BST at 150

As we begin this new school year, we begin it with much anticipation and excitement! We are grateful for the largest incoming class in many years. Above all, this year begins our 150th year serving God, the church, and the world offering theological education that has literally impacted thousands across the street and around the world. We have chosen as our Anniversary motto: A Faithful Presence: BST at 150 based upon Psalm 100:5. Psalm 100 is taken from a prayer book of a cloud of witnesses, now recited over and over some 3000 years. Psalm 100 is titled, “a Thanksgiving Song,” the only psalm in the whole collection to bear this title. Psalm 100 sings of God’s goodness, steadfast love, and faithful presence from generation to generation. And so, will we sing of God’s faithful presence in a series of events and opportunities to share your support throughout this coming year.

For BST, that faithful presence stretches back 150 years to our beginnings and even before that, when CA was still a territory of Mexico (1844). In sending Osgood Church Wheeler and Elisabeth Hamilton Wheeler to this region, who sailed from NYC by way of Panama to SF, education of indigenous and other pioneers was part of their missionary mandate from American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS). Those early dreams were waylaid until 1863 when the first educational convention of the new American Baptist association was held in San Francisco. Berkeley School of Theology traces its lineage to the same visionary spirit of ABHMS that was also establishing educational institutions for men and women freed from slavery and Native Americans seeking education. Indeed, an early president of Berkeley School of Theology was one of four ministers to preach at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral (1865), while another Baptist educator would soon become the eighth president of UC Berkeley just down the road. Colleges like Morehouse, Spelman, Ottawa, and Bacone College, along with Berkeley School of Theology, were all established by ABHMS in the spirit of liberty and justice for all. That is part of the BST spiritual DNA, whether we have always lived up to its full visionary realities or not. It is still very much a part of our vision of who we want to be today and going forward.

Berkeley School of Theology was chartered in 1871 as California College. The pioneering and innovative spirit of its founders has guided it through a series of transformations and name changes throughout its 150-year history. As one of California’s earliest colleges, the school was first located in Vacaville and then moved to Oakland in 1887. In 1912, California College relocated to Berkeley, changing its name to Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (BBDS). Three years later this school merged with the Pacific Coast Baptist Theological Seminary, which had begun instruction in 1890 at the First Baptist Church of Oakland and had moved to Berkeley in 1904. For the next fifty-three years (1915-1968), the school carried the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School name, even as it merged once again with California Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) in Southern California. CBTS had been founded in 1944 at Temple Baptist Church in Los Angeles, later moving to Covina in 1951. In 1968, the new two-campus institution was renamed American Baptist Seminary of the West. Not long thereafter, the Southern California CBTS faculty joined the faculty in Berkeley (1974) where, together, they could share in the resources of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU). In December of 2019, the Board of ABSW, after a ten-year process of study and deliberation, changed the name of the institution to Berkeley School of Theology, to reflect its expansive mission.

We have so much for which to thank God for, not least of which is to be part of this historic institution. As the old hymn sings it so well, “Since love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can we keep from singing?”

BST Celebrates Alum Dr. Leona Bridges National Nomination

Last month President Joe Biden announced 5 nominees for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, among them Dr. Leona Bridges, BST alum (‘15), long serving former Board of Trustees member, and current chair of the Audit Committee. This nomination from President Biden is pending confirmation from the U.S. Senate at a later date.

Dr. Bridges has previously held similar positions for the City of San Francisco and the State of California. We are so very thankful for Dr. Bridges’ leadership not only at BST but now for our country. Congratulations Dr. Bridges!

BST Announces the Donald P. Jordan Endowed Scholarship Fund

We wish to express deep gratitude to BST alum, Donald P. Jordan, class of 1966, and his wife Diana Sincler, for their planned giving bequest of cash and securities to establish the Donald P. Jordan Endowed Scholarship Fund. Upon distribution, this scholarship will directly benefit students with demonstrated financial need for many years to come.

Don came to the seminary from a small town in Southeast Ohio with barely “two nickels to rub together” and received a scholarship to help pay for his training. “It is my desire to ‘pay it forward,’” Don says, “by helping students in need in this way.” Don shares that his life was enriched by his seminary experience saying, “This seminary has been a blessing to my life long after I was a student there. What I learned academically and how I grew spiritually while a student blessed me throughout my career as a professional United Way Executive (CEO) in several different cities in the Midwest.”

In making this bequest as part of their will, Don and Diana, join many others who have ensured the success of BST and its many graduates for the past150 years and for many still to come. They wish to inspire others blessed by their seminary experience to consider passing on that blessing through estate planning and planned giving opportunities established by BST. For more information about the benefits of a planned gift or to speak to a BST representative, please contact us today at or 510-841-1905.

BST Mourns the Passing of Alum Amy Pearson

Berkeley School of Theology is deeply saddened to hear of the recent death of Amy Pearson, M.Div class of 1998. Amy, and her husband Matt Henry (‘99) served in the Pacific Northwest for many years, most recently in Pendleton, OR. Amy had a significant impact on many lives throughout her ministry and will be deeply missed. We offer our prayers and deepest condolences to her husband Matt and all of her loved ones.

Prayer for Afghanistan and other tragedies

In the midst of the recent humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, widespread devastation on the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Ida, the tragic wildfires in Northern California, and the ongoing upheaval in Haiti we offer prayers of comfort and help for all of those affected. May God ease suffering and provide relief to all who are in need. BST is currently working with fellow GTU Schools to develop an avenue for providing support and relief for the Afghani people and will share that information as it becomes available.

Fast Track to An Accredited Degree with BST’s Training in Christian Leadership Programs

BST’s Training in Christian Leadership programs (TCL) are designed to provide a fast track to an accredited master’s degree in leadership training for church and community. The programs are three-tiered, beginning with a 6 course Certificate in Community Leadership (CCL) training that builds toward a 20 course BA Equivalency Certificate (BCL), that then builds toward an accredited Master’s Degree (MCL or MDiv). Courses for BST certificates are offered at a reduced tuition price and are scheduled to meet the needs of the working student. Click here to learn more about our TCL program.

BST Merchandise Available Now!

Show your Berkeley School of Theology spirit with the latest offerings from the BST Online Store! Chose from a variety of products in multiple designs and colors to best fit your own personal style! How will you rep BST? Check out the latest selections here!

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