Attentiveness: Staying in Hamilton - Gordon Conwell

Attentiveness: Staying in Hamilton

Gordon-Conwell is not moving to downtown Boston.

Gordon-Conwell will remain at our original residential location at 130 Essex Street in South Hamilton. Students can continue to move to the Hamilton campus, enjoy a residential seminary experience, and do Life Together.

Gordon-Conwell will pay off all debt and increase endowment.

This is part of what it looks like to “Pivot” toward the future. There is much more to this picture, of course, but after years of research, consulting, prayer, and work with the town of Hamilton and a real estate agent, “the market has spoken.” Selling only our underutilized apartments will make it possible for us to (finally) see a way forward for future flourishing and even have a greater impact on our students and the Kingdom than we have had in the past. Gordon-Conwell has a stable financial future, and we are staying on our iconic property in Essex County and continuing to provide ample student housing.

Much has changed regarding the direction of the “Pivot” in the past few years. Two years ago, in May 2022, we announced that we were selling part or all of the 130 Essex Street property to put our financial house in order. At that time, we were looking to move to another property in New England, preferably in downtown Boston with easy access by public transportation. We spent close to a year looking at properties to lease and rehabilitate to become a fully urban campus.

Two things happened in the intervening years that thwarted this intention. First, the final cost of rehabbing buildings in Boston to fit our academic and community needs would have been counterproductive to our goal. Second, the value of our own apartments increased dramatically. This meant we did not have to sell all of the Hamilton campus but only a highly lucrative portion of it that is underutilized. The real estate market helped us determine our next steps, and we are grateful to God for where we have landed.

So, what then is the value of “property” for a theological school? It is less necessary these days for a seminary to have vast landholdings because so much of higher education is offered online or through digital networks. Yet, Gordon-Conwell remains committed to providing an excellent in-person, residential theological education such as is exemplified in our Life Together model. At the same time and in keeping with the legacies of our esteemed founders (Gordon and Conwell), our commitment to the city remains as strong as ever, as evidenced in our Campus for Urban Ministerial Education. We likewise remain committed to the signature elements of our strategic plan.[1] Our priorities outlined in the May 2022 announcement,[2] with the values and commitments expressed therein, remain robust.

In the coming months more announcements will be forthcoming. But for now, we pause and give thanks to God, as thanksgiving is the foundation of the Christian life. So I say, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Last fall I memorized Psalm 126 because it spoke to my soul at that time. It continues to reassure and guide me today with thoughts of thanksgiving, Christian witness to the nations, and joy! May it likewise reassure you.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
and we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like watercourses in the Negeb!
May those who sow in tears,
reap with shouts of joy!
He that goes forth weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
Shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

[1] These include: Magnify High Academic Standards, Deepen Spiritual & Character Formation, Extend Global, Missional Engagement, Establish Sustainable Operations.
[2] Read “Partnership in the Pivot.”

Dr. Scott W. Sunquist, President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, is author of the “Attentiveness” blog. He welcomes comments, responses, and good ideas.


Subscribe to President Sunquist's Attentiveness Blog