Through the efforts of Walter B. Hinson, the Portland Baptist Bible Institute
was organized in the winter of 1925. In 1926, efforts began to replace
the Bible Institute with a graduate-level seminary to provide more adequate
theological education in the Northwest. As a result, Western Baptist
Theological Seminary was officially dedicated on October 4, 1927.
The purpose of
the infant institution was reported by the Board of Trustees: “Looking
across the years... we saw coming out of Western Baptist Theological Seminary,
men and women schooled to preach and teach the eternal truths of God’s
Word and the redemptive love and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw
pupils of sound teachers occupying pulpits and mission fields around the
In 1944 the Board of Trustees acquired the present
five-acre campus in Portland, OR. Classes at the new site convened in the
fall of that year.
Western’s presidents have often been noteworthy and
innovative leaders in theological education, including Dr. Earl D. Radmacher
(president from 1965-1989) and Dr. Bert Downs (president from 1998-2008).
Our current president, Dr. Randal Roberts, is a Western alumnus who has
served the seminary in both faculty and administrative roles since 1987.
He is committed to continuing the legacy of doctrinal fidelity and educational
innovation that has been entrusted to him.
Western Seminary has established
a number of highly visible and forward-looking programs. It was one of the
first schools to offer the Doctor
of Ministry degree. In 1981, Western launched
an innovative video instruction program which quickly expanded to serve
hundreds of students per year in study centers across America and overseas.
More recent innovations include a dual-track approach to learning the biblical
languages, cross-registration options for students in the Doctor of Ministry
and Doctor of Missiology programs, an enhanced mentored field ministry program
with unique outcome certification options, and increased scheduling and
delivery system flexibility to make quality theological education more accessible
to students whose circumstances require creative accommodation. To make
residential seminary education accessible to key cities on the West Coast,
Western has also established two degree-granting campuses in Northern California.
In 1985, the San Jose campus launched on the grounds of Calvary Church in
Los Gatos, CA and later moved to a Santa Clara location in 2010. The Sacramento,
CA campus launched on the grounds of Arcade Baptist Church in 1991.