Seminary and Foundation History
On February 17, 1891, the Rev. John Gordon of Omaha, Nebraska, and the Rev. Stephen Phelps of Council Bluffs,
Iowa, gathered 38 Presbyterian pastors and lay leaders for a meeting to share their dream of establishing a
Presbyterian seminary at Omaha, Nebraska. They felt a genuine need for well educated clergy to serve small,
rural communities in the Midwest. In May the group presented a proposal for a new seminary in Omaha to the
General Assembly and received approval. The Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Omaha opened with six students
in September 1891.
The Seminary prepared pastors to serve Presbyterian churches in the Midwest from 1891 until it
closed in 1943. More than 1,000 graduates served throughout the Midwest, and some were called to other states or
served as missionaries around the world.
As the successor nonprofit organization formed in 1991, the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation
uses the investment income generated from the assets to support lifelong learning opportunities for seminary
students and clergy. The Foundation's primary focus includes: scholarships to seminarians; support of innovative
lifelong learning opportunities such as the Church Adminstration Institute provided through the University of
Nebraska-Omaha for ordained clergy; as well as scholarships to ordained clergy and CREs for the annual Omaha
Presbyterian Summer Pastors' School each summer on the campus at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. This
weeklong event features master theologians who lecture on various topics. Discussion sessions encourage pastors
to share their thoughts with their fellow students and their master teacher. Worship services start each day and
concludes with a communion service.
Summer school sessions were first hosted by the Seminary at Hollister, Missouri, beginning in 1930.
The summer session was designed to give special attention to ministers in small churches in rural communities.
These sessions had an average attendance of 55 participants and offered 40 hours of study in its first nine
years. The tradition is continued with the shorter weeklong event at Hastings.
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On February 17, 1891, 38 Presbyterian pastors and lay leaders
gathered to establish a Presbyterian Seminary in Omaha. They felt a need for educated clergy to serve small, rural communities in the
 Enrolling its first students in September 1891, from 1895 to 1902
the Seminary was located in the former Cozzens House Hotel at 9th and
Harney Streets in Downtown Omaha. It was replaced in 1902
when a new facility was built in the Kountze Place suburb of North Omaha.
 The building was demolished later that year.
In 1901 the Seminary purchased 5 acres (20,000 m2) in Kountze Place for $20,000.
Within a year a building was completed that included dormitory rooms, classrooms, offices, a
library and a chapel, as well as a dining room, janitor's quarters and other rooms. It was a three
story tall gray stone building with high basement windows and a bell tower above the middle
In 1909 the University of Omaha was established
a few blocks north of the Seminary and most of the teachers were recruited from Seminary
faculty. Three of the University's first four presidents were ordained Presbyterian
In 1943 the general assembly of the United States Presbyterian
Church voted to close the seminary after it failed to meet the minimum accreditation standards of the American
Association of Theological Schools.
 More than 1,000 graduates served in the Midwest, other states and
around the world.
The seminary's governing board continued to exist for several decades after its closure, and
today operates as the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation. After turning the building
into an apartment house they became committed to raising funds to support theology students
attending schools around the world.
The building was demolished in the 1970s.
- Frederick Wedge, Presbyterian
pastor, evangelist and educator, who had boxed professionally as "Kid" Wedge
- Hawley, C.A. (1941) "Fifty Years on the Nebraska Frontier: History of the Presbyterian
Theological Seminary at Omaha," Church History. 10(4) December. pp. 384-38.