The mission of Urbana Theological Seminary is to provide graduate theological education which prepares people for Christian ministry and leadership, equipping them to love, know, and serve God.
The Mission statement provides a clear and concrete description of our work. As a school we offer graduate theological education, which means that the training we provide is in the disciplines needed for Christian service and leadership, such as Biblical Studies, Theology, Church History, and Ministry. A greater maturity is expected on the part of our students, who are highly motivated to learn, do advanced research to discover knowledge, and gain the tools and resources to become mature Christian thinkers. Our basic aim is to ready people to serve Christ in a wide variety of ministry and leadership roles. This education engages the entirety of the student’s being—calling on them first to fulfill the greatest commandment, to love God; then to know Him and the Scriptures more profoundly. This process culminates in a life that follows Christ into the church and the world to love one’s neighbor and serve God.
Urbana Seminary will seek to serve God and his eternal purposes by providing an education that will be academically excellent, faithful to Scripture, missional, and student-focused.
The Vision statement provides a broader context for what we want to accomplish and the qualities for which we will become known as a seminary. We desire to serve God and fit in with his eternal purposes to bring people into covenant relationship with himself. We conceive of our work in terms of the Kingdom of God and the church of Jesus Christ around the globe. As an interdenominational ministry we affirm the unity of the church around the world comprised of all those with faith in Christ. God is at work in many different contexts and is not limited by human boundaries.
An Urbana Seminary education will be academically excellent. Our objective is to be known as a center of Christian learning of the highest quality in our teaching, research, and student services. We envision a theological curriculum that integrates faithful reliance on the Scripture as our authority with God’s mission in the world and how the church is called to fulfill that mission. The programs of study will challenge students to think as Christians, to pursue advanced research, and to apply their knowledge amidst the rapidly changing currents of contemporary society.
An Urbana Seminary education will be faithful to Scripture. Urbana Seminary is grounded firmly in the historic Christian faith revealed in the Bible. The Old and New Testaments are our authority for belief and life. Our aim is both personal grasp of God’s message in the Scriptures and obedience to his mission in the world. Along with this understanding of truth we seek to develop each student’s abilities to clearly and passionately explain the intention of the Bible in all of its depth and richness.
An Urbana Seminary education will be missional. We will glorify God through participation in the fulfillment of God’s mission for the church in the world. A missional approach to education trains students for new realities of ministry as contemporary western culture becomes increasingly Post-Christian. Students need the proper tools to interact with what is effectively a new mission field, based on Jesus’ instructions in John 17 that just as the Father sent him into the world, so he is sending his disciples into the world as well. A missional approach to education will also train students from many different backgrounds who will serve God in a variety of diverse contexts and roles around the world, each striving towards the completion of the Lord’s overarching purpose to bring a great throng of people “from every nation, tribe, people, and language” (Revelation 7:9) to worship and serve him.
An Urbana Seminary education will be student focused. We desire that each individual student would love God more deeply, know his truth more profoundly, and apply it daily. Each student should know what he or she believes and why, should have the tools and resources needed for ministry, and be able to provide biblical responses to the rapidly changing culture of our world. We demonstrate this priority on students through accessible professors, quality student services, flexible curriculum, and maintaining lower tuition rates.
- Urbana Seminary will offer a Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Arts in Religion degree that are academically excellent and faithful to Scripture.
- Urbana Seminary will engage the entirety of the student’s being, seeking to facilitate spiritual growth by addressing holistic issues of formation.
- Urbana Seminary will foster interaction between Christian traditions, defined and bounded by a deep commitment to the gospel and Scripture.
Appreciative of the traditions of Christian churches over the centuries, we allow for a breadth of thought and exploration within theological bounds. The following statement expresses our core of theological commitments.
There is one God, eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - all-knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere. God’s character is one of perfect holiness, justice and love. He is the world’s creator, sustainer, and ruler.
