Press Release

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to Explore Relocating to Diverse Locations in Metro Boston

Move aimed at preserving ability to serve future students, institution’s New England heritage

In a renewed effort to focus on its roots, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, an evangelical seminary of more than 1,400 global students, announced today its intention to leverage the economic value of its main campus. This staged process includes selling significant portions, or all, of its 100+ acre Hamilton campus and exploring facilities in the Metro Boston area.

Continue Reading Read the Latest News

FAQs

When is this happening?

This staged process will take place over the course of about two to three years. The timing will be advised by a transition project manager, the Cabinet, the president, and the Board of Trustees. 

Why is Gordon-Conwell doing this?

Awakened by finances, our pivot toward the future has become an awakening to the nature of our institution’s soul and the mission of our calling. This decision is aimed at reconnecting with our historic roots and ensuring the long-term fiscal health of Gordon-Conwell as we steward our resources well, which you can read more about here. The seminary’s budget is increasingly focused on the maintenance of its Hamilton campus despite more students than ever utilizing other campuses and remote options in lieu of the residential, Hamilton campus experience. This mirrors a shift seen across higher education. Selling part or all of the campus allows us to avert financial trends while funding a new generation of programs, faculty, and scholarships, and connecting us to our urban roots and communities in Boston. This will strengthen our institution. 

Why this pivot?

Under the presidency of Dr. Sunquist, issues of long-term fiscal viability have been a consistent concern and the institution made several adjustments in the last 3 years. A task force of administrators, board members, and consultants was established in early 2022 to determine how Gordon-Conwell can institute a model of theological education with long-term viability. The result of their research determined that small adjustments would not be enough. A major pivot is necessary and the board and administration have established the model described in this announcement. 

Is Gordon-Conwell preparing to close?

No. We made this decision from a strong financial position that allows us to maximize our effectiveness as an institution. This decision places the seminary on a stronger financial footing, creates new opportunities for growth and student development, and ensures the long-term future of Gordon-Conwell. 

Does this represent a fundamental change in the character of Gordon-Conwell?

While Gordon-Conwell’s fundamental mission has never changed, the seminary has renewed itself many times throughout its history, and it will continue to adapt to proclaim the good news of Christ in the decades to come. Theological integrity and Christ-centered community remain the distinctives of our faculty and students as we prepare Christian leaders. That community and that focus on Christ’s mission will remain no matter where our campuses are physically located. 

Who will be making these decisions? / What is the Transition Committee?

The Gordon-Conwell Board of Trustees has oversight for improving and leveraging the economic value of the campus. A transition committee will discern the next steps. The committee consists of a project manager, faculty, and staff—including alumni.

As of September 2022, each member will serve as the chairperson of an ad hoc committee.

  • Project Manager: Kenneth Barnes (MAOT ’89), Mockler-Phillips Professor of Workplace Theology and Business Ethics (Personnel Ad Hoc Committee)
  • Assistant Project Manager: Joy Li
  • Autumn Ridenour, Mockler Associate Professor of Christian Ethics (Library Ad Hoc Committee)
  • Quonekuia Day (MDiv ’04, ThM ’07), Instructor in Old Testament (CUME Ad Hoc Committee)
  • Jana Holiday, Dean of Students and Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology (Student Housing Ad Hoc Committee)
  • Johnny Ching, Director of Operations for Academic Affairs (Staff Offices Ad Hoc Committee)
  • Nicole Rim (MACS ’20), Art Director (Space Planning and Design Ad Hoc Committee)
  • Brian Gardner, Vice President of Advancement (Artifacts Ad Hoc Committee)
  • Alex Koh, Vice President of Strategy and Chief Information Officer (Infrastructure Ad Hoc Committee)

The president will make a recommendation to the board once the transition committee and the Cabinet have done their due diligence in discerning the next steps.

Feedback from the Gordon-Conwell community is important in this process. Our students, staff, and faculty will receive updates on progress and decisions during our internal town hall meetings. Alumni and friends of the seminary will also receive updates. Check this webpage during this process for the most up-to-date information. 

Learn more about this process here

How will this affect future students?

Where future students live may change, but more scholarship money will be available, and tuition will be kept down. 

