]

In 1943 the general assembly of the United States Presbyterian Church voted to close the seminary after it failed to meet the minimum accreditation standards of the American Association of Theological Schools. [5] More than 1,000 graduates served in the Midwest, other states and around the world. [6]

The seminary's governing board continued to exist for several decades after its closure, and today operates as the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation. After turning the building into an apartment house they became committed to raising funds to support theology students attending schools around the world. [7] [8]

The building was demolished in the 1970s.


Notable alumni

  • Frederick Wedge, Presbyterian pastor, evangelist and educator, who had boxed professionally as "Kid" Wedge


Additional reading

  • Hawley, C.A. (1941) "Fifty Years on the Nebraska Frontier: History of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Omaha," Church History. 10(4) December. pp. 384-38.


 2018 Events

 Winter Pastors' School

Feb 5-8, 2018

Hastings Chapel