Jesus Christ is God the Son, fully divine and fully human. He was conceived by the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead. He is the Messiah anticipated in the Old Testament and brings the fulfillment of all God’s promises. Christ is the only way to salvation. Now He has been exalted to the throne of heaven. He will personally return to the earth to fully establish His rule and kingdom.
The Holy Spirit is fully divine. He calls people to a relationship with the Father, and reveals and glorifies Christ. The Spirit indwells every believer as a teacher, guide, and advocate. He empowers believers for service to God and the church, as well as to reach the world.
The Bible is the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, teaching truth in all that it affirms. The Bible reveals God’s plan of salvation.
People were created by God in God’s image and are deeply valued and loved by God. Humans have sinned and, as a result, are eternally separated from God. God graciously invites each individual to enter a covenant relationship with Him through personal faith in Christ as Savior. Salvation is therefore through Christ alone. God calls the believer to pursue a holy life, as well as delight in and serve God. When Christ returns the believer will be raised from the dead and spend eternity in God’s presence.
The church is comprised of those from all the ages who have saving faith in Jesus Christ. God has entrusted the church on earth, manifested in local congregations, with the joy of worshiping him and edifying its members. He calls believers to the task of teaching and maintaining the truth, witnessing and service to the world, making disciples of all nations, and enjoying His presence as He dwells among them.
Scripture Is The Bottom Line.
Urbana Seminary is grounded firmly in the historic Christian faith revealed in the Bible. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are our authority for belief and living.
Tools for the future.
An education at Urbana Seminary equips the student with the resources needed for ministry in the years ahead. Each individual should know what he or she believes and why, and be able to provide biblical responses to the rapidly changing culture of our world.
We put students first.
We desire that each student would love God more deeply, know His truth more profoundly, and apply it daily. We demonstrate this commitment through accessible professors, flexible curriculum, and student-professor interaction.
Since our students are often preparing for ministry, we don't want to saddle them with debt. Therefore, we strive to keep tuition low to be accessible for everyone. Two of the ways we do this are avoiding unnecessary administrative overhead, and creating agreements with local churches to hold our classes in their buildings instead of building our own. A quick comparison between our tuition and those of other seminaries in the state of Illinois will show the difference that this makes.
Traditional Classroom Presence.
We believe that learning happens best in a face-to-face environment. We also believe that the presence of teachers and students in the same physical space and time is best not only for learning, but also for spiritual growth and community-building. The physical classroom more appropriately reflects the reality of the incarnation. Therefore, while some of our classes do have online elements, our classes primarily occur in person.
Our diversity mirrors the kingdom.
Urbana Seminary is an interdenominational school, training students from many different backgrounds who will serve in varied settings. We also have students of a wide variety of ages and cultural backgrounds. Our Seminary community reflects the uniqueness of its members who unite with the one purpose of serving God. We value open dialogue as our students sharpen one another.
Location, location, location.Urbana Seminary is strategically located in Central Illinois. Accessible from all the major cities in the region, Champaign-Urbana is the home of a major research university and is a crossroads for the diversity of global culture. It is ideal for the thousands of students that graduate each year from the area’s many universities, and for those who are already settled in secure employment. The small town, neighborly atmosphere provides a relaxed environment for learning and opportunities to represent a Christian world view.
Urbana Theological Seminary traces its roots to the founding of the Christian Studies Center in 1994. A group of people representing a broad cross-section of evangelical churches and para-church ministries in the Champaign-Urbana area came together with a shared vision to bring seminary training to east central Illinois. At that time a contract was forged with a Chicago area seminary to offer courses. In the spring of 1994 the Board of the Christian Studies Center called Dr. Kenneth Cuffey to become the founding Director of the ministry. The first classes were offered in the Fall semester of that year. From 1994 through 2000, the ministry grew as people enrolled in a variety of graduate seminary classes.