Are there changes to the sale of the apartments on the Hamilton campus?

Summary: The sale of Buildings A and B will not happen this fall/winter. Be assured that any future agreements will also keep housing stable for campus residents.

__________________

In March 2021, over a year before our decision to Pivot, we announced that we entered into an agreement to sell part or all of the Hamilton apartments because our property is underutilized. Since then, the developer has been in negotiations with the Town of Hamilton about change of use and zoning variances. In October 2022, it was decided that the developer would withdraw their appeal and that the Town and seminary would together secure real estate consultants to provide a cost-benefit analysis and strategy for our 130 Essex St. property.

Therefore, the sale of Buildings A and B will not happen this fall/winter. Be assured that any future agreements will also keep housing stable for campus residents.

It will be a few months before we have updates regarding the assessment and the sale of part or all of the Hamilton campus.

Is the seminary preparing to go entirely remote? / What about community life?

No. There will always be a role and a home at Gordon-Conwell for in-person instruction and rich community life. Indeed, this move represents fantastic new opportunities for students who join us on our distributed Boston campus; we are excited at the possibility to work and pray with churches throughout the city. A new and unique emphasis on community and discipleship is central to this pivot and renewal. 

Will communal residential options be available in Boston?

Current student housing will be unaffected for at least the next few years (read more in “Are there changes to the sale of the apartments?”). We are also exploring housing options for future students in the Metro-Boston area.

Where in Metro Boston will Gordon-Conwell be moving?

We are exploring opportunities for the seminary in Metro Boston. While we do not have exact locations, we plan to have a “nerve center” for students and faculty and also be in a few neighborhoods throughout the city. It is important to us that our homes in Boston provide us with a connection to the cultural and ecclesial diversity of the city’s many unique neighborhoods, in addition to allowing us to maintain a vibrant community life together.

What about faculty and staff at the Hamilton campus?

We intend to keep many operations local to Hamilton/Wenham, and we count on accessible transportation into Boston. Our desire is to continue to have communities in which we work and study together. We will make every effort to assist faculty and staff in making the transition to our Boston facilities as those locations become known. In cases where such a transition is impossible, we will make every effort to assist staff in finding the next step in their career. 

Will Gordon-Conwell only be training students for urban ministry?

No. Gordon-Conwell will always be committed to small towns, urban communities, and people around the globe. 

Is the seminary selling its CUME campus in Roxbury?

No. Our CUME property in Roxbury—and the faculty and staff serving there—will become an even more integral part of Gordon-Conwell’s mission in Boston, nationally, and internationally. CUME will continue to be CUME and offer contexualized urban  theological education.

Gordon-Conwell News & Reflections

Gordon-Conwell Updates

November 11, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Project Update

Letter to the Editor: Public Outreach Key to Plans for Campus

September 30, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Project Update

Joy Li to Support Gordon-Conwell’s Pivot as Assistant Project Manager

July 6, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary • Project Update

Navigating the Early Stages of the Pivot

June 9, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary • Press Release

Dr. Kenneth Barnes Appointed to Lead Gordon-Conwell’s Transition Committee as Project Manager

President’s Reflections

November 22, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Blog

Attentiveness: Pivot Ponderings

October 4, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Blog

Attentiveness: New England

August 2, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Blog

Attentiveness: Won’t You Be My Neighbor

July 12, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Blog

Attentiveness: Big Pivot–Fast and Slow

June 21, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Blog

Attentiveness: It is Only Things

June 7, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Blog

Attentiveness: Lament and Thanksgiving in the Pivot

May 24, 2022 • Gordon-Conwell • Blog

Attentiveness: Partnership in the Pivot

Gordon-Conwell’s Vision

A conversation between President Scott W. Sunquist and Rev. Bishop Claude Alexander, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

In The Media

 July 20, 2022 • Christianity Today • Op-Ed

Pastors Still Need Seminary Degrees

 July 20, 2022 • Christianity Today • Op-Ed

Pastors Still Need Seminary Degrees

June 3, 2022 • Religion News Service • News Article

As religious landscape shifts, reshaped seminaries shed their campuses

May 19, 2022 • Christianity Today • Op-Ed

How Seminary Downsizing Cuts into Community

Selling a residential campus comes at the cost of embodied fellowship.

