What Your Seminary Says About You

Hey there, Reverend. I’ll be honest: I’ve spent three months trying to write one encouraging post about “ministry in the age of coronavirus,” and another about “motivating your church to work for racial justice,” and I just don’t have enough in the tank. Maybe you’ll get those when the pandemic is over. Or when I have child care again. Whichever comes first.

I recently attended a compulsory clergy retreat, on the topic of Finding Your Center During a Global Pandemic. By “attended” I mean I turned off my Zoom video and half-listened through headphones while feeding beans to my toddler and then helping her fit the pig, barn, and chicken pieces into her farm puzzle approximately 1,000 times. I only caught the gist, which I believe was “find your center,” but as I pocketed the rejected pieces of the farm puzzle (sheep, goat, horse, cow, and duck), I thought about the three things that help me center my soul instead of letting it spin around like an unsteady top:

  1. Dwelling in the presence of Jesus, who is the light and hope of my life.
  2. The love of my family and friends, even when transmitted over Zoom.
  3. Dumb jokes.

It is in the spirit of this last item that I present to you the following list. If your seminary is not included, it’s probably because I don’t know enough about it to come up with any sweeping generalizations, but if you mention it in the comments I’ll make one up.

I hope you will take this list in good fun (and perhaps comment to let me know whether I got your seminary right). We’re in this together, Reverend. Hang in there.

What Your Seminary Says About You

Virginia Theological Seminary
You are 27 years old and contemplating your first run for bishop.

Church Divinity School of the Pacific
You own at least one article of clothing made out of hemp.

San Francisco Theological Seminary
You got into CDSP, but hemp makes you itch.

Philadelphia Divinity School
You are old.

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary
You don’t understand why people say the North Shore is out of touch.

Bexley Hall
You don’t really mind that no one has heard of you.

Bexley Seabury
You wanted to go to seminary but you also had other stuff to do, you know?

Calvin Theological Seminary
Your last name begins with a V.

Nashotah House
You are exploring your call toward celibacy.

Pacific School of Religion
You are exploring your call toward polyamory.

University of Chicago Divinity School
You are exploring your call toward getting an unemployable Ph.D.

Episcopal Divinity School (pre-EDS at Union)
You feel most at home in settings that replicate your dysfunctional family of origin.

General Theological Seminary
You have seriously considered pursuing a career as a vestment model.

Episcopal Divinity School (post-EDS at Union)
You don’t care that much about vestments, but you still thought it would be cool to go to seminary in New York.

Union Theological Seminary
You wonder why your friends reach for their drinks every time you say the word “praxis.”

Union Presbyterian Seminary
You are tempted to reach for your own drink every time you say, “No, the other Union.”

Harvard Divinity School
You are Unitarian, or wish you were.

Yale Divinity School
You are Episcopalian, or wish you were.

Berkeley Divinity School at Yale
You took great umbrage at the absence of a separate entry for Berkeley in the first draft of this post.

Andover Newton (pre- or post-Yale)
You’re still not sure whether it’s technically true that you went to Yale.

Catholic Theological Union
You’re not that kind of Catholic.

Mundelein Seminary
You are that kind of Catholic.

Boston University School of Theology
You’re not Catholic. That’s Boston College.

Loyola University Chicago
You’re not Catholic but Loyola gave you pretty good financial aid, so.

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
You believe with all your heart that the Catholic Church will start ordaining women any day now.

Princeton Theological Seminary
You’re not that kind of evangelical.

Portland Seminary
You totally are that kind of evangelical, but you also love trees.

Trinity School for Ministry
You totally are that kind of evangelical. WANNA FIGHT?!?!?!

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
You are not an evangelical. Well, it depends on what you mean by “evangelical.” It’s complicated.

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
You are a former InterVarsity staff worker and have the relentless enthusiasm to prove it.

Episcopal Theological School
You are old.

Northern Seminary
You see no reason not to say you went to seminary in Chicago.

Bangor Theological Seminary
You can ride a moose, but you don’t make a big deal about it.

