Superlative libraries

Theological schools are proud of their libraries — and rightly so. Members of the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) manage hundreds of millions of resources including books, databases, denominational papers, and special collections. And these are not the only resources contained within their walls. Treasures held by member libraries range from priceless rare manuscripts to Benjamin Franklin’s confirmation record, and include a 6,000-year-old cuneiform artifact, student dissertations, and even a mummy. Each school makes a particular claim to the “largest,” “oldest,” “most used,” or “most accessible” collection — but really, how can one possibly compare libraries?

Libraries are highly interconnected and request and receive nearly any resource through collaborative arrangements with libraries around the world via interlibrary loan and professional networks. The unique nature of libraries makes it difficult to compare them, but this table identifies the largest theological libraries in North America in order of reported bound volumes for academic year 2008. Books are merely a portion of a library’s holdings, but they do give insight into a library’s size, as they require space and staff to make them accessible.

— Barbara
Director of Member Services

North America's largest theological libraries 2008
By number of books

University-related theological collections

  1. University of Chicago Divinity School 

  2. Calvin Theological Seminary, Calvin College 

  3. Candler School of Theology, Emory University 

  4. St. John’s School of Theology–Seminary, St. John’s University 

  5. Harvard University Divinity School 

  6. Yale University Divinity School 

  7. Bethel Seminary, Bethel University 

  8. Duke University Divinity School 

  9. Barry University 

  10. University of Notre Dame 

Collections at freestanding theological schools

  1. Princeton Theological Seminary 

  2. Union Theological Seminary (New York) 

  3. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 

  4. Graduate Theological Union 

  5. Interdenominational Theological Center 

  6. Fuller Theological Seminary 

  7. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 

  8. Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education (Virginia and North Carolina) 

  9. Asbury Theological Seminary 

  10. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Library data collected by the Association of Theological Schools and reported to the American Theological Library Association.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Southern Baptist institution in Fort Worth, Texas, has broken ground for a new 3,500-seat chapel in the center of the campus. The new chapel will be one of the largest indoor event facilities in Fort Worth, and will host musical performances by the School of Church Music. School officials anticipate a savings of nearly $10 million due to lower steel and construction costs in the current economic climate.

Graduates now have full access to online journals

The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) has announced an initiative to give alumni of its member schools unprecedented access to its online resources. Called “ATLAS for ALUM” and supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the program allows participating schools to offer access to the ATLA Serials (ATLAS) database as a benefit to their graduates. ATLAS is a full-text collection of more than 140 major religion and theology journals selected by leading religion scholars and theologians.

To qualify, a participating school must be a member of both ATLA and the Association of Theological Schools. For more information:

Name change

Church of God Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee, has changed its name to Pentecostal Theological Seminary. The school was founded in 1975 as the Church of God Graduate School of Christian Ministries and is affiliated with the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). The seminary shares library resources with Lee University, another Church of God-affiliated school in the same city. 

Changes at the top

 Thomas Winston Cole Jr.

■ The trustees of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta have appointed Dr. Thomas Winston Cole Jr. as interim president. He replaces Dr. Michael Battle, who stepped down after six years as president when he was named United States ambassador to the African Union.

Cole, the first president of Clark Atlanta University, is a graduate of Wiley College and the University of Chicago. He was president of West Virginia State College and then provost and vice president for academic affairs at Atlanta University. He and his wife, Brenda, live in Atlanta.

The Interdenominational Theological Center is a consortium of historically African-American seminaries. Chartered in 1958, its members include Morehouse School of Religion (Baptist), Gammon Theological Seminary (United Methodist), Turner Theological Seminary (African Methodist Episcopal), Phillips School of Theology (Christian Methodist Episcopal), Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary (Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.]), and Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary (Church of God in Christ). The Lutheran Theological Center of Atlanta also operates on the center’s campus.

 James A. Wehner

■ Father James A. Wehner, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, has been appointed rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum by the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome. He succeeds Msgr. Paul J. Langsfeld, who headed the seminary for six years. 

Father Wehner is a graduate of Duquesne University, the North American College in Rome, and the Gregorian University in Rome. From 2002 to 2008, he was rector of St. Paul Seminary, a college-level seminary in Crafton, Pennsylvania. He also served as director of the office of vocations, the office for the diaconate, and the office for evangelization in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Founded in 1888, Pontifical College Josephinum was placed under the authority of the pope in 1892, and it remains the only “pontifical” seminary outside Italy. The seminary is overseen by the Vatican’s Congregation for Seminaries and Institutes of Study.

