San Francisco Theological Seminary

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San Francisco Theological Seminary
AffiliationPresbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
PresidentJames L. McDonald
Location, ,
37°58′11″N 122°33′56″W / 37.96972°N 122.56556°W / 37.96972; -122.56556[1]Coordinates: 37°58′11″N 122°33′56″W / 37.96972°N 122.56556°W / 37.96972; -122.56556[1]
CampusSuburban, 14 acres
AffiliationsGraduate Theological Union University of California, Berkeley

The San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) is an American graduate school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) located in San Anselmo, California. The seminary was a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, the largest consortium of graduate schools and seminaries in the United States.

Through its membership in the GTU, SFTS students have access to the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library and enjoy many opportunities to learn from and engage with religious traditions outside of the Reformed tradition. Additionally, students at SFTS are privy to the academic resources at the University of California, Berkeley.


San Francisco Theological Seminary

San Francisco pastor William Anderson Scott opened two Presbyterian schools in his churches in the mid-19th century, the second of which became the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

In 1871, SFTS began with four professors and four students meeting for instruction at the Presbyterian City College located in what now is Union Square. Six years later, the seminary moved to its own building next to the City College building on Haight Street.

The seminary moved in 1890 to a 14-acre (57,000 m2) hilltop site in Marin County about 15 miles (24 km) north of the Golden Gate Bridge. A new charter issued in 1900 gave the seminary power to grant degrees, and jurisdiction over the seminary was transferred from the synod to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1913.

In the post World War II era under its president, Jesse Hays Baird, SFTS enjoyed unprecedented expansion, with enrollment increasing to more than 300 and new buildings rising all over the San Anselmo campus.

SFTS joined in 1962 with neighboring graduate schools and academic centers in founding the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. The GTU developed joint M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in cooperation with the graduate school at the University of California Berkeley.

In 1990, SFTS opened its second campus in Pasadena, which was housed in the Pasadena Presbyterian Church. Due to seminary budget cuts, the board of trustees voted to close the Pasadena campus in February 2011. However, despite the announced closure, the seminary continued to consider alternative opportunities to expand their programs in Southern California.

In February 2019, SFTS announced its intention to become part of the University of Redlands, based in Southern California's Inland Empire region.[2]


The Rev. James L. McDonald is the 11th president in the San Francisco Theological Seminary's history. An ordained Presbyterian minister, for around 13 years he worked for Bread for the World, a faith-based advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. that urges national legislators to end hunger. He managed day-to-day operations, spearheaded fund-raising, and focused on advocacy and strategic efforts to build a broad movement against hunger and poverty. With a PhD in international relations from American University, McDonald led efforts to secure debt relief for the world's poorest countries. After receiving Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees from Princeton University and Union Theological Seminary in New York, respectively, McDonald worked in pastoral ministry for 15 years. He was associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, Indiana, and then served Tabernacle United Church in Philadelphia from 1980 to 1990. Throughout his career, McDonald has shown a deep passion for education that makes a difference. He was an adjunct faculty member at American and George Washington universities for nearly a decade, teaching courses on world politics, foreign policy and Latin America.

Current faculty[edit]

Teresa Chavez Sauceda, Director, Advanced Pastoral Studies, Associate Professor of Ministry

Jana Childers, Dean of the Seminary and Professor of Homiletics and Speech Communication

Wendy Farley, Professor of Christian Spirituality and Director of the program in Christian Spirituality

Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education and Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Education

Gregory Love, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Yolanda Norton, Assistant Professor of Old Testament

Christopher Ocker, Professor of Church History/ Affiliated Professor at the University of California Berkeley

Eugene Park, Dana and Dave Dornsife Professor of New Testament

Research Professors[edit]

John Berquist, Visiting Professor of Old Testament

Robert Coote, Senior Research Professor of Hebrew Exegesis and Old Testament

Elizabeth Liebert, Professor of Spiritual Life

Marcia McFee, Ford Fellow, SFTS Center for Innovation in Ministry

Lewis Rambo, Senior Research Professor of Psychology and Religion

Carol Robb, Senior Research Professor of Christian Social Ethics

Judy Yates Siker, Research Professor

Academic affiliations[edit]

Graduate Theological Union Berkeley: Through GTU schools and centers, SFTS students can relate to wider communities within Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. SFTS students enjoy free and open cross-registration with all GTU member institutions.

University of California Berkeley: Through Graduate Theological Union agreements, SFTS students enjoy free cross-registration for UC Berkeley courses and the use of the university’s research and performing arts centers, its nearly 100 library collections and approximately 80 museum collections.

Academic information[edit]

Degree programs at San Francisco Theological Seminary include:

SFTS offers graduate-level diplomas:

  • Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction
  • Diploma in Spiritual Formation Studies
  • Diploma in Advanced Pastoral Studies
  • Diploma in Executive Leadership

SFTs also offers certificate programs:

  • Certificate in Trauma & Spiritual Care
  • Certificate in Worship Leadership
  • Certificate in Advanced Pastoral Studies

In conjunction with the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California Berkeley, students can also earn the following degrees:


Field Education - The Department of Field Education and Integrative Studies assists M. Div students in finding their place of ministry. From the Introduction to Ministry taught in the first year, through year-long supervised internships, students experience first-hand, practical applications of theoretical learning.

Program in Christian Spirituality – PCS offers diploma programs in spiritual direction and spiritual formation; a doctor of ministry degree in spirituality; a spirituality concentration in the master of divinity program; plus pastoral renewal opportunities.

Program in Advanced Pastoral Studies - APS provides experienced ministers and laypeople additional training at an advanced, or doctoral, level. This includes the Doctor of Ministry, Diploma in Advanced Pastoral Studies, Diploma in Executive Leadership, and summer continuing education courses.

Some SFTS graduates[edit]

Notable faculty members[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: San Francisco Theological Seminary
  2. ^ Rodriguez, Adrian. "San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo merges with Southern California-based University of Redlands". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 27 February 2019.

External links[edit]