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Declares It Should be Logical Choice of All University Men Entering Ministry Because It Reflects Harvard Spirit and Tradition

By Willard L. Sperry

Dr. Sperry is Dean of the Theological School, having been appointed to fill that position when the school was organized a few months ago. He has been connected with the University since 1917 as associate professor of practical theology and as a member of the Board of Preachers. This is the second article contributed by Dean Sperry on the religious work at the University.


The Theological School, in its present form only three months old, is, for the moment, the latest and newest of the Departments of the University. It was formed by the affiliation of the two oldest theological schools in New England, and with a single school standing between them in point of time, the two oldest theological schools in America, Andover Theological Seminary founded in 1908 and Harvard Divinity School formally organized in 1816.

Andover Seminary, founded at first outside the University, and the Divinity School organized within the University, were both of them natural expressions of the whole Harvard spirit and stand in the direct line of Harvard's nearly three hundred years of history. For prominent among the motives which led to the founding of the College was the desire to furnish a succession of trained men for the ministry of the New England Churches.

Influence on Religious Thought

It is a perfectly fair question whether any two other Theological Schools in the country have had as much influence on the religious thought and life of America as Harvard Divinity and Andover Seminary. These two Schools divided over a hundred years ago on theological matters, which have long since become, for the most part, ancient history. Some ten or fifteen years ago, Andover Seminary moved back to Cambridge from Andover Hill and from the setting at the centre of Phillips Anver, to re-establish the broken connection with Cambridge and Harvard. During the years that have intervened these two Schools have lived and worked here side by side in a spirit of entire co-operation. Last spring the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Andover Trustees agreed that the time had come to give fuller and more formal expression to this fact and the two Schools were affiliated, to form a single Faculty, a single curriculum, and a single student body.

100 Men Now Enrolled

The School shows, at the present moment, an enrollment of fifty men of its own, and a secondary enrollment of men coming in from other institutions for instruction of a further fifty men--a total of a hundred men registered in the School this Fall.

The School has as its two centers the old Divinity Hall on Divinity avenue and Andover Hall, on Francis avenue, the Gothic grey stone building to the east of the tennis courts at the end of Divinity avenue. In Divinity Hall are students' rooms, common rooms, and Chapel. In Andover Hall, the offices, recitation rooms, library, the Farrar Room, Andover Chapel, and a number of rooms for students.

Claim Upon Harvard Men

What claim has this School upon Harvard men who are thinking of entering the ministry and are deciding to enroll in some Theological School on graduation?

The School has first of all the claim of the whole Harvard spirit and tradition. Men here will bear out a statement made recently by one of the University preachers that there is no campus in the country where a more serious interest is taken in religion than the Harvard Yard. The religion of this University is not sentimentally pious, it is neither noisy nor fussy. But it is real. And whatever else a man wishes in a Theological School he wishes this atmosphere of intellectual and moral reality. No show of piety or no flavor of professionalism can make up for any suggestion of unreality. A man may enter the Harvard Theological School knowing that the School is true to the whole temper of the University life.

In the second place a man may enter this School knowing that he will find on its Faculty a competent body of Scholars. In this department of the University, as in all others, there are men teaching who are known the world over as masters of their craft. If men are drawn to professional schools in no small measure by the attraction of certain particular teachers, the Theological School in Harvard concedes nothing to any other such--School in the country.

Advantages of Whole University

In the third place this School keeps open to a man the advantages of the whole University. It is a serious thing for a man who has lived in the large and free air of a University like this to go on to a professional School that is out of touch with University life and cut off from University privileges. A man's horizon, under such conditions, shuts in, and his profession seems to him a limited and meagre affair, as contrasted with the large freedom and wide interests of undergraduate life. A man who has been, as an undergraduate, a member of a great University ought to go on to a professional school where his whole mental and moral life can run true to form; that means that his professional school ought to be an integral part of a University and if it is actually on the ground as is our case, so much the better.

Furthermore, this School grinds no particular denominational axes. A man coming to this University learns as an undergraduate that religion is broader and bigger than his own particular denomination. Once he has learned that lesson he never forgets it. And it irks him to feel that other men do not feel that fact as he has come to feel it. If he is to be a minister he will eventually have to work in some Church of the denomination to which he belongs or which he chooses. But he will render the best service to that denomination if he does his actual theological preparation in a School which shows him that denomination in perspective and as a part of the whole body of religious fact. The Harvard School of Theology trains men to enter the ministry with that outlook.

Fine Religious Laboratory

Finally, the School offers to men opportunity to get on with their professional training in a fine religious laboratory, Greater Boston, where