 Sara Wenger Shenk

■ The board of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary has named Dr. Sara Wenger Shenk as president of the school. She will succeed interim president George R. Brunk III, who was formerly professor of New Testament at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. The previous president of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, J. Nelson Kraybill, stepped down in July after 12 years at the helm.

Wenger Shenk is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education. She has been a member of the faculty and administration at Eastern Mennonite Seminary since 1995, most recently as associate dean and associate professor of Christian practices. She and her husband, Gerald, have also served as Mennonite missionaries in the former Yugoslavia.

Located in Elkhart, Indiana, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary traces its beginning to 1958, when Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Goshen College Biblical Seminary entered into a cooperative arrangement that eventually led to their incorporation as a single school in 1990.

Gary Peluso-Verdend

■ The Rev. Gary Peluso-Verdend, associate professor of practical theology at Phillips Theological Seminary, has been named as president of the school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He succeeds the Rev. William Tabbernee, who retired at the end of June after 18 years as president. Tabbernee was also Stephen J. England Distinguished Professor of the History of Christianity at the seminary.

Peluso-Verdend was formerly vice president of stewardship at the school. An ordained United Methodist minister, he is a graduate of Carroll College, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and the University of Chicago.

The seminary was founded in 1907 as part of Phillips University, a school in Enid, Oklahoma, that was affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The seminary was incorporated as a separate institution in 1987, and the university subsequently ceased operations. The history of Phillips was highlighted in “Real Estate and Mission,” which appeared on pages 21–23 of the Summer 2008 issue of In Trust.

 Robert Koopmann

■ Benedictine Father Robert Koopmann has been named president of Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He succeeds interim president Dan Whalen, a telecommunications executive and member of the university’s board of regents, who served as interim president for nine months following the resignation of Benedictine Brother Dietrich Reinhart. Reinhart resigned in October 2008 for reasons of health and died two months later of melanoma.

Father Koopmann is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee, the University of Iowa, and Saint John’s University. A professor of music at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University since 1975, he has also studied with the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. He is a concert pianist and has released a number of recordings.

Saint John’s University is a liberal arts school for men founded in 1857. It shares a campus with St. John’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery, and one of its graduate schools is St. John’s School of Theology–Seminary. The university shares a formal partnership with the nearby College of Saint Benedict, a women’s college in St. Joseph, Minnesota.

 Stephen A. Hayner

■ The Rev. Stephen A. Hayner has been appointed president of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He succeeds the Rev. Laura S. Mendenhall, president since 2000, who is now senior philanthropic advisor at the Texas Presbyterian Foundation.

Hayner joined the seminary’s faculty in 2003 and is currently Peachtree Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth. A graduate of Whitman College, Harvard University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, Hayner is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He served as president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for 13 years.

Hayner’s wife, Sharol, is associate pastor for discipleship at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. Together, they have three children and two grandchildren.

Columbia Theological Seminary, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), was founded in 1828.

 Robert E. Reber

■ New leadership has been announced at Bexley Hall, a seminary of the Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Robert E. Reber has been named president pro tempore and the Rev. William Doubleday has been named interim dean.

The two are exercising executive leadership during a period of strategic planning and visioning by the board of trustees. They succeed the Very Rev. John Kevern, who resigned from the seminary this past summer. Kevern joined the faculty of the school in 1992 and began leading the seminary as acting dean in 1996. Named dean in 1997, he also held the seminary’s Eleutheros Cooke Chair of Historical Theology and Church History.

Reber previously served as dean of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, and was a founding director of the Center for Applied Christian Leadership at Methodist Theological Seminary in Delaware, Ohio. He is a graduate of Ohio State University, Boston University, and the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland. He and his wife, Wendy, have two grown children.

Doubleday has served as associate dean and professor of pastoral theology at the seminary since 2006. A graduate of Amherst College and Episcopal Divinity School, he taught for almost 20 years at The General Theological Seminary in New York City.

The smallest of the 11 seminaries of the Episcopal Church, Bexley Hall was founded in 1823. Since 1998 it has been in alliance with Trinity Lutheran Seminary, where Bexley rents a building on the Trinity campus but enrolls its own student body.


The Rev. Michael Sigman, acting president of Evangelical Theological Seminary, has been named president of the school in Myerstown, Pennsylvania. Sigman’s appointment as acting president was announced in the Autumn 2008 issue of In Trust.

The Rev. Paul Martin, interim president of American Baptist Seminary of the West, has been appointed president of the school in Berkeley, California. Martin’s appointment as interim president was announced in the Autumn 2008 issue of In Trust.

Dr. Lynn Jost, acting president of Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, has been appointed president of the school in Fresno, California. Jost’s appointment as acting president was announced in the Spring 2009 issue of In Trust.



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