Summary of JCSTS' Past and Present
JOHNSON C. SMITH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY (JCSTS) is the only historically Black theological seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA). It dates back to 1867 and the founding of Freedman's College of North Carolina-a school created specifically to educate newly freed slaves. The Charlotte-based institution subsequently was named Biddle Memorial Institute, graduating its first class of three in 1872. In 1923, Mrs. Jane Berry Smith of Pittsburgh, PA, generously endowed the institution and constructed several buildings on the 75-acre campus in honor of her late husband, Johnson C. Smith, for whom the institution was then named.
In 1969, facing declining enrollment, the seminary withdrew from the university and relocated to Atlanta, GA, where it joined the federation of historic African-American Protestant seminaries known as the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). Following the move, JCSTS grew steadily reaching a peak enrollment of nearly 60 students and producing a cadre of notable leaders who serve the Church nationally and internationally.
In 2014, amid dramatic shifts in the leadership needs of the Church, JCSTS disaffiliated from the ITC with an eye toward delivering educational programs that are more affordable, accessible for a broad audience, and relevant in a changing world. An institution born of the Black Church, JCSTS remains committed to advancing the healing and liberating gospel of Jesus Christ among people from all walks of life.
For a more detailed account the of the seminary's history, go to the About tab and click on the History tab from the drop down menu.
Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary has a 4 million dollar endowment managed by the Presbyterian Foundation, and a $700,000 annual budget.
JCSTS offers customizable, competency-based theological education specializing in (1) African-American worship, preaching, and sacred arts; (2) clergy wellness and sustainability; and (3) social justice and activism. For more information, click the 'Programs' tab.