In 2001, sensing that our location was strategic and that there was interest in doing something more extensive, the Board adopted a new vision for entering the new century and voted to seek approval and accreditation to operate as a stand-alone school. As the seminary began to receive funding from generous individuals and supportive churches, a faculty and staff began to gather. In November 2002 the Board chose the name Urbana Theological Seminary to denote this new effort. At the end of 2003 all links with other graduate schools for credit were ended and the seminary became fully a stand-alone entity. This allowed Urbana Seminary to focus on establishing its programs and assuring their highest quality.
In 2004 the Seminary dedicated its suite of offices and space for library at 314 E. Daniel Street in Champaign and created a position for Librarian. The Seminary Library entered into a mutual use agreement with the local University Library. On April 5, 2005, the Illinois Board of Higher Education granted the Seminary Operating Authority. That same year an initial group of students completed their Certificates. In 2006 the Seminary expanded with the addition of more faculty and staff and submitted its next application to the Board of Higher Education. During 2007, the Seminary personnel and Board launched a revision and updating of the mission and vision of the school as part of designing a strategic plan for the future. The Seminary completed the state approvals process when it received Degree-Granting Authority from the Illinois Board of Higher Education on December 4, 2007.
Grateful for God’s hand in launching the Seminary, and acknowledging the generous support of those who have prayed for our people and given to support the work, Urbana Seminary held its first annual Founders Day celebration in April of 2009. In the fall of 2009 the Seminary began a process to seek accreditation and was granted Applicant Status in February of 2010. Today the school offers classes leading to a Master of Divinity, a Master of Arts in Religion, and a Graduate Certificate of Christian Studies, as well as several undergraduate courses through a collaborative arrangement. A growing group of alumni serve in positions from Illinois to central Asia.
Welcome to Urbana Theological Seminary on behalf of the Board of Trustees. You may be visiting this site because of curiosity, maybe a slipped mouse click, or maybe because you want to know how your life fits into a larger plan. It was no accident that you found us, and I am already praying that you find here what you are seeking. I can't tell you how exciting it is to be part of a seminary like this one, whose faculty and staff show such a passion for sharing the Good News. Every effort is made to keep costs down and courses convenient so that many can have a chance to attend. Try us out, tell your friends about us, and get ready for the adventure of your life. God has a plan for you.
-Skip Binch, former Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Urbana Theological Seminary is governed by a Board of Trustees, which provides guidance, offers wisdom, and helps formulate policy. The Board members, led by the President, are the guardians of the mission and vision of the school. Urbana Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees is made up of a cross-section of our constituencies. Regular meetings are scheduled three times a year. Some of our board’s members are in full time ministry, while others are professors and professionals.
Those who prepare people for Christian ministry and leadership, equipping them to love, know and serve God.
Faculty of Urbana Theological Seminary teach the classes which provide equipping for our students. A list is provided of our full-time faculty, as well as the lecturers and adjuncts.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education approves Urbana Theological Seminary to operate and grant the Master of Arts in Religion and the Master of Divinity degrees. The school is developing all programs and policies to be aligned with the criteria of both regional and professional accreditation agencies.
Urbana Theological Seminary exists to strengthen the church. The Seminary expresses this heart for building up laypersons and their congregations through several tangible ministries.
On any given Sunday faculty of the Seminary and students trained in preaching can be found in the pulpits of churches in the region. Our people delight to help through providing relief for those times when pastors are out of town or for some reason unable to be preach. It is our desire that our faculty will have an impact on the person in the pew as a means of encouraging the congregations. A call to the office (217-365-9005) or an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your dates and request will allow us to match our resources with your need. The available pool includes both faculty members and students who have completed their first course in Preaching.
Speakers for Retreats and Training Opportunities
Urbana Theological Seminary’s faculties are available to speak at retreats and other training opportunities for your ministry. Call the office (217-365-9005) or send an e-mail to email@example.com with your dates and the nature of your event.
Community Outreach Ministry
For more information about Community Outreach and its events, to be put on the e-mail list to receive notification of upcoming events, or to schedule an event for your church or for a parachurch ministry contact the Urbana Seminary office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-365-9005.
