The Academy of the New Church
The Theological School top
Its Origin, Establishment and Progress
For a comprehensive view of the origin of the Theological School of the Academy, it will be necessary to go back to the earlier days of the Church when the whole subject of New Church education was much to the fore. The Theological School of the Academy is a legitimate fruit of those early efforts for New Church education with which the desire to establish a New Church theological school was intimately bound. There was then in America no school for ministers, and the efforts of the Rev. James P. Stuart, M. A., were early directed to establishing such a school; while the Rev. W. H. Benade bent his whole energy to the establishment and conduct of schools for New Church children. The Theological School of the Academy is the fruit of the work of these two men.
Bishop William Henry Benade.
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It is significant that in the Moravian Church, experience in teaching was regarded as a necessary part of the preparation for the ministry. It was for this reason that, after his theological training, Mr. Benade taught in the Nazareth Academy from 1835 to 1841. He was ordained in 1842. Two years later he became a licensed preacher (then considered the first degree of the ministry) in the New Church, and in the following year he was ordained. His first regular church was the society in Philadelphia, and, with his previous training, it is not surprising that he at once established a school for New Church education. This was a private undertaking, but it was supported entirely by members of the New Church society. Five years later, in 1847, the Rev. J. P. Stuart, who had formerly been a Presbyterian minister, was ordained into the ministry of the New Church, and in 1849 the two men met in Philadelphia. Both were interested in the work of education, and both were disturbed at the looseness of government then prevailing in the New Church, and which was so opposed to all their previous training. "There are few things of more importance to the Age (writes Mr. Benade in 1851) than New Church Schools." Mr. Benade had in mind more particularly elementary schools, but Mr. Stuart was especially interested in founding at Urbana, a university for higher education, looking to the instruction of New Church ministers.
In 1852, Mr. Benade expresses great interest in this work in Urbana; "for (he writes) we [The Philadelphia Society] think of establishing a school here, and would like our pupils to pass over to you." In the following year, 1853, Mr. Stuart went to Urbana as professor of philosophy, and secretary of the faculty. The following year he writes to Mr. Benade, seeking advice as to text-books to be used in the work of New Church education, and receives the answer: "They are none. You must make them; for it is clear that the Old Church cannot furnish even scientific text-books for our children, The reason is obvious, And therefore,
I deem it one of the first uses to be performed by our first New Church teachers—to prepare text-books. Here [in the Philadelphia Society] we will first form a class of quite young scholars—carry them on for one term—then another, and another, etc. If we are obliged to take older ones, we will accommodate ourselves to them as much as possible, not expecting to make real members of our school out of them, but simply endeavoring to do as much for them as we can."
The Philadelphia Society did not establish the hoped-for school, and in October, 1854, Mr. Benade, owing to fundamental differences with the Society, resigned as pastor and formed a new society, of which, we may note, Dr. N. C. Burnham was a member. It was at this transitional period that Mr. Stuart, knowing Mr. Benade's interest in education, offered him the general agency of Urbana, a post which involved the securing of financial aid for the university. Mr. Benade, however, refused on the ground that a university, to be successful as a New Church institution, "must be under the ministry,"—Urbana was directed by a "Board." He adds, moreover, that "there is prospect of our being able to start an educational movement here, which shall, in its inception and progress, embrace the whole Church." It appears that on resigning from the first Philadelphia Society, Mr. Benade had at once begun a school for older children. In 1856, however, his new society had definitely accepted education as a use of the Church, and for the prosecution of this use they erected a building in Cherry Street. The cornerstone of this building was laid on September 11, 1856, and it was on this occasion that Mr. Benade delivered his famous address predicting the extension of New Church education. "Today (he said) we have actually begun a great work." The school was at first under Mr. Benade alone, but the following year he was assisted by Dr. Leonard Tafel, Dr. Cowley (music), and Herman Faber (art). In this year the school was visited by Mr. Stuart, who tells us that it was opened at 9.0o A. M. by prayer and reading; after which came lessons in Hebrew, lectures on the Doctrines, and finally scientific subjects until two in the afternoon.
In the Church at large, the opposition to New Church education was very fully evidenced in 1855. Indeed, at the end of this year Mr. Benade and Mr. Burnham issued a printed circular, in the hopes of forming an Institution which should be founded on New Church principles. But their effort failed from lack of general support.
In 1857, Mr. Benade's society applied for admission to Convention with the open declaration that: "Schools and academies are ecclesiastical affairs." Meanwhile his school prospered. Dr. Leonard Tafel left him for Urbana, but he was assisted by two volunteer lady teachers, one of whom had been sent by her mother to be trained by Mr. Benade as a New Church teacher-an interesting fact which suggests the commencement of a Normal School. The school continued until 1861, with an average of over thirty pupils; but, owing to the war and other causes, it was then discontinued. It is interesting to note that during this time Mr. Benade, who even thus early, was regarded as a great teacher, had a theological student, Mr. E. C. Mitchell, whom he was training for the ministry. Mr. A. Bartells was also anxious to study under him, but was prevented by lack of means.
Rev. James P. Stuart.
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Meanwhile things at Urbana looked dark. For two years Mr. Stuart had experienced strong opposition to his efforts to make the education at Urbana distinctively New Church. He was opposed by those who advocated the principle that education is a civil use, and that New Church education belongs solely to the Sunday school. In 1865, his department of philosophy-which in fact was the only distinctively New Church department in the University-was dispensed with and he became the general agent of the institution. "The religious and ecclesiastical element (writes Mr. Stuart) has never been put in its place in the college." Mr. Stuart, however, still sought to establish the spirit of New Church education by giving private lessons whenever he returned home to Urbana. In 1858, he again resumed teaching at the University, his subject being Divine Love and Wisdom and the Doctrine of Correspondences. But the old divergencies still manifested themselves. In March, 1859, he writes in his diary: "It is now ten years since I came to Urbana and set on foot this movement, and I then determined to give ten years of my life to this cause. The ten years are passed and the result is before us: i. A New Church college is demanded; the time has come. 2. Students are ready. 3. Money is ready to give an endowment. 4. We have neither students nor money ... because we are unworthy of both. We have begun wrong." In June he resigned and thus finally ended all connection with Urbana University. For a short time, however, he still retained residence in the town, where he appears to have continued private lectures to some of the students.
Mr. Benade and Mr. Stuart had been in close co-operation for many years, and there is no doubt that they both looked forward to the establishment of New Church education from the theological school downward. In July, 1859, before Mr. Stuart had left Urbana, he writes to Mr. Benade that he has a clever Norwegian student who is studying under him for the ministry, with the intention of introducing the Church into Norway. "Shall I advise him to come to you?" (he writes) and Mr. Benade answers: "Send him on. Perhaps this will be the beginning of a theological school." We hear no more of this student.
Later on, in December of this same year (1859) we have the first mention of the "Academy." "You're right about the Academy (writes Mr. Stuart to Mr. Benade) and you may consider me with you. You will please say to the others associated with you that I accept the plan as a principle, and tend to them my sincere thanks for the trust imposed in me." Mr. Benade had suggested, as a use of the Academy, the making of a digest of Swedenborg's Writings, and Mr. Stuart suggests in addition "making a system of mental and spiritual training; the translation of the Word and the Writings; plans for temples and tabernacles; an organ of science; a system of propaganda and catholic basis of the Church, which could probably be done better by an Academy of the elite than by a college of the clergy." By the "college of the clergy," Mr. Stuart seems to have meant the Ecclesiastical Committee of the General Convention. "The Academy" here referred to was a spontaneous group of ministers in the Convention who found themselves in harmony of thought respecting church government and in opposition to the New England school, which then dominated the General Convention. This group consisted of the Rev. Messrs. W. H. Benade, N. C. Burnham, J. P. Stuart, Thomas Wilkes, J. R. Hibbard and R. L. Tafel, who were later joined by the Rev. Messrs. Frank Sewall, J. C. Ager and Samuel H. Warren.
