EDS History

In Spring 2017, Episcopal Divinity School affiliated with Union Theological Seminary, creating EDS at Union. This new partnership allows EDS to continue providing Episcopal theological education within an accredited, degree-granting seminary while carrying forth their long history and mission of dismantling racism and working for social justice.

Episcopal Divinity School resulted from the 1974 merger of Philadelphia Divinity School (1857) and Episcopal Theological School (1867). Both schools were noted for their progressive teaching and innovative pedagogy.

Historically, EDS has been at the forefront in responding theologically to a changing world and changing church. In the 1870s it embraced new approaches to biblical interpretation and ethical discourse in order to admit African Americans as students and as ordained ministers. At the beginning of the 20th century, the School adopted innovative theological pedagogies that allowed students to take a hand in constructing their own curriculum and course of study. In the 1950s it admitted the first woman students; in the 1960s it sent student volunteers to Selma, Alabama to march with Dr. Martin Luther King. In the 1970s it hired as full-time faculty two of the first women ordained as priests of the Episcopal Church.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it pioneered in developing new fields such as Feminist Liberation theologies and Anglican Global and Ecumenical Studies, and provided leadership to help frame some of the most challenging questions including the role of women in the church and the inclusion of LGBT people as students and ministers. In the early 21st century EDS continues this tradition through its work in environmental justice and seeking to understand the critical role of diversity in the world of faith.

Today, EDS offers a bold and expansive vision of inclusion and social justice in the service of preparing students to lead their communities in the face of a changing and unpredictable future. Students at EDS learn flexibility, leadership, cooperation, and creativity—in conversation with the most pressing issues of the day—in order to prepare them to help build a more just society.