What is a Seminary?
The word “seminary” developed from the Middle English term for a seed plot, a nursery in which to cultivate plants. Though we use the word today to denote a theological school, offering academic training in disciplines which prepare persons for ministry, the origins provide a helpful picture. A seminary is a place to cultivate and nurture people. A seminary provides the environment which facilitates growth and development so that the graduate will be mature in Christ and ready for the work of ministry which lies ahead.
Not only does a seminary invest in the lives of its students in order to equip a new generation of leaders and servants for the cause of Christ around the globe, but also affords the place in which to nurture ideas. A seminary is an ideal environment for research and enquiry into questions related to the theological and ministry disciplines, as well as reflection on the ways in which varied other disciplines can be integrated around Christian faith.
So what is a seminary? A seminary is a school, usually offering courses, credits, and degrees on the Master’s level. The special focus is on teaching and research in the theological disciplines, such as Bible, Church History, Theology, Ethics, and Apologetics, as well as the disciplines of personal spiritual formation and practical ministry, such as counseling, preaching/communication, mission, Christian education, discipleship, leadership, cultural exegesis, worship, pastoral care, and campus ministry. The goal of seminary preparation is to bring students closer to God and to equip them to serve God in active ministry.
At the outset it should be stated that there are certain things that a seminary is not. A seminary cannot guarantee that its graduates will possess flawless character, that’s up to the individual. Nor does attending seminary assure you of having an effective ministry. A seminary does not take the place of the local church. Every seminary student, just like everyone else, needs to have healthy interpersonal relationships with people in a local congregation, that allows for involvement in ongoing ministry and for the formation of mentoring or discipling relationships. A seminary is not the only means by which God raises up leaders. He certainly blesses the ministry of some who have little formal ministerial training. A seminary is not a hospital. A school will not usually provide healing and direction. These roles are more properly assumed by the local church. A seminary is not a three year long non-stop Bible conference with inspiring speakers, stirring music, challenge and emotions on a high level—a seminary offers a graduate academic degree program that is rigorous and exacting. Nor can a seminary prepare you for every eventuality and question which you will face. Only God really knows the future and how our rapidly changing culture will develop.
So what is a seminary then? What good is it? Do I really need an education from one?
A seminary provides tools for the task of ministry.
Seminary equips you with the tools you’ll need in coming years to be able to serve God and minister for him. It’s painful to try to drive a nail into a board with the palm of your hand. You don’t have the right tool—you need a hammer, then it becomes easy and doesn’t hurt. Seminary is like that hammer. Seminary provides you with the tools you need to do the job God is calling you to do. Seminary education equips you so that you will not be caught unprepared. A seminary education exposes the student to a broad sweep of disciplines and resources that will prove useful in ministering to others in contemporary culture. It lays a foundation of knowledge—about God’s Word, God, his working, our faith, and our responses—that the person serving God can draw on for years to come. Seminary also acquaints the student with practical issues of ministry with people, teaching and refining skills to impact the lives of others.
A seminary is far-reaching in its impact.
Like the pebble dropped into the pond, which causes waves to spread outward from the center, seminary is truly a Kingdom ministry. The seminary is an arm of the church that advances the reign of God (his kingdom) in this world, calling its own people to submit to his lordship and preparing them to lead others into relationship with the Creator. A seminary plays a significant role in the spread of the good news about Jesus Christ through a niche ministry of preparing leaders for the future. A seminary has a part in the greatest cause which will change the world in the final analysis. It is never easy to measure the impact of a people-oriented ministry such as this. How can you quantify the way in which God will use an individual over the next 50 years? Or measure the impact and influence of building redemptive relationships? One seminary-trained person can be transformed spiritually within as a result of theological education. That in itself is worth the investment. That one person will then minister to hundreds, likely thousands, of other individuals. Multiply this by many persons in a seminary at the same time, many more over the years to come, and you can begin to get a sense that in ministry impact seminary education is one of the best ways for the church to invest resources and build for the future.