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About Us

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Main Building and Smith Tower

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is deeply committed to being a servant seminary that prepares bold spiritual leaders who are public theologians. We seek to bring values and faith commitments to bear in the public square for the common good and for the purpose of making a transformative impact in the church, the academy, and the world.

- President Lallene J. Rector

Founded in 1853, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary serves the church, the academy, and the world by preparing public theologians and scholars. We equip our students to proclaim the good news of the Gospel, to foster deep spirituality in the lives of others, to serve with cultural competence and commitment to racial equity, and to lead transformative change for the wellbeing of all persons and creation.

Located on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, Garrett-Evangelical offers rigorous, intellectually challenging academics paired with a commitment to intentional spiritual formation that trains the mind, body, and spirit. Through a diverse curriculum students are stretched theologically and exposed to new models of ministry that equips them for ministry in the 21st century.

Mission Statement

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is a graduate theological school that prepares skilled, bold and articulate leaders who share the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Related to the United Methodist Church, with an ecumenical and international reach, we prepare leaders who are equipped to live and proclaim the Gospel and to teach in diverse congregations and educational settings. Our teaching and learning settings will be places of hospitality where we pursue respect and reconciliation in all encounters.


Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary does not discriminate, or permit discrimination by any member of its community against any individual, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, genetic information, or any other classification prohibited by law in admissions, recruitment, financial aid, employment, housing, services, or in its educational programs or activities.

Race, Diversity, and Inclusion

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has a history of social justice and commitment to women and the Black church experience. Through the 1920s merger between Garrett Biblical Institute and the Chicago Training school, the scope of Garrett’s vision for training Christian leaders expanded to include leaders of church-based institutions for the betterment of social conditions and significant numbers of women. 

Although Garrett Biblical Institute had African American students from as early as the 1880s, the racial and ethnic diversity of the institution increased notably from the 1950s. The service of Dr. Grant Shockley marked the inclusion of African American faculty members, and the seminary began to work deliberately to attract African American students and faculty members. In the 1970s, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience was founded at Garrett-Evangelical to empower and train persons to be prophetic “leaders of leaders” for the African American religious community and society-at-large.

In 1974, Garrett-Evangelical formally affirmed three institutional commitments:

  • church and the Black experience
  • women and ministry
  • peace and justice

Since that time, additional institutional commitments were created to address the changing needs of the culture and of the student body. We continue to establish centers, including the Asian/Asian American Ministries Center and the Hispanic-Latinx Center, and institutes, such as the Rueben P. Job Institute for Spiritual Formation and the Styberg Preaching Institute, to enrich seminary life, to allow students, faculty, and the church to interact in programs of mutual interest, and to bring new perspectives to the community.

Race, Diversity, and Inclusivity Today
In our current Strategic Plan, we made Race, Diversity, and Inclusivity a priority at Garrett-Evangelical with our goal to ensure we are equitable, just, and inclusive in our relationships with the variety of diversity we encounter (e.g., racial, ethnic, cultural, age, sexual orientation, disability) within our community and in the surrounding community. 

As a part of this work, we partnered with the YWCA of Evanston to perform a Racial Equity and Diversity Inclusion Audit at Garrett-Evangelical. We received the survey results and shared them with faculty, staff, students, and trustees.

Most recently, we are working with Morten Group to use the Racial Equity and Diversity Inclusion Audit results, other seminary documents, and a representative team of faculty, staff, and students to help draft a community statement naming, celebrating, and affirming the variety of different persons we encounter at the seminary and continue to challenge the seminary in its commitment to grow and serve all persons equally and justly. This statement will help inform the training needed to help us be the kind of institution we aspire to be. The Morten Group will also help the seminary form a standing Race, Diversity, and Inclusivity Team with a representative group of faculty, staff, students, and trustees with oversight to systematically address race, diversity, and inclusivity matters at Garrett-Evangelical.

As part of this work, the Board of Trustees affirmed our legal anti-discrimination statement. This statement now appears on our website and in faculty, employee, and student handbooks, as well as on applications and other important documents. 

LGBTQ+ Inclusivity
Running parallel to this work there has been special attention given to our LGBTQ+ inclusivity on campus.

The Board of Trustees affirmed the purpose statement of Sacred Worth, a Garrett-Evangelical student LGBTQ+ and allies group, which reads as follows:
Sacred Worth at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is a student group that seeks to advocate for the dignity, rights, and issues of the LGBTQ+ communities and their allies. It is a place of fellowship and support for all persons. We affirm that all persons are of sacred worth, created in the image of God. Every effort is made to recognize the rights of all people and to celebrate each person regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Garrett-Evangelical worked with two consultants who led Circle of Trust® conversations with faculty, staff, students, and trustees on the topic of LGBTQ+ inclusive welcome. Our Board of Trustees affirmed the five recommendations for LGBTQ+ inclusive welcome. In short, the five recommendations were: 1) Pursue curricular and co-curricular changes; 2) Offer coaching, mentoring and vocational counseling for students, particularly those on an UMC ordination track; 3) Commission a task force (comprised of faculty, students, trustees, and staff) to identify specific areas for policy and structural change at the Seminary, 4) Re-examine the 1997 trustees and faculty statements; and 5) Consider how the seminary would “go public” with this statement.

Based on the Board of Trustees affirmations, these action items were included in our current Strategic Plan and a team of faculty, staff, students, and trustees was assembled and continues its work today. The purpose of the team is to review the five recommendations from the Circles of Trust® conversations, to research and propose potential actions, to seek, when needed, approval from the appropriate constituency (faculty, staff, students, leadership team, trustees), and take action.

This team continues to address the action items stemming from the five recommendations.  We have completed many actions stemming from the first three recommendations.  Recommendation four will be addressed through our work with Morten Group to create a community statement that will be added to our faculty, employee, and student handbooks and our website. Since we will make this statement public, we will have responded to recommendation 5. 

2016-2021 Strategic Plan

Garrett-Evangelical is a servant seminary dedicated to preparing spiritually grounded and prophetic leaders for the church, the world, and the academy who are well equipped to:

  1. Proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a religiously pluralistic world;
  2. Guide others in a life of deep spiritual formation and commitment;
  3. Serve with culturally sensitive competence;
  4. Collaborate as public theologians for the wellbeing of all persons and creation;
  5. Lead transformative change for the sake of community and the global world.

We are sensitive to the changing landscape of theological education. These are exciting and challenging times that are truly historic in terms of the innovation necessary to respond to the shifting needs of the church and the world. In October 2015, the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan was approved by our Board of Trustees with this in mind. All of our strategies require sustained attention to embody our call as a servant seminary to the church, the world, and the academy, to attract students, and to provide relevant and robust theological education in this century. Follow the link below to read the Strategic Plan of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

2016-2021 Strategic Plan