In 1863, Mr. Benade divided his time between the societies in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, while Mr. Stuart had become the editor of the New Jerusalem Messenger. There was at this time a strong desire that Mr. Benade should have some position in the Church which would place him in New York. Mr. Stuart thought this absolutely necessary. "We need a metropolitan church (he wrote); a foundation for propaganda; a school for priests; a college of clergy; a central missionary church;" and he looked to Mr. Benade as the leader in supplying these needs. In the summer of 1864, Mr. Benade left Philadelphia and devoted himself entirely to the Pittsburgh society. In 1865, New England, dissatisfied with Mr. Stuart's doctrinal position, succeeded in having him transferred from the editorship of the Messenger to the general missionary field.
Meanwhile, the idea of an "Academy" continued in the minds of the "Harmony," but there was no definite movement. "The Academy idea, I believe in (writes Mr. Stuart in 1865) but how shall we begin?" and he suggests an educational convention to consider means for the increasing of the ministerial force. At this time there was no theological school, and the training of ministers was a very pressing question. The matter had been brought up in the Convention of 1865, and had been referred to the Ecclesiastical Committee, which recommended that a divinity school should be opened at the earliest day possible. Accordingly a committee of seven was appointed to further consider the matter and to take "such action as may be required ... at the earliest moment practicable." Mr. Stuart was the leading member of this committee, and on him was to fall the writing of its report. Among his fellow committeemen he found no plan, simply the idea that something must be done. In a letter to Mr. Benade (November 8, 1865) he says: "I proposed a college for the education of priests located near New York, with Mr. Benade at the head of it. This was a bold push and was received with seeming favor, but nothing definite." In answer to this letter Mr. Benade writes: "The Academy lives-it is-it exists." (He refers to the fact that R. L. Tafel had written a work on Swedenborg the Philosopher and Man of Science "which may be considered as beginning the work of the Academy ... is he not an Academician? The Academy must sustain him.") Mr. Benade then proposes raising funds in the Convention for sending Mr. Tafel to Sweden and elsewhere, to copy the Swedenborg manuscripts, and continues "This is work for the Academy-preparatory and formative work, and will lead most certainly to the College of Priests." As to the theological school, he points out that it was the intention of the President of Convention to establish such a school at Waltham, where it would be under the hands of the New England element, with which the "Harmony" found itself in constant conflict of ideas as to church order and policy. "New York is the place for a college of priests" writes Mr. Benade.
Mr. Stuart answers that the use of reproducing the manuscripts is a general use and can be supported by the General Convention, "being by no means one of our specialties. We ought to make our first levy of money in behalf of some object that is a strict specialty and that will command the universal sympathy and cooperation of the Church. Our college for the education of priests seems to me the work in hand. This work we can begin with a small fund and for the increase of it, we can appeal to the whole Church. But the college for priests would involve the necessity of your coming to New York to take charge of it, and an extensive agency throughout the country to raise the funds. In the beginning of the work if not permanently—the instruction to the classes might be confined to a single term from five to seven months in length, thus lessening the labor of the professors and the expense of the students, and giving more time for outside work."
Mr. Benade answers on December 25th. He again refers to the reproduction of the Swedenborg manuscripts, advocating that the direction of this work should be in the hands of the "Academy." He thinks that then the Church "may be led more easily to think of us as the proper persons to take hold of an institution devoted to the instruction of others in theological science. It will give us an academical status and the acknowledgment of it. The two things may follow each other very rapidly in time if we are only ready with our plans, with distinct and well defined propositions." He would like to have a consultation "on the part of the Academy" on these two subjects. "You are on the committee to incubate this egg, of a college of priests. You would be our medium to act on that committee, and through it on the general body." Mr. Benade himself had been requested by the President of Convention to move in the matter of advocating the reproduction of the manuscripts, and it is to this that he refers when he continues: "I have been requested to act in the other matter, and so can come forward as tire medium of the Academy's operation upon the general body. If you come with a plan and I with another, our battle will be set in order and we may advance upon that line all next summer. ... We say to the Church: Here are two great and all-important uses. To perform them we need money. You have it. ... We will find a place and men ready to teach according to the best of their ability, and then, if you will make your subscription perpetual, by changing it into an endowment, we will make our place and our professorships perpetual and so fix a college on the solid earth." Discussing the details of the proposed theological school, he continues: We may get young men pretty well advanced-college men-who will need only a general ordering and arrangement of what they have already learned, a following up and out, and a direction to their future studies; or we may get younger bodies who will need some preparatory work, and therefore more work. The college period ought not to be less than three years, but at first, as you suggest, it may be much shorter. ... I am ready to take such part in this work as the Church may assign me and as I am able to do. If the Church wants me to teach, I will try; if it wants me to collect funds, I will try. Anything at all, so that the work goes on."
In the following year (January 5, 1866) he again writes to Mr. Stuart: "The college of priests is in your hands. Let your Missionary Board [Mr. Stuart was one of the leaders in the Committee on Missions appointed by the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Convention] come forward and state to the world that it must be. And then say, so much is needed to begin. Establish a fund to which every society in the Church will be asked to contribute ... * then let the ecclesiastical committee appoint its college board by ballot, choosing the men who know something about the matter-three are enough; and then let this board select the teachers and have their selection confirmed by the committee; and let them select a place, subject to the same confirmation, and then let the board and teachers determine on the course of studies; invite students, and go to work. ... For the College of Priests (he continues) we shall require two things not yet prepared. First, a New Church exegesis of the literal sense of the Word; and, second, a church history ab initio. The preparation of the materials for these two things can go on simultaneously at first, that is, up to the period of the Lord's Advent. ... This is what I have been and am working at." Mr. Benade then asks whether, in view of the motto "Nunc Licet," it would not be better to organize the Academy openly and then suffer its great end and use to control the means, by requirements of membership and rules of admission. "I for one (he says) am willing to announce our policy and to meet all opponents openly on the ground of sufficient reason. By this course we can gain a large membership and support, and yet keep the helm in our own hands through an organization on the principle of the trine. I have a notion to work out some such plan for presentation to the present ‘Harmony’."
The end and purpose aimed at by Messrs. Benade and Stuart and those associated with them, was to combat the influence of the New England element which long ago had firmly registered its rejection of New Church education, and of a trinal order in the ministry, and with which they were in perpetual conflict on other vital points of doctrine, especially on the nature of the authority of the Writings. The "Academy" was as yet inchoate—the only fixed thing being, that it should be a body formally organized for the purpose of introducing into the Church a true order, an educated ministry, a new translation of the Word and Writings, a new, study of the Doctrines, and of the application of those Doctrines to the fields of science and pedagogy. It was this end that gradually and spontaneously brought together the men who constituted the "Harmony," and who dreamed of establishing a New Church Academy or institute of learning.
Mr. Benade realized that a divinity school would not in itself be enough. He writes (February, 1866) that teachers were needed and books; a new translation of the Word and the Writings; commentaries, etc.; and this requires "unity of purpose and co-operation-a pre-established harmony-an organized body of workers. By these uses the Academy establishes its place and authority among the people, gathers houses, lands and moneys, and makes a College of Priests; and thus it becomes a centre of education and instruction. ... As to name, why not `Academy of the New Jerusalem?' ... The officers of the Academy are governors-priests-we must insist on the priestly government of the Church." He then continues that we have the priests of the `Harmony' for the first degree, Rudolph Tafel for the second or scientific degree, and McCandless, McClelland, Boericke, etc., for the third.
Mr. Stuart is equally definite. He agrees that the "Harmony" should be open, and yet there ought to be an inner circle, as a heart and lungs. "From the beginning of the `Harmony' (he writes in January, 1866) I have felt the want of a body that everyone can see, as well as the heart and lungs that they cannot see. The time has now come." He suggests, among the other uses for the Academy, a school for the education of priests and laymen, a publishing house, and the propagation of the faith.