Moravian Theological Seminary
You no longer bother to correct people who assume you are from Moravia, the country.

United ____________ Seminary
You can’t understand how two financially unstable seminaries managed to consolidate into one equally financially unstable seminary.

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
You really wish people would stop asking you about Ravi Zacharias.

Iliff School of Theology
You really wish people would stop asking you about Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Duke Divinity School
You really wish people would stop asking you about the Traditional Plan.

Asbury Theological Seminary
You really wish people would START asking you about the Traditional Plan.

Luther Seminary
You really wish people would stop mimicking the way you say “about.”

Candler School of Theology at Emory
You have thought long and hard about whether you are an Emily or an Amy.

Wesley Theological Seminary
You believe that roads have middles for a reason.

Lancaster Theological Seminary
You spend a lot of time saying, “No, it’s LANK-uh-stir.”

Perkins School of Theology
You’re not from THAT seminary in Dallas.

Dallas Theological Seminary
You are only aware of one seminary in Dallas.

Columbia Theological Seminary
You have an impeccable wardrobe and a quiet sense of judgment.

School of Theology at Sewanee
You wonder if it would be in poor taste to wear a seersucker alb.

Lutheran School of Theology at Gettysburg
You’re not here for the drama.

Lutheran School of Theology at Philadelphia
You are SO here for the drama.

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
You pronounce each letter of “LGBTQ+” as a separate word.

McCormick Theological Seminary
You feel quietly superior to people who went to LSTC.

Chicago Theological Seminary
You believe that chanting the words “community organizing” counts as community organizing.

Starr King School for the Ministry
You are offended when people assume you believe in God, but also offended when they assume you don’t.

Meadville Lombard Theological School
You spend a lot of time riding public transit.

Vanderbilt Divinity School
You claim to know Amy-Jill Levine personally, even if you don’t.

Brite Divinity School
You are startled by the assumptions people make when they learn that you went to seminary in Fort Worth.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
You have three hobbies: drinking craft beer, discussing craft beer, and thinking up catchy names for worship services held in bars.

Seminary of the Southwest
You spend a lot of time explaining that you went to a real seminary.

Fuller Theological Seminary
You own 18 pairs of flip-flops and an electric guitar.

North Park Theological Seminary
You are Swedish.

Multnomah Biblical Seminary
You are not reading this post.

154 thoughts on “What Your Seminary Says About You

  1. The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology
    After suggesting something about being traumatized by first year practicum a classmate of mine suggested “”I’ve sat in the discomfort of this and I find that it resonates with me.””


    1. You agree that your education was accessible and affordable, but “stimulating” is pushing it a little far.


    1. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I graduated in 1973. I left the Southern Baptist’s to become American Baptist in 1972. I tell folks I just grew up but it was the hypocrisy. They claimed to be the people of the book but were totally prejudiced. Maybe they should have been the people of God instead.


  2. None of the Kansas City schools made your list? Midwestern Theological Seminary, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Nazarene Theological Seminary, St. Paul’s School of Theology?


  3. Perkins? Alyce McKenzie is there but also William Abraham??? I’m a Candler grad. Neither Amy or Emily particularly but definitely Don.


  4. I went to McCormick but I never though much of (as in, I didn’t ever think about) LSTC. Does that count as judgement? 🤔


      1. I went to Catholic Theological Union because I wasn’t that kind of Catholic, and went on to get an unemployable Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. So, yeah. I’m not any kind of Catholic now, but it’s all so true.


  5. Great Post! As a Meadville Lombard graduate, but before it moved to Spertus, I don’t relate to the public transit one–but the Starr King one is right on! thank you for a good laugh today–I thought they were all funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for this great laugh!

    As an HDS grad, I would tweak that one a bit. There is an important (historical and otherwise) distinction between Unitarian, period vs UU. To tweak without completely rewriting the HDS one, it would be better to be something like: “There’s a good chance you are not religious in any way, and/or are uncomfortable talking to people about God. Or else you are Unitarian Universalist, or wish you were.”

    As for Wesley Seminary (where I audited a class), given it’s DC location and liberal / political culture, it would seem more fitting to have something about eagerness to “speak truth to power.”

    Others I would love to see you do:
    -United Theological Seminary (mainline/UM with growing charismatic influence)
    -Andover Newton
    -Liberty (of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s university)


    1. As a fellow HDS grad, I’ll share the note I left for a previous commenter: I think of “Unitarian Universalist” as a religious tradition with a distinct history and polity, and “Unitarian” as a broader descriptor for people who identify with some aspects of inherited Christian tradition but are on uneasy terms with the Trinity. Some of my classmates in this category, but not all, eventually made the leap to the UUA.


      1. Thanks for the reply. That makes sense. Again, this is overall great. Thanks for putting it together!


  7. Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
    Long name, UCC’s go there too but there’s a pontifical seminary down the street and a Lutheran seminary with a building for the Episcopalians actually down in Columbus. But hey, there’s a really cool farm on our campus that’s rapidly being closed in on by modernization and development from all sides.


  8. The CPE supervisors in Boston, during the ’70s when I was there, thought the students that from Episcopal Divinity School (pre Union) came from dysfunctional families where they were victims of social injustice.


  9. Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston IL
    from the days when it was across the street from Garrett (GETS)
    (pre- Seabury Next, pre- Bexley-Seabury)
    (and a Bexley grad might ask you to do the same for them… but I’m a SWTS grad myself!)
    And your other Episco ones sound spot on to me!


    1. You don’t understand why people say the North Shore is out of touch. (I say this only in jest! I am a Chicago native and always wanted to attend SWTS, but I was a few years too late.)


  10. Great list! Suggested addendum to Columbia Theological Seminary: You feel a tad superior for having attended CTS when Walter Brueggemann was on the faculty there – even though he did NOT have an impeccable wardrobe.


  11. Houston Graduate School of Theology
    HGST: you either are not religious at all or you believe fire and brimstone is the cornerstone. Mixed bag theology.


  12. I’m a student at United in Dayton. Yes, it used to be financially unstable. Is it anymore? No. Honestly, there’s lots of really great things happening at United. There’s a whole Holy Spirit movement coming out of the school that you should check out. Not only that, but we really do lead the way in online education compared to the other UMC schools.


    1. I am thrilled to hear this! It’s so exciting to see a seminary find its footing and do great things for Christ and the church.


  13. Ashland Theological Seminary…not that interesting unless you’ve graduated from the Detroit Extension. So intriguing I earned an MA in Theology and an MAPT in Spiritual Formation.


  14. Welling discussing the theological differences between justification and sanctification while drinking dollar Margaritas and eating chips and salsa. Austin Pres Seminary in the mid 80s.


  15. Thank you for making a separate entry for Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. I was that guy who took umbrage at its original omission.


  16. I went to Garrett-Evangelical and I am a conservative evangelical. I tell people that I went to G-ETS but I got over it.


  17. This is hilarious! As a current seminarian ( I’m in the IONA program of the Seminary of the Southwest) slated to take GOEs this January, I ended up here after reading a link to your blog about how to pass the GOEs. Note to self on the GOEs: don’t internet surf, stay on topic. Well, I assume!


    1. That’s a good note to self … let me know if you figure out how to follow your own advice! (I did plenty of internet procrastination during the GOEs and still managed to get through them, so take heart.


  18. Is Episcopal Theological Seminary the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, incidentally my seminary? If so, then ha – and true! Started there at 27, though. 🙂


    1. Nope! Seminary of the Southwest is down near the bottom of the list — it’s such a gem and I’m always surprised that more people haven’t heard of it. You made me realize that I referred incorrectly to Episcopal Theological SCHOOL (not Seminary), which merged with Philadelphia Divinity School in 1974 to form EDS. I’ve corrected it in the post. Thanks for the catch! 🙂


Leave a Reply to Catherine Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s