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ETS Seal
Motto For Christ and His Church.
Established 1837
Type Theological Seminary
Endowment $10-Million
President The Rev. Randall T. Ruble, Ph.D.
Dean The Rev. Robert W. Bell, Ph.D.
Vice President The Rev. H. Neely Gaston, D.D. (h.c.)
Faculty 18 full time, 24 part time
Students 450 (unduplicated headcount) [1]
Location Due West, SC, USA
34°19′53″N 82°23′25″W / 34.33139°N 82.39028°W / 34.33139; -82.39028Coordinates: 34°19′53″N 82°23′25″W / 34.33139°N 82.39028°W / 34.33139; -82.39028
Campus Rural
Motto of the host denomination In his light shall we see light.
Colors Maroon, Old Gold          
Affiliations Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, SACS

Erskine Theological Seminary is an institution of graduate theological and pastoral education. The Seminary is based in Due West, South Carolina, United States, and also offers classes at four extension sites in the region: Augusta, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina. It is in the conservative Presbyterian tradition, and primarily prepares candidates for ordained Christian ministry. The Seminary is the graduate arm of Erskine College, a liberal arts college established in 1839, owned by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.



The Seminary was founded in 1837 and was originally named "The Clark and Erskine Seminary." When Erskine College was founded two years later in 1839, the Seminary was incorporated into it. The Seminary became a distinct establishment from Erskine College again in 1858. The two continued as separate institutions until they were once again united under a single president and board in 1925, an arrangement that continues to the present.

The name "Erskine" was taken from Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine. The brothers were notable preachers in Scotland and were among the founders of one of the two Scottish Churches in the roots of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Associate Presbytery. The name "Clark" came from Dr. Thomas Clark. Born in Scotland, Clark was a student of Ebenezer Erskine. In 1764, he migrated to America and after the Revolutionary War, moved to South Carolina, where he became pastor at Cedar Spring and Long Cane Churches.

Ebenezer Erskine Pressly was the first President of Clark and Erskine Seminary.

Erskine Theological Seminary is known for the development of "The Erskine Declaration," which was a proclamation of students enrolled at Erskine declaring that racial segregation was inappropriate for most Christian congregations. It became a pattern for declarations from several other seminary student bodies in the 1980s and 1990s.


Most Seminary functions are housed today in Bowie Divinity Hall, which was dedicated in 1984. The building was funded by a gift of $1-million from Mr. and Mrs W. Parker Bowie of Iva, South Carolina. It houses classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, the McLane Media Center, Bowie Chapel, and lounges for students and faculty.

Alongside Bowie stands McQuiston Hall, the first building at Erskine dedicated exclusively for Seminary operations. McQuiston was constructed in 1938, funded by a gift from Dr. & Mrs. William H. McQuiston of Monticello, Arkansas. McQuiston was renovated in 2004-2005 and today serves as a dormitory. The Seminary's distance learning function is housed in Reid Hall, along with the library's Department of Special Collections and Archives.

Other buildings on the campus of the College and Seminary, such as the McCain Library and Moffatt Dining Hall, house services and resources for both sides of the institution as a whole.

In addition to offerings on the main Seminary campus in Due West, Erskine Seminary offers courses at extension sites in Columbia, Greenville, and Charleston, South Carolina, and in Augusta, Georgia. The Seminary has applied to its accrediting agencies for permission to begin granting degrees at the Columbia site.

Organization and Administration

Erskine Theological Seminary operates together with Erskine College under the leadership of a single president and board of trustees. The current president, Randall T. Ruble announced his retirement effective June 30, 2010, and a search committee to recommend his successor to the Board of Trustees was appointed in September, 2009.[2]

The the day-to-day operation of the Seminary is supervised by an Executive Vice President. The current Executive Vice President is H. Neely Gaston. Gaston, who took office in 2003, is a 1989 graduate of the Seminary and a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.[3] The Dean of the Faculty is Robert W. Bell, also an ARP minister.[4]

The students of the Seminary are organized in a Student Body Association, which provides leadership and services for the students' community life. The president of the Student Body Association, who, along with a vice president, secretary, and treasurer, is elected each year by the students, represents the student body in meetings of the faculty with voice but not vote.