At this time, the "Academy" is merely the hope and aspiration of a few men who find themselves to be in harmony; but the one thing that shines out clearly, is the desire of this "Harmony" to secure the recognition of the divinity of the Writings, of the place of the priesthood, of the need of educating men for the priesthood, and of the application of distinctive New Church Doctrines to the science and thought of the day; and it was thought that there were many in the Convention who could be brought to see the necessity of these objects, although in the Convention itself, which the New England element so largely dominated, they had little confidence. And so, in some way, they were anxious to make of the "Harmony" a definite organization, and to commence with definite uses.
Mr. Hibbard also agrees that the "Harmony" should come out in the open, but, like the others, he is doubtful as to the means. Mr. Ager is anxious that the Academy bear fruit, but he doubts the success of Mr. Benade's plans, and, in a remarkably clear way, he foresees that those plans will necessarily involve a separation, an actual severance, from the Convention. In a letter of March 10, 1866, he says: "As to the questions you and Mr. Stuart have been discussing, I approve sincerely of all the uses you suggest; I am not so hopeful as you seem to be about being able to keep the matter under our control. The Convention, you say, must be our `base of supplies,' and as a necessary consequence you throw the control of the matter into the hands of the Convention. What would the result be? Do you suppose the Ecclesiastical Committee in Boston would not be very largely in favor of keeping such an institution in the hands of Boston. The matter would stand on vote about seven to four. ... I wish we might have a conference on this subject and others. We never have had, when I have been present. We have talked about things in a very definite way, but did not get down into them. ... I would give quite a good deal to have you here in New York. We need a man here, who is both a sound New Churchman and a scholar. We have none such. If only we could make some place for you here! ... The editorial management of the Messenger might be put into the hands of the ministers here—that could easily be done—and we would give you the chief management of it. Then we might gain a controlling influence in the publishing movements. And we might commence a theological school on a small scale, just here among ourselves, and work out the problems. Isn't there some way in which you could come? I think it must be done."
In a further letter of March 23rd, Mr. Ager writes: "As to the Academy, your plan seems practicable, and still impracticable. I think you underrate the faith which many of the best men in the Church have in the Convention. There is a strong desire to have all the uses of the Church placed under the control of the Convention. Supposing any of the uses you mention should be brought before the Church, how will you present it? In Convention? Then Convention will have the control of Would you organize the Academy and make it known to the Church as an instument for performing these uses? Then the question will arise, Why do you not work in and through the Convention? And will not the plain truthful answer to this mark the beginning of antagonism between the two bodies? Shall we say-what is the truth-that we are trying the experiment of working outside the Convention because we find we cannot work efficiently in it? I do not see how the Academy can be 'a separate though related body' because it proposes to undertake a part at least of the work which the Convention proposes to do. In fact, if the Academy undertakes to do all that it may in its complete organization, what will be left to the Convention? If it should regulate the organization of the ministry, why not ordain? If it would educate priests, why not set them at work? If it would teach principles of Church order which the Convention will not sanction, will it not have to publish for itself?" In writing thus, Mr. Ager has no desire to throw cold water on Mr. Benade's plan, but merely to discuss the difficulties involved. "If you were here (he continues) I have a plan which might be thought of, so far as a theological school is concerned, i. e., that we should gather together what material we can and start it. There is a pressing need for this work. People all over the country are asking for it. Wherever it is first started it will be supported." He fears that if the "Harmony" does not establish such a school, then it will be established by the New England element; he then continues: "Is not the theological school the proper centre to start from? We could then have a true organization of the priesthood, could propagate it; and is not the priesthood the centre of things?"
Mr. Stuart is quite at one with Mr. Ager, and he offers as a practical suggestion the extension of the "Harmony" to include laymen, and the making of an open appeal to the Church for subscriptions for a college for the education of ministers ... involving a library, a board of translators, a board of theologians able to make theology a science and to teach it-a board of practical priests able to find out what the priesthood is and how it ought to be produced; a board of practical linguists and philosophers, etc., etc."
Despite the basic conflict of views between the "Harmony" and the New England element, nothing could be done however; for at that time there was no present intention of making a complete separation. The result was a compromise. To the Convention which met in May, 1867, Mr. Stuart reported that in July of the preceding year, the Committee appointed by the Convention with authority to establish a theological school, had actually established a school at Waltham, with a course lasting eight weeks, and including lectures on Theology, History, Hebrew and Latin by fourteen different lecturers. The theological lecturers were eight in number, and included Mr. Benade (the Ancient Church), J. P. Stuart (Degrees and Correspondences), J. C. Ager (History of Doctrine), and R. L. Tafel (Philology). The theological lecturers each attended the school for one week and gave five lectures.
But it was evident from the first that two such opposite schools of thought as those represented by the "Harmony" and by Boston could not successfully work together as teachers in a single theological school. As a consequence, though Mr. Stuart was continued as one of the seven members of the board controlling the Waltham school, yet, after the first session of eight weeks, the members of the "Harmony" were not again invited to deliver lectures.
Mr. Benade and Mr. Stuart soon came to see that the Waltham Divinity School was actually in no sense a compromise. Its very situation was sufficient to ensure the dominance of the Boston school of theology. "I see but one way forward, touching educational matters (writes Mr. Stuart in July, 1867), that is, by an organized open philosophical-theological Academy—an annual or semi-annual meeting—to determine high themes, to render standard papers, reports, etc. From this we can by and by found a school of the prophets,—at Waltham, Glendale, Chicago, Urbana or New York."
In 1867, the Waltham School was more closely organized with the Rev. Thomas Worcester as president, and a small faculty representing only the New England school of thought. Yet there was in the Convention, and even outside the "Harmony," a strong feeling in favor of Mr. Benade being one of the professors. One of the influential laymen of the Church, Mr. L. C. Iungerich of Philadelphia, when asked for a subscription to the Waltham School, spoke to his questioner "about Boston's prejudice against all ministers that happened to be beyond the limits of Massachusetts, and particularly against the ministers of the Pennsylvania Association." He "regarded Mr. Benade as a ripe scholar and one of the best fitted men in our country" for a professorship in a New Church theological school, "and perhaps better fitted for the situation than any that might be found in New England," and he concluded by stating that he was willing to contribute to the funds of the school only on the condition that Mr. Benade was employed as one of the instructors (T. Wilkes to W. H. Benade, January 6, 1868.)
In 1873, Mr. Benade was consecrated as ordaining minister, and, as presiding officer of the Pennsylvania Association, he soon found an opportunity of ultimating his views with regard to church order. He still continued in his pastorate at Pittsburgh, and there, by his teaching, had gathered around him the support of some strong and influential young laymen. It was here, in the beginning of 1874, that the idea which had so long been embodied in the "Academy" of the "Harmony" first took definite shape. A sum of money was contributed to the uses of the Academy, and some sort of an organization was formed for the conduct of an internal propaganda to spread the knowledge of the Doctrines in the New Church itself, especially to promote the deeper study of the Writings by New Church ministers, and the practical recognition of their far-reaching influence on the uses of the Church. No name was adopted by the group of four men who met in Pittsburgh in January, 1874, but undoubtedly in the mind of Mr. Benade, the organization was a continuation of that "Academy" which had so long been dreamed of. For in March of the following year, 1875, Mr. Hibbard writes to Mr. Benade: "About the 'Academy,' if you have anything useful of that sort going on I would like to be one of you."
There was no formal organization of the Academy until June 2, 1875, when at a meeting in New York, attended by the Rev. Messrs. W. H. Benade, N. C. Burnham, J. P. Stuart, J. R. Hibbard, S. H. Warren and Messrs. John Pitcairn and Walter C. Childs, the name "Academy of the New Church" was adopted. It was further declared that the object of the Academy was instruction within the New Church, and that this object should be openly declared to the world. The actual mode of the instruction thus involved, namely, the beginning of a theological school, followed almost immediately.
