Our History | The Interdenominational Theological Center

Our History

Our History

The Interdenominational Theological Center is a Christian, ecumenical, graduate professional school of theology and one of the most significant ventures in theological education in America. It was chartered in 1958 through the mutual efforts of four denominational seminaries: Baptist School of Theology (then Morehouse School of Religion), Gammon Theological Seminary, Turner Theological Seminary, and Phillips School of Theology, came together to form one school of theology in cooperation as an ecumenical cluster and were later joined by two additional schools, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary. The Center’s actualization was greatly helped by some magnificent grants from philanthropic foundations, especially the Sealantic Fund and the General Education Board. The ITC has been accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada since 1960 and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since October 1984.

The Absalom Jones Theological Institute became a part of The ITC following the unanimous endorsement of the Episcopal Church’s Board for Theological Education and Seminary Deans on March 30, 1971. The proposal for affiliation was submitted by the Reverend Robert A. Bennett for the Directors of the Union of Black Episcopalians. The Seminary was named to honor the first African American ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. The program proved to be too expensive for the small number of African Americans in training and the Seminary closed in 1979.

The ITC has always welcomed persons across denominations and faiths expressing an interest in theological preparation for service in the Church and accepts students with connections to denominations beyond its six affiliate seminary denominations through the Harry V. and Selma T. Richardson Ecumenical Fellowship, named in tribute to its founding president.

ITC faculty members are chosen both for scholarly competence and for teaching ability. They constitute an outstanding group among the seminaries of the nation. The faculty personifies quality scholarship, rigorous academic discipline, and significant research in the service of the church and other communities in the world. Both the administration and faculty create a spiritual environment in which critical thinking, investigation, reflection, evaluation, communication, decision-making, and responsible action are fostered.  They challenge all students to become involved in the problems which affect the human spirit;  to become active on behalf of both the academic community and the community beyond the campus to develop an appreciation for the disciplines that contribute to theological resources in an ethically responsible fashion; and to maintain continuous development of the intellect, spirit, and skills required for spiritual growth. The faculty-student ratio is very favorable, insuring small classes and individual attention with an opportunity for flexibility in instruction.

During its 55-year history, the institution has experienced tremendous growth under the administration of eight presidents. Dr. Harry V. Richardson served as the first president of the Interdenominational Theological Center from 1959 to 1968. Dr. Oswald P. Bronson served as president from 1968 to 1975. Dr. Grant S. Shockley became president in January of 1976 and served until the end of December 1979. Dr. James Deotis Roberts became president in August 1980 and served until April 1983. Dr. James H. Costen became president in December 1983 and served through June 1997. Dr. Robert Michael Franklin became president in July 1997 and served to June 2002. During the search for his successor, Dr. Oliver Haney, Jr. served as Interim President for one year.  Dr. Michael A. Battle was appointed president in September 2003 and served for six years, until August 2009.  Dr. Thomas Cole was Interim President during the 2009-2010 academic year. On September 1, 2010, Dr. Ronald E. Peters became ITC’s eighth president.  As of January 2013, Dr. Edward P. Wimberly was appointed Interim President.

The ITC is located on a ten-acre plot in the heart of the Atlanta University Center. The site is a generous gift of Atlanta University. The buildings and all other facilities are modern, providing every resource for effective instruction and comfortable living. The Center is under the direction of a forty-five member Board of Trustees. Twenty-four of the trustees come from the six participating schools. The remaining twenty-one trustees are fifteen members-at-large chosen without regard to denominational affiliation; two alumni representatives, two faculty representatives, and two student representatives. The trustees employ the faculty and administration, set institutional policies, and oversee the management of the physical and financial resources of the Center.