Response from Dr. Brad Howell

Some thoughts on pivot, community, and the future:

Dr. Sanders has brought up an important issue for the future of theological education in the West. At Gordon-Conwell, we refer to that as being attentive.

Trends in technology, inflation, culture and even demographics are shaping education. But in all fairness, these elements are shaping more than education. Even grabbing a cup coffee with a friend may require a kiosk or an app! But if we are not attentive to one another, we may end up only with coffee … not the friend.

And perhaps that is the concern. Without attentiveness, “online,” “hybrid,” and digitally “networked” educational models are a challenge to embodied community in the pattern of Jesus and His disciples.

A pivot, though, keeps one foot rooted in place. It is an intentional decision to not chase fads but leverage resources to build communities of learners. A commitment to being attentive to the student, attentive to what God is doing in the student’s life, and attentive to what God is doing among a community of students learning together.

Yet, this is not the answer to our future; it is our desire in our current reality. In both our digitally networked model of education AND our in-person courses, spending time before class, fostering learning communities and intentionally making space to meet with students, are all important moments to hold on to.

As we pivot from the countryside to the city, the school faces challenges that are similar to those facing churches, families, and every relational community in a digital world. If we do not make space to be with one another, we will lose each other.

This is the invitation at Gordon-Conwell. We are committed to making the space. We will continue with digital networks AND in-person education.

That is our pivot.

Our invitation is to come, to join with us in shaping the way seminary life is done . . . together.

Dr. Brad Howell
Vice President of Graduate Programs

 


Read more from Dr. Howell on intentional learning communities here.

May 17, 2022 • Christianity Today • News Article

Gordon-Conwell to Sell Main Campus, Move to Boston

After a decade of enrollment decline, leaders began to see the seminary’s biggest financial asset as a liability. They hope relocation could be the big change they need.

Response to CT from Dr. Sunquist

Purpose More than Property:

Gordon-Conwell’s Relocation and Renewal

I want to thank Daniel Silliman for taking the time to ask a diverse range of questions about Gordon-Conwell’s recent decision to steward our property for our future and for our people (“Gordon-Conwell to Sell Main Campus, Move to Boston,” May 17). Driving this decision were two factors: finances (which the article identified clearly), but also our strategic planning process which was completed just six months ago.

This process began by identifying the soul of our institution—our institutional identity and mission. These stem from Gordon-Conwell’s three beginnings: Conwell’s “school” in Philadelphia that endeavored to provide education for those who could not afford it, A.J. Gordon’s Institute in Boston that had a special concern to train future missionaries for Asia and Africa, and our 1969 relocation out of Boston and to our current Hamilton campus. From these roots, we came to better understand our unitive and diverse nature as an Evangelical seminary.

Rather than revising our mission statement or purpose statement in our strategic planning discussions, we focused on vision. We set our sights on the vision of John recorded in Revelation 7. We have summarized this as “Many Languages, One Lamb and No Tears.” These three phrases describe missionary work and racial reconciliation (many languages), the centrality of Jesus Christ (one lamb), and our calling to compassion and justice (no tears). Our relocation back to Boston is meant to enable our faculty and students to better fulfil the vision outlined in these words.

Thus, while this big pivot to Boston was in part necessitated by finances, it has also been directed by vision. The city has always been in Gordon-Conwell, but now Gordon-Conwell will return to the city.

Scott W. Sunquist

May 16, 2022 • Boston Globe • News Article

Gordon-Conwell moving main campus to Boston

May 16, 2022 • Salem News • News Article

Gordon-Conwell announces plan to sell Hamilton campus

Have Questions?

This is an important time for our entire community. Let’s connect you to the right people to answer your questions.

Please use this form if you are a student. 

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please use this form if you are an alumnus or alumna.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please use this form if you are a donor.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please use the form if you are with the media and have an inquiry,

  • What publication/outlet are you reporting for?
  • When will the story be running?
  • What is your deadline?
    MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

If you represent a business (other than media), please submit your inquiry to the Project Manager using this form. You can also submit inquiries and feedback to the Transition Committee about their search for locations in Metro Boston.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.