On July 2, 1875, Mr. Stuart informs Mr. Benade that Mr. Vetterling, a student at Urbana, does not wish to continue there, nor does he wish to go to Waltham. "Dr. Burnham cannot take him; you cannot; I cannot. But in some way he has come to have confidence in the instruction that he would get from us three. The time therefore has come. The oracle says to act. Mr. Vetterling has left his case to me. He wants to stay a month in Urbana and finish up certain things, and then he throws himself on our mercy. What can be done? Cannot we arrange it so that he shall go to Doctor Burnham, say three months, then to you two or three months, then come to me for a like time? Must we not in some such way take a new departure and begin in earnest the education of our young men who would enter the ministry?" Mr. Stuart adds that he would like to take Mr. Vetterling in English and sermon writing. A few days later, on July loth, the Rev. E. C. Mitchell, Mr. Benade's first theological student, writes Mr. Benade to the same effect, but gives further particulars. He had known Mr. Vetterling in Minneapolis before he had gone to Urbana; but Mr. Vetterling is now "disgusted with Urbana" and "talks of going back to printing. Mr. Sewall told me that Mr. Vetterling is now ready to go to preaching." Dr. Burnham, Mr. Mitchell adds, was not in a position to take this student, and, he continues, "I would rather Mr. Vetterling should be with you, but it would be well for him to go to Mr. Stuart and then to you, and, if necessary, he might go to Dr. Burnham also."
The first contribution to the Academy
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In answer to Mr. Stuart, Mr. Benade outlines a plan by which the Academy was to acquire property in New Jersey and there establish "a school for the prophets" that is, a theological school, where students could gather, and where Dr. Leonard Tafel could come as a resident professor. This project of purchasing land for the establishment of a theological school was actively entertained by the Academy during 1876 and 1877, and various properties in Staten Island and New Jersey were examined with this view by Mr. Stuart and Mr. Childs, but nothing definite was done in the matter.
The first contribution to the Academy
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Meanwhile, on the receipt of the letter from Mr. Mitchell following Mr. Stuart's letter, Mr. Benade took the matter up with the newly-formed Academy. On July 14th Mr. Pitcairn answers him: "The Academy should appropriate $200 to enable Mr. Vetterling to come to Pittsburgh and spend four months with you; after which, we may have money enough to forward him on to the Doctor and finally wind up with Mr. Stuart; if this meets the views of the three Academicians at their meeting in Pittsburgh this week, we would suggest that you write at once to Vetterling." Thus was made the first appropriation of money by the newly-formed Academy; and this appropriation looked to the establishment of a new and distinct theological school.* (Footnote>> *This appears to be the first appropriation considered by the Academy, though it is not the first that was paid.
Mr. Vetterling, thus adopted as the Academy's first theological student, studied with Dr. Burnham at Lancaster from August to November, 1875, and with Mr. Benade at Pittsburgh, from December to March, 1876, when he was licensed to preach and became Mr. Benade's assistant. It may be added that prior to this, namely from 1873 to 1875, Mr. Richard de Charms, Jr., had been a student under Mr. Benade, after having taken a two years' theological course at Urbana; but Mr. de Charms was licensed to preach and left Pittsburgh about the time when Mr. Vetterling commenced his studies, and, of course, cannot be considered as a theological student of the Academy.
While the support given to Mr. Vetterling was undoubtedly a protest against Waltham, and looked to the establishment of a separate theological school, yet at this time the Academy does not seem to have definitely decided to establish such a school. Indeed the thought was entertained by Mr. Stuart and others of having Mr. Benade appointed editor of the Messenger. On December 2, 1375, the Rev. L. H. Tafel, a member of the Council of the Academy, writes to Mr. Benade: "I have a young man now [Mr. Roeder) who has been studying with me off and on for the last three years. He wants to prepare for the ministry. I thought of assisting him to enable him to enter the junior class in Urbana next fall. Mr. Vetterling, however, gives so discouraging an account of the state of affairs there that I do not know whether it would pay for him to go there."
In February of the following year, 1876, Mr. Roeder was joined by Mr. John Whitehead, both receiving instruction in languages from Mr. Tafel preparatory to studying for the ministry. Mr. Whitehead was a member of the Broad Street Society, of which the Rev. W. F. Pendleton was pastor, and it was his intention to study for the ministry at Waltham; but as the Waltham school did not open until June, he took preliminary lessons in the Doctrines from Mr. Pendleton, and also in languages from Mr. Tafel. When June came he entered the Waltham school. He remained there during the whole course of five months, after which he decided not to return. He then resumed his studies with Messrs. Pendleton and Tafel, the former of whom had now come into full sympathy with Mr. Benade.
In October, 1876, Mr. Tafel, after describing the progress of Mr. Roeder's studies, writes to Mr. Benade: "The question will soon be, what to do with him. He ought to have more of a systematic course of instruction in the Doctrines and I do not feel quite as if I was ready to map out such a plan and follow it We are going through Divine Love and Wisdom, of which he makes a synopsis as he goes along."
The Rev. J. R. Hibbard, another member of the Council of the Academy, had also a student preparing for the ministry, namely Mr. E. C. Bostock. Mr. Bostock was reading the Doctrines with Mr. Hibbard once a week, besides attend ing lectures in anatomy with a view to preparing for Urbana. "I have not told him about the Academy (writes Mr. Hibbard in February, 1877) only that a number of the ministers, wishing to have the young ministers more thoroughly trained than they could be at Waltham or Urbana, had arranged among themselves to prepare young men for the ministry."
Finally in New York, Dr. Leonard Tafel, pastor of the German Society in Brooklyn, who was wholly in sympathy with the Academy, had three young men who were studying languages with him, and were interested in the Doctrines.
In view of all these circumstances the Academy, on November 9, 1876, decided to establish a Theological School, the possible students being the two young men in Philadelphia, the three in New York and the one in Chicago. Mr. Stuart was delegated to draw up a curriculum. A month after this decision, Dr. Leonard Tafel approached his students on the subject, with the result that they gave up all other business and devoted themselves wholly to the study of languages prior to entering the Academy Theological School. It is a curious coincidence also, that at this time Mr. Benade, in Pittsburgh, received a letter from a Mr. J. W. Leadenham, a middle-aged man, a lawyer and lay-preacher, asking for information as to the cost of studying for the ministry, for which he was prepared to pay. Mr. Leadenham was assigned to the care of the Rev. W. F. Pendleton.
The decision of the Academy was followed in May, 1877, by an addition of two more students to the classes conducted by the Rev. L. H. Tafel, namely Messrs. G. W. Lang and Gustav Bonschur, both intimate friends of Mr. Roeder and members of Mr. Tafel's German society.
The Divinity School of the Academy may be considered as having actually commenced in January, 1877, for though the students were scattered, they were nevertheless considered as students of the Academy; appropriations were made to. pay for their tuition, and, according to the record of one of the New York students, weekly stipends were paid to such of the students as were in need thereof. "We have now in the Academy nine theological students (writes Mr. Stuart to his wife in February, 1877) more than Waltham ever had. The movement in all respects is startling to everybody, especially as it has come to us without our seeking-these young men coming to us because we can teach them, and because others who have tried it cannot." Later, on February 27th, he writes to Mr. Benade: The seminary is quite a wonder in its way-nine to ten young men having come to us, and others wishing to." The tenth person here referred to was a young man from Vineland, who was studying under Mr. Pendleton, but who does not appear to have continued long.
