There’s a beautiful building that I drive by just about every day. Built back in 1912, the converted three-story mansion sits on five acres and strikingly stands out on the corner of East Parkway and Union Avenue, as the home of Memphis Theological Seminary. As impressive as the building is on the outside, though, the personal transformations that have been taking place for more than fifty years on the inside are even more remarkable.
Memphis Theological Seminary is an ecumenical graduate school of theology that moved from McKenzie, Tennessee to the Mid-South back in 1964 with the purpose of educating and serving men and women of all races and denominations. The school averages approximately 350 students from 29 different denominations. Studies are wide ranging, including a Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Youth Ministry, Doctor of Ministry with a focus on Theology and Arts, and a Drug Alcohol Addiction Counseling Certificate Program.
Students are both young and young at heart, ranging from age 21 to 83; and they come from the Mid-South, as far as the United Kingdom, Africa, Asia, and South America. Alumni are now serving on every continent, except Antarctica, and one is a Grammy award winner, as well.
When the school opened here in 1964, it was extremely rare to serve ALL races and denominations. Among the first African American students to enroll at the seminary was Rev. Dr. Henry Logan Starks, a local minister who became active in local civil and human rights issues, including the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the city. Upon his graduation from the school in 1969, Starks became the seminary’s first African American professor and served until his death in 1985.
As a part of Stark’s legacy, Memphis Theological Seminary is hosting its 29th Annual Henry Logan Starks Scholarship and Awards Dinner on Thursday, February 11 at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis. The event will highlight their Ministry for the Real World Campaign and the guest speaker will be Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author and Historian John Meacham. Proceeds benefit the Henry Logan Starks Scholarship Endowment Fund, so it’s a perfect opportunity to give back while learning more about faith’s role in civil rights, then and now. Learn more and purchase tickets at MemphisSeminary.edu.