North Central College - Naperville, IL

150 Moments: Evangelical Theological Seminary

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Evangelical Theological Seminary chapel service, Koten Chapel
Evangelical Theological Seminary chapel service, Koten Chapel

North Central College and Evangelical Theological Seminary, formerly the Union Biblical Institute, shared campus space and spiritual heritage from the College's earliest days in Naperville. 

Incorporated in 1873, the Union Biblical Institute (UBI) began holding classes on North Central College’s campus in 1876, renting space in Old Main for a nominal fee. The Evangelical Association started UBI as a training ground for its pastors, missionaries and church workers.

In 1908, UBI purchased property at the corner of School and Loomis streets, just north of the College. In 1912, the house was moved to the corner of Wright and School streets and served for many years as a residence for seminary students, remaining today as a private home.

Construction began immediately on a new building to house the Evangelical Theological Seminary (ETS); the name changed from Union Biblical Institute in 1909. For many decades, the ETS building (Kiekhofer Hall) housed all functions of the seminary, including classroom, worship, library and faculty offices. Additional buildings, including Seybert and Kimmel residence halls, and a new Academic Center were added to the ETS facilities.

In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church. As a result, North Central became one of 143 colleges, universities and seminaries affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The merger resulted in two separate seminaries in the Chicago area—an impractical arrangement for the recently merged churches.

In 1974, the seminaries merged to become Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and ETS relocated to the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In 1976-1977, North Central College was able to act on its option to purchase the four former seminary properties. They were dedicated on May 15, 1977, and incorporated as part of the College’s campus.