The connection between the Philadelphia professors and the students at New York was very slight. The students came to Philadelphia once or twice to be examined, and Mr. Tafel visited them once in New York to observe their progress. Naturally this was not satisfactory, and more than once Mr. Tafel writes to Mr. Benade as to the advisability of bringing all the students to Philadelphia. The only obstacle was the increased expense of a schoolroom, since at present all the instruction was given in the homes of the professors. However, in April, 1877, the Academy decided to rent a schoolroom, at least for the Philadelphia students, and enquiries were made of the Trustees of the almost defunct Cherry Street Society, with a view to renting the, basement of the Cherry Street school which was then being rented to a lady who conducted a private school there. Ultimately it was decided not to move into this school until the fall term in September, 1877. Meanwhile the basement of the Cherry Street building was rented, and during the summer was prepared for the opening of the school.
These developments caused somewhat of a sensation in Convention circles. "It became known during the ministers' conference and Convention (writes Dr. Hibbard to Mr. Stuart, in July, 1877) that there was in Pennsylvania an institution for educating young men for the ministry. I was asked, How is it that our unknown company of gentlemen in Pennsylvania had more students than Waltham and Urbana combined?" The answer given by Dr. Hibbard, who was one of the trustees of Urbana University as well as a member of the Waltham Board, was not complimentary to either of these institutions. He then suggested that the three theological schools exchange teachers; and, apparently as a result of this suggestion, the Urbana trustees appointed Dr. Hibbard and Mr. Sewall, to secure the co-operation of all who propose to give instruction to young men preparing for the ministry."
Meanwhile some changes had taken place in Philadelphia. On account of his sympathy with the Academy position, Mr. Pendleton had been forced to retire from the first Philadelphia Society; and several of the members, including members of the former Cherry Street Society, resigned their membership at the same time. These latter then joined with the German Society to form the Society of the Advent, under the pastorship of the Rev. L. H. Tafel, Mr. Pendleton having meanwhile gone to Chicago to assume a pastorate there. The society of the Advent was given permission to use the church in the upper story of the old Cherry Street building, and services were opened there on Sunday, September 2nd. The following day the Academy opened its Divinity School in the lower room.
The Cherry St. School.
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Thus, in the same room where Mr. Benade had commenced the work of New Church education with children; in the same building, the corner-stone of which he had laid thirty-one years before, and at the dedication of which to the use of New Church education, he had prophesized in eloquent language the growth of New Church education-in that same room, thirty-one years later almost to a day, was opened the first public session of the Theological School of the Academy of the New Church.
Chancellor Benade had sailed to England on an extended tour of educational research, and was therefore unable to be present at this first opening of the new "Divinity School." His place was therefore taken by the Vice-Chancellor, the Rev. J. P. Stuart, M. A. The faculty was represented by the Rev. Messrs. J. P. Stuart and L. H. Tafel, while the Rev. Frank Sewall, President of Urbana University, was present as a distinguished guest. The school was opened purely as a Divinity School, its professors being: the Rev. Dr. Burnham, Systematical Theology; the Rev. J. P. Stuart, Mental Philosophy, Rhetoric and Sermon-writing; and the Rev. L. H. Tafel, Languages and Church History. Mr. Stuart, however, who then resided in Vineland—though he moved to Philadelphia early in 1879—taught only once a week.
The first contribution to the Academy
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In a letter to Mr. Benade, dated October 24, 1877, Mr. Stuart gives some description of the actual operations of the school in this its first year: "The school is coming into a living condition (he says) with a visible unity and strength-the awkward stiffness of our first beginning in Cherry Street having passed into a rational adjustment to the work, and to the place with its appointments. The library begins to look like life. Dr. Burnham has his extended blackboard for his illustrations of degrees. The tables are there with lexicons and copies of the Word and the Writings for Tafel; and when my day comes, the books change and the tables present Webster's and Worcester's great unabridged dictionaries, with a supply of various English works as texts for rhetoric and criticisms. The young fellows do not shrink from their task—a thesis once a week." Mr. Stuart then adds that the students have formed a club for mutual improvement in speaking, debating, reading, behaving, etc. This club, we may add, was formed during the second week of the school, and after considering the names "Students' Circle of the Advent," "Nunc Licet Circle," etc., the students finally called it the "Gymnasium." Mr. Stuart continues: "Mr. Tafel is a host in moving the boys forward in the languages. His methods are most thorough, and may well be called thorough thoroughness. The same may be said of Dr. Burnham with his lessons in the Doctrines. Indeed I find none of the studies pursued as tasks and as appointed duties, but only as the earnest delights of their lives. Next week we are to have the New York students and the old Doctor [Dr. Leonard Tafel]."
Before proceeding further, a word might here be said about the "Gymnasium." As will be surmised, the name was adopted after the pattern of those gymnasiums in the spiritual world so often spoken of in the Writings. And the spirit that led to the adoption of this name influenced the members of the club in other ways. Its sessions were opened by saying the Lord's prayer in Greek, and reading the Word in Hebrew; for which purpose the members were assigned the task of preparing the Hebrew together with the internal sense of the passages read. The official greeting adopted was the Hebrew ‘Shalom l'kha’; and the discussions included knotty theological problems, many of which were the result of a question box instituted by Dr. Burnham, in which the Doctor put questions which the students were advised to study and discuss.
The New York students joined the school on October 26, 1877, bringing the total number of students in this first session of the Academy's Divinity School to eight. The faculty was also increased by the addition of Dr. Leonard Tafel, who taught four days a week, returning to New York every week-end.
In the beginning the school had been regarded purely as a theological school, but experience soon showed that all the students needed preliminary college training. It was therefore decided to add a college course. The change was made in the beginning of 1878, and the school was then called: "The College and Divinity School." The students, who doubtless had anticipated an early entry into the ministry, were not altogether pleased with what to them seemed a demotion. "The transition in the school from the simple theological course to one in which the missing parts of the collegiate course were supplied (writes Mr. Stuart) has given us much perplexing work. Our difficulty was to carry the students with us. They were already well advanced, as they supposed, in their theological studies-some of them in the second or third year. Their academical training had been passed by, and now to convince them that they must bring up their collegiate studies in order to be complete men, was no small task; and especially it was hard to do it without cooling the ardor of the young men and producing discouragement and disappointment. Still we succeeded, and in the end they were delighted with the new order. Some of them are filling in their missing subjects in the present vacation."
From a contemporary description by a student (Mr. G. W. Lang), we learn that the hours of the school were from 8.00 to 12.30. There were two classes, though in some of the courses the students were often intermingled. Hebrew, Greek and Latin occupied three hours, three days a week. Church History was taught twice a week; one period of one and one-half hours was given to Rhetoric, and four periods of the same length were occupied by Dr. Burnham. "In Dr. Burnham's class [on Tuesday] we use the book on Degrees written by him, Mr. Whitehead being our lector. We also read the various passages in the Writings quoted by the Doctor in his explanation of the diagrams. After this, until about 12.30, we have the honor of being with the Vice-Chancellor, the Rev. J. P. Stuart, of whom we receive instruction in rhetoric, grammar, etc., each student reading some thesis which he has prepared. At first these were only such as addressed themselves to the senses, namely sensual theses; then we wrote such theses as addressed themselves to the reason, i. e., rational theses; and now, part of the class, Messrs. Whitehead, Bostock and Roeder, have advanced a step further and are writing spiritual theses, or, more properly, lectures. The afternoon is occupied in criticizing various writers and in loud reading,-the other afternoons being free.
Another contemporary, one of the New York students (Mr. A. Czerny), writes: "We have been put in Dr. Burnham's class which, as I heard afterwards, the Academy did not intend to do the first year. Every Monday Dr. Tafel comes from New York and continues the languages with us. Tuesday we have L. H. Tafel and Vice-Chancellor J. P. Stuart. Every week we have to write a thesis which he criticizes and returns to us the following Tuesday. On Friday evening Dr. Farrington lectures on anatomy. Two weeks ago he delivered a lecture on the circulation of the blood, to which the congregation was invited. Dr. Farrington brought a machine by which he could show the contraction and dilation of the heart; also a drop of blood was shown through the microscope."