The Seminary's endowment is intermingled with that of the College, which has a total value of about $52-million. Approximately $10-million of the total endowment benefits the Seminary exclusively, primarily in the form of endowed scholarship aid for students.[5]

The eighteen permanent tenured and tenure track faculty members are organized in departments of History and Theology, Bible, and Ministry. Faculty in the department of History and Theology have expertise in patristic and Reformation church history, systematic theology, and the study of Christian ethics. Professors in the Bible department teach courses in Old Testament and New Testament studies. Faculty assigned to the Ministry department teach in the areas of pastoral care, Christian education, and worship, including homiletics.[6]

Erskine is a member institution of the Atlanta Theological Association, which facilitates several forms of collaboration among member seminaries, including cross-registration of students. Executive Vice President Gaston was elected to a two year term as President of the A.T.A. in 2009.


Erskine Seminary is accredited, together with Erskine College, by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, the Seminary is a fully accredited member institution of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.[7]

The Seminary is accredited to award master’s and doctoral degrees, namely, the Master of Arts in Christian Education, Master of Church Music, Master of Arts in Counseling Ministry, Master of Arts in Practical Ministry, Master of Arts in Theological Studies, Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Doctor of Ministry degrees. In addition, the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission has authorized the Seminary to offer instruction in Christian Education, Church Music, Counseling Ministry, Divinity, Ministry, Practical Ministry, Theological Studies, and Theology.[8]

In the 2008-2009 academic year, Erskine Seminary had an unduplicated head count of 450 students. This means 450 individuals registered for at least one course. 162 of these were candidates for the Master of Divinity degree and 96 were in the Doctor of Ministry degree program. 66 were special students, and 47 took regularly scheduled courses for continuing education credit. Most of the remainder were candidates for one of the several Master of Arts degrees, while six were in certificate programs for students who lack a Bachelor's degree.[9]

The student body at Erskine Seminary is made up of members of approximately thirty Christian denominations. In the 2008-2009 academic year, the largest single denominational grouping was made up of Baptists of whom there were about eighty. The second largest denominational group was United Methodist, with 74 students. The next largest group were Associate Reformed Presbyterians, of which there were 67. Other Presbyterian denominations represented in the student body included the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Presbyterian Church in America, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. In addition, there were 10 Episcopal and Anglican students, and 24 students from the African Methodist Episcopal Church. About a quarter of the Seminary's students were women, and thirty percent were African American.[10]

Noted People

John H. Leith (1919-2002), a Presbyterian pastor and theologian, was an alumnus of Erskine College (1940) and took courses at the Seminary during his undergraduate career, before matriculating at Columbia Theological Seminary. Leith was inducted into Erskine's Academic Hall of Fame in 1991.

Thomas G. Long is an alumnus of both Erskine College (1968) and Erskine Theological Seminary (1971).[11] A survey of seminary professors and religion editors conducted by Baylor University in 1996 named Long one of the "twelve most effective preachers" in the English-speaking world.[12]

Hughes Oliphant Old is a member of the faculty and Dean of the Institute for Reformed Worship at Erskine Seminary. Old is the author of fourteen books and many articles and lectures on Christian worship and preaching.


  1. ^ Erskine Theological Seminary Data Book 2009-2010.
  2. ^ Simon, A: "Erskine president Dr. Randall T. Ruble to retire", Greenville News, August 24, 2009.
  3. ^ Ruble, R: Bicentennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church 1950-2003. Grand Rapids: McNaughton & Gunn, 2003. p. 106.
  4. ^ Ruble, R: Bicentennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church 1950-2003. Grand Rapids: McNaughton & Gunn, 2003. p. 22.
  5. ^ Erskine Theological Seminary Data Book 2008-2009.
  6. ^ Erskine Theological Seminary 2009-2010 Catalog, pp. 134-143.
  7. ^ Bulletin of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, vol. 48, 2009.
  8. ^ Erskine Theological Seminary 2009-10 Catalog.
  9. ^ Erskine Theological Seminary Data Book 2009-2010.
  10. ^ Erskine Theological Seminary Data Book 2008-2009.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Woodward, K: "Heard Any Good Sermons Lately?" Newsweek, March 4, 1996. (

For Further Reading

  • King, R: History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Board of Christian Education of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1966.
  • Pittendreigh, M: History of Erskine Theological Seminary 1837-1976, NP, 1980.

External links



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