The first commencement was held in the Cherry Street Church on May 15, 1878, and an imposing programme was prepared and printed. All the eight students it appears that Mr. Leadenham was no longer a student at this time-except one, took part. The four college students gave recitations in English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew; and the three theological students delivered "orations" on doctrinal subjects. But the most distinctive feature of the exercises was the introduction for the first time of Hebrew singing. This had been made possible by some Heberw music books which Mr. Benade had sent from Paris, where he had procured them from the composer, Dr. Naumburg. After the receipt of these books the theological students and several members of the Advent Society had diligently studied the singing of Hebrew. The first notable item on the Commencement programme was a Hebrew refrain, chanted by the students at due intervals during the Hebrew reading by Prof. L. H. Tafel, of Psalm 1o7; and the last item on the programme was the Hebrew Psalm "Halleluiah," sung by a choir. We may add, that since this day, Hebrew singing has rarely, if ever, been missing as a feature of Academy Commencements.
Respecting the effect of this singing in Hebrew, the Vice-Chancellor writes to Mr. Benade: "The Hebrew volumes you sent are excellent. They give us a series of-classic and beautiful anthems rather than chants. Our students went into the Hebrew singing with such a hearty good will that we were all amazed. There must indeed be an influx into these divine forms which we cannot transfer into English. This result was predicted by Dr. Burnham and yourself, but was hardly believed by the rest of us."
Thus ended the first year of the Academy Theological School.
The successful completion of this year was indeed a matter of congratulation to the members of the Academy, and every effort was made to call the attention of the Church to the new movement now established. In May, 1877, an eight page curriculum was published, giving the names of the corporation and faculty, and outlining the courses. The faculty consisted of the Rev. Messrs. Benade, Stuart, Burnham, L. H. Tafel, Leonard Tafel, Dr. Farrington (anatomy) and Dr. Starkey (zoology and botany). The courses now included a three-year academical course in languages, mathematics, science and the Doctrines, and a two-year course in the Divinity School, to be taken "after completing the academic course." The course in the Divinity School far these years was:
I. Systematic theology; Mental philosophy; Terminology; Categories; Degrees and Correspondences; Exposition; History of Doctrine; Theses; Extemporaneous speaking; Languages.
II. Exposition; Synonyms; Mental philosophy; Ontology; Oriental Antiquties; Correspondences; Hieroglyphics; Church History; Homiletics; Sermons; Lectures; The Priesthood; Church Organization; Dissemination of the Heavenly Doctrine.
These courses were professedly expressed in very general terms, as it was felt that the particulars must be filled in by experience. Finally the curriculum closed with an "announcement of the Academy of the New Church." Two thousand copies were printed for general distribution, and, in particular, for distribution in the Convention and the English Conference.
The second year of the school opened in September, 1878, with seven theological students. Two of the former students had resigned on account of differences with the doctrinal position of the Academy, but the number of students was in creased by the addition of a Mr. Benasaph, who had been recommended by Mr. Mercer, of Chicago, and who entered the school with the idea of working his way through, but without the definite or settled determination of becoming a minister. He left at the end of the school year. In addition to these students there were several young men who entered the college merely as a college, without any idea of becoming ministers. Thus this year marks the inchoate beginning of the college as a separate institution—an institution which, with some intermissions, has continued to the present time. The new college class was indeed, as Mr. Tafel writes, "a nest-egg for our college department." The line between college and divinity school was, however, not strictly drawn in actual practice. Students were interchanged, and the two departments were governed by the one theological faculty.
The courses outlined in the curriculum were all given, except perhaps those of Dr. Starkey, who does not appear to have been able to assume his duties, or at any rate to have long continued them. Dr. Farrington's lectures were usually given in the evening, since his professional duties required his presence elsewhere during the day-time. For chemistry, arrangements were made to have the students attend lectures at a Philadelphia school. The work of the week covered five hours a day and the students were undoubtedly required to work. Indeed there was some discussion in the Academy Council between those who advocated twenty-five hours a week and those who advocated only fifteen.
One of the theological students, writing December, 1878, gives the following description of the work in classes: "Mr. Tafel keeps us well supplied with work in the languages and is making an attempt to infuse Church History into our brains. The history, however, is so mixed with 'bosh' that it is very disagreeable work; but then it is the only disagreeable work we have to do, unless I except Caesar.
"The Doctor is taking us through the diagrams. They make everything distinct and plain, though we get only general ideas the first time we go over them. The Doctor also gives us instruction in pronounciation Thursdays. He seems to enjoy his work and the class very much.
EDW C. Bostock.
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"Mr. Stuart has divided us into two classes-the first, consisting of Mr. Whitehead, Mr. Roeder and myself [Mr. Bostock], write short lectures every two weeks; the second, consisting of the remaining students, write descriptive or rational theses every week.
"Dr. Farrington also gives us very interesting lectures on anatomy every Friday evening."
To this description we may add that a perusal of private letters written by Dr. Farrington, makes it evident that his lectures were based on a very close study of Swedenborg's physiological works, and an attempt to make anatomy illustrate the truths of theology.
The second commencement was held at Cherry Street in May, 1879, and is distinguished as being the occasion for the bestowal of the first degrees granted by the Academy. When the subject of degrees came to be considered in the Academy Council, it was found that, curiously enough, the power to grant degrees "by some strange oversight was not specified in our charter as first issued." It had been supposed that this power was implied; but to make the matter certain the charter was amended. The degree of Bachelor of Arts was conferred on Messrs. John Whitehead and E. C. Bostock, and the Baccalaureate Address was delivered by the Rev. W. F. Pendleton, who had been specially invited to come from Chicago for the purpose.
The third year of the school opened on September 8, 1879, with a strictly theological class, consisting of the two college graduates. These studied for the most part under Mr. Benade and Dr. Burnham. Mr. Benade had now returned from Europe, and, having resigned his position in Pittsburgh, took up his residence in Philadelphia. He received the students in his rooms, first at the home of Dr. Boericke, 1802 Race Street, and soon afterwards in his own home at 110 Friedlander Street.
An interesting description of the work of the school is given in a letter (October 26, 1879) written by one of the students, a young man of twenty-four: "The second hour of every Monday Mr. Stuart has us, and we write a lecture for him about once in two weeks. On Wednesday the third hour I have Hebrew, and the fourth hour the Principia. All the rest of the time is given to Mr. Benade [Mr. Burnham's course probably started later], with whom we have first, the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture, the Exposition of the Word, and finally the Doctrine of the Priesthood. The following is his method of exposition of the Word. We take some complete portion of the Word—we began with the first Psalm. We first collect all Swedenborg's Latin translations and copy them out. Then we make a literal translation of the passages into English. This done, we hunt up all the general explanations of the Psalm and copy them out. From this we gather what general doctrine the passage comes under. Thus the first Psalm treats of the doctrine of life—he that shuns evils will be saved, and he that does not will be damned. This we state in our own words. Thus we have a general into which the particulars are to enter. Having thus the general doctrine of the passage, we go to the first verse. We first get Swedenborg's explanation of the verse as a whole, if there is any. Then we take each word and look up the explanation in the Writings [this was before the days of Potts' Concordance]. This we copy out in full, translating directly from the Latin. As we finish a number, we make an abstract of its contents and write it in the margin, so that we can tell at a glance what the number contains. When we have copied enough to give the general significance of the Word, and illustrations of particular applications, we go to the next word. When we have finished the verse we write out in our own words the spiritual sense, in a brief form and abstractly. This, however, we do not consider as final. When we have finished the second verse we review the former one, and write out the spiritual sense of that also. When we finish the Psalm we go all over it and write out the spiritual sense opposite each verse. We have just finished the second verse of the first Psalm, and I have copied over a hundred pages of letter paper. Of course we keep these, and a word once looked up need not be gone over again. When we finish the Psalm we will have material for quite a number of sermons, and, having everything in connection and, such full explanations, we get a much clearer idea of the teaching. I like the plan very much indeed, for it gives thorough preparation. There is then no hunting for matter for your sermon, but rather a selection of what you wish to say at any particular time. Of course we bring our work to the class every day and read it and Mr. Benade makes remarks on it. Mr. Benade thinks it a good plan to take such a passage and preach a series of sermons on it. He says, `Pay no attention to the cry of the people for variety, and they will soon learn that they get an astonishing variety in that way ...' In the `Priesthood' we are reading the report of the Ecclesiastical Committee written by Mr. Benade and rinted in the Journal of 1875."
During this year a Professor Rufus Adam was engaged in the second term to give ten lessons in elocution; but the faculty was decreased by the sudden death of Dr. Leonard Tafel, in whom the school lost a teacher of the highest scholarship. His death threw much additional work upon his son, the Rev. L. H. Tafel.
It was during the spring term of this year (April, 188o) that the Academy decided to confer its first theological degree, the recipient being the Rev. R. J. Tilson, of London. The name chosen for the degree was Bachelor of Theology rather than the more common Bachelor of Divinity, because, as Mr. Benade writes: "we wish to mark the fact that in the New Church the terms divine and divinity are not employed in the sense given to them in the Old Church." Mr. Tilson's work had been observed, and his scholastic records and his sermons had been submitted to the faculty for critical examination, and it was on the basis of this that the degree of B. Th. was granted to him. It was conferred by Dr. Rudolph Tafel at a special meeting called for the purpose in London, on April 22nd.
The granting of this degree caused an immense stir in England, where the matter was discussed both in Morning Light and in the Conference, much criticism being directed against Mr. Tilson for receiving a foreign theological degree. The question was introduced to the American papers in October by a letter addressed to the New Jerusalem Messenger by "C. G.," which was of such a nature that it called forth a sharp response from Mr. Benade.
The public discussion to which we have just referred had two noteworthy results. Reading the various letters in Morning Light, Dean Colley, of Pietermaritzbury, Natal, sent a sermon to the Academy and made formal application for the degree of Bachelor of Divinity or Doctor of Divinity, his reason being that, owing to his New Church views, his own college at Oxford had omitted to grant him the degree of D. D., which would normally have been his. He therefore prayed for a degree in "the theology which must last for all time." Chancellor Benade answered in a courteous letter, explaining to the Dean that the Academy could not grant the degree of B.Th. to one who was not separated from the Old Church.
The other noteworthy result, was due to the letter by "C. G " in the Messenger. This was discussed in the students' "Gymnasium"—which body had now ceased to consist merely of theological students—and "C. G.'s" veiled aspersions on the Academy aroused such indignation that the students decided to answer it. This, however, was not done, since the Chancellor himself had already sent an answer. But, as far as the "Gymnasium" was concerned, the matter did not rest here. For in the Minutes of October 15th, we read that "the Old Church spirit" shown in the discussion of this Academy degree by the New Church papers in England and America, and the false doctrines that had been sent forth, led the students to consider "the desirability of having a New Church Family Paper which, while entertaining and instructing the people and keeping up their interest in the New Church, would be conducted in a true New Church spirit." The immediate result was a manuscript paper "The Social Monthly," which was at once instituted, with the formal object, duly communicated to the Chancellor, of merging it into a New Church Family Paper to supplement the Messenger. Two months later, this "Family Paper" appeared in print, as New Church Life-the first number being issued in January, 1881, under the editorial management of the theological members of the "Gymnasium," with the addition of Mr. Anshutz. This paper seems to have absorbed all the time that had hitherto been devoted to the "Gymnasium," for the meetings of that body ceased after January, 1881. But we have anticipated events.
The fourth commencement of the Academy School was held in June, 1880, when the degree of B. Th. was granted to the two graduates of the Divinity School, and the degree of B. A. to four graduates of the college. The Baccalaureate Address was given by the Rev. G. N. Smith.
School opened in the following September (1880) with five theological students (increased in December to six, but later on, decreased by the death of one of the students). Here we must again note that the distinction between the college and theological school was not very strict; all who were studying for the ministry were called theological students, even though their main studies were still in the college, and in company with students who had no thought of entering the ministry.
Bishop William Fredric Pendleton.
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Though the Theological School was now well established as "the primary use" of the Academy, yet there was much anxiety as to its maintenance. Mr. Stuart was in failing health; Dr. Burnham was fast becoming blind, and the time of both Mr. Stuart and Mr. Tafel was very fully occupied in editorial work for the Academy. "The school (wrote Mr. Benade) will need new teachers in the future and they are to be prepared. This is a more important use than that of pastors." Much thought was also given at this time to the preparation of teachers for New Church schools-a subject included by Mr. Benade in his instruction to theological students. In February, 1881, Mr. Benade, after noting the fact that there were no new students in the College, continues: "At the end of their theological course our theologians may leave without any to succeed them. The prospect is not alarming for us, but it is not so pleasant for the Church. If we are left without theological students, I shall take it as an indication of Divine Providence that we are to begin at the other end of the line, now that we have provided a certain number of workers. If our students do not find places as ministers, we can make places for them as teachers of children and youth; and will not this be better? With the kindergarten and primary schools, we can prepare children for the higher schools-the college and theological seminary. When once we have the whole training in our hands we can lay out a more thorough course, and may hope to produce vastly better results than any yet attained, encouraging as these are and have been. My mind is setting ever more strongly in the direction of elementary schools, and we must have teachers for them, brought up with us in the sphere of the Church. We might start a school of boys now, if we had the teaching force. So you see we are looking forward, and are thinking of the chief use of the Academy and its perpetuation." The prospect of an empty theological school, here envisaged by Mr. Benade years ago, was never realized; for the School has never lacked students.
Mr. Benade's words, however, were significant of, what was soon to follow. For shortly after they were penned, the Academy decided to establish a Boys' School. This was opened in September, 1881, the teaching force being supple mented by theological students who, as Mr. Benade stated, "can only be benefited by engaging in the work of teaching, whilst continuing their theological studies." He added "we can thus educate our future teachers and professors."
The Boys' School occupied the room at Cherry Street formerly occupied by the College and Divinity School. Consequently, from September, 1881, the latter met at Mr. Benade's house, 110 Friedlander Street, where rooms were set aside for the classes.
In May, 1882, when Mr. Benade removed from Friedlander Street, the house was purchased by the Academy and was then devoted to the use of the College and Theological School. The Library and Book Room were also established there.
At the time of the opening in September, 1882, the faculty had been reduced by the retirement of Dr. Burnham, owing to almost total blindness, and by the death of Mr. Stuart. There were four theological students; but one of these had been licensed to preach, and had then been sent to the German Society in Chicago, where he was to continue his theological studies for the degree of B. Th., under the supervision of the Rev. W. F. Pendleton. The death of Mr. Stuart, and the extending work of the Academy, made it necessary to look outside the Church for help in conducting the school. In the beginning of 1883, therefore, Professor August Simons, a man who had been somewhat interested in the New Church, was employed to teach Hebrew and Greek. It was at this time also that the Theological School gave what may be called its first post-graduate course. The sole pupil was the Rev. Mr. Bostock, recently appointed headmaster of the Boys' School, who took a weekly course in New Church Education from the Chancellor. In June, 1883, Mr. Bostock was appointed professor of Rhetoric and Mathematics in the College and Divinity School, being thus the first graduate of the Academy to become a professor in its schools.
The extension of the work of the schools was a frequent question of discussion in the Council of the Academy; for it had become very definitely determined that the Academy would not be complete until it embraced students of all departments. In 1882, a kindergarten was established by Miss Malvina Boericke, and, although this was a private undertaking, nevertheless, in a meeting of the Academy Council, it was referred to as "a department of our school." However, it was discontinued in a little over a year, owing to the failing health of the teacher.
In the following year, January, 1884, Mr. Benade commenced his famous "Conversations on Education." These classes, while intended primarily for those preparing to become New Church ministers and teachers, were also open to the public. They continued for over two years. In passing, it may be remarked that during the spring term of this year the enthusiasm inspired by Mr. Benade's lectures on Correspondences and the Ancient Church led two of the theological students to commence the study of Assyriology in the University of Pennsylvania under Professor Hilprecht. Mr. Benade gave great encouragement to these studies, for it was his firm belief that, whenever possible, theological students, in order to fit themselves to enter into the study of the Ancient Church, should take up the study not only of Hebrew, but also of Arabic, Ethiopic and Hieroglyphics.
The opening of the eighth year of the school, in September, 1884, witnessed two events of far-reaching importance. The first was the introduction into the faculty of the Rev. W. F. Pendleton, who has taught in the Theological School continuously from that time to the present. The call of another professor of theology had become an imperative necessity, and Mr. Pendleton's main duties were in the theological department, where his influence gradually led to the extension of instruction in the letter of the Word and in the philosophical works of Swedenborg. Shortly after Mr. Pendleton's arrival, Dr. Farrington, the professor of anatomy, had ceased to deliver lectures owing to failing health, and it was fortunate for the school that his place could be taken by one who was a doctor of medicine as well as a theologian.
An early picnic at "Alnwick Grove".
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The second outstanding event was the extension of the Academy's education to include a Girls' School. A "Provisional Girls' School" under the unofficial auspices of the Academy, had been established by Mrs. Hibbard, assisted by Miss A. E. Grant, in February, 1884, in Mrs. Hibbard's house, opposite the Cherry Street school. But in September the Academy formally accepted this school as one of its own departments, and it was then conducted, still under Mrs. Hibbard's management, at 2027 Vine Street.
The ninth year of the school, opening in September, 1885, was to be the last in which the College and Divinity School was located in Friedlander Street. The growth of the college had made this necessary, and, moreover, it was deemed desir able to bring the different departments of the Academy's educational work under a single roof so far as possible. Accordingly a house was secured (1700 Summer Street) which was large enough to accommodate, on the third story, the College and Divinity School; on the second, the Girls' School, and on the ground floor the Book Room and Library-which latter, owing to the many rich acquisitions made by Mr. Benade when in Europe, and also to accessions by gifts and purchases, had now grown to considerable proportions, especially in books on the theology and history of the New Church. The new home of the Academy was held merely on a short lease, for the Council was already looking forward to a suitable home for the whole of its schools. "The necessity for a summer exit because of the excessive heat (writes Mr. Benade in August) has confirmed, more and more, my conviction that if we are able to purchase property for our school, we ought to seek a locality out of the built-up parts of the city—somewhere near the park on the other side of the Schuylkill."
The schools commenced sessions in their new home at Summer Street in September, 1885, with seven theological students, but without the valuable aid of the professor of anatomy and physiology, Dr. E. A. Farrington, who died in the following December. It was in December also that Dr. Simon left, his place being taken to some extent by the two senior theological students. Two new students had been promoted from the Boys' School, and two more had arrived from England, where they had completed the course laid down for theological students by the English Conference. An eighth student, Ansgarius Boren, was added in the following spring.
In September, 1886, the College and Divinity School included twelve theological students, the largest number it has ever had. This year was the last in Summer Street, for being desirous of bringing all its schools to one locality, the Academy had purchased the property at 1821 Wallace Street, and had replaced the stable at the back of this property with a school building (on North Street) intended for the Boys' School. In the spring term of 1887 (April 3rd), it was necessary to vacate Summer Street, and the new buildings were then occupied by the different schools the College and Divinity Schools and the Girls' School—to which had now been added a primary department, being conducted in the building on Wallace Street, and the Boys' School in the new building on North Street. The dedication of these buildings, however, was not held until January, 1888, after extensive alterations had been completed. The Cherry Street building, in which all the annual Commencements had hitherto been held, and which had been given to the Academy by the Trustees of Mr. Benade's old society, was now no longer used and was sold to the Advent Society.
At the opening of the twelfth year of the College and Divinity School in September, 1888, the faculty included only two of the earlier members of the Academy. the Rev. W. H. Benade and the Rev. W. F. Pendleton. Mr. Stuart had died, Mr, Burnham's blindness had entirely incapacitated him, Mr. Tafel had resigned and Mr. Bostock had been a member of the faculty for only one year, after which he had taken up pastoral work in Chicago. Additions to the faculty were therefore necessary, and these additions were made from the school's own graduates—the Rev. E. J. E. Schreck becoming professor of theology, the Rev. E. S. Price, professor of English, and the Rev. C. Th. Odhner, professor of Greek and Latin. Mr. Schreck resigned in 1896, some eight years later. In addition to these members of the faculty, the College and Divinity School engaged Mr. Boren to teach history, and Professor Gunther to teach mathematics and languages. Professor Gunther died in December, 1890, when his place was filled by Mr. von Wening (languages) and Mr. Wylie (mathematics). It may be added also that in the years 1889 to 1890, the Rev. L. G. Jordan taught elocution to the theological students.
At the Commencement held in June, 1892, marking the close of the fifteen year of the Academy Schools, the degree of M. A. was given for the first time, the recipients who were thus honored, being the earliest divinity students of the Academy who still remained in its sphere of influence, namely the Rev. Messrs. E. C. Bostock, E. J. E. Schreck and Andrew Czerny. Though a college degree, the M. A. was nevertheless conferred by the same faculty which granted theological degrees—for the College and Divinity School were still organically one. Several years later after the two departments had become separated, the Academy granted the degree of M. A. to the second of the Academy's earliest students, the Rev. John Whitehead.
The Commencement in 1892 also marked the graduation of five young lady students from the "Normal School." This was a new department of the Academy's education which had been established in 189o, and which realized for the first time Mr. Benade's earlier hopes of a school for the training of teachers for New Church children.
The following school year, 1892-93, was the last in which Chancellor Benade taught in the College and Theological School. Full charge of this department was then handed over to Vice-Chancellor Pendleton, Mr. Benade confining himself to religious instruction in the Girls' School.
The last students to obtain the degree of B. Th. from the College and Divinity School were Messrs. Cowley, Klein and Stebbing, who graduated in June, 1896; for in that month it was decided to separate the two departments, the Vice Chancellor retaining charge of the Theological School, and the Rev. E. S. Price being put at the head of the College.
The old Lesher house and addition.
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All the Academy Schools moved to Huntingdon Valley, now Bryn Athyn, in 1897. In that same year the Theological School was formally placed by the Academy, under the charge of the Bishop of the General Church of the New Jerusalem, and it has continued under this charge ever since. A curriculum was then laid down covering a course of three years' duration, and this curriculum, with varying minor alterations and adaptations to the needs of the time, has remained in force to the present day.
In all eighty-five students have attended the Theological School of the Academy. This number includes two who died while pursuing their courses, two New Church ministers who attended for a single year as guest-students, and the five students now attending the School.
The village of Bryn Athyn c. 1900.
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The remaining seventy-six students include thirteen who were in the School for only one year or less, nine who were in the School for more than one year but who did not complete their course, and fifty-four who completed their course, forty-nine of whom were ordained into the ministry. Of the whole fifty-four, one only has left the New Church. The others either are now actively engaged in the service of the Church or have devoted many years of their life to such service—forty-six in the General Church and seven in other bodies of the New Church.
The forty-six in the General Church include twenty-six ministers and three teachers who are now in active service; seven ministers and one research worker who were in such service until the day of their death; and nine ministers who are not now active in the ministry.
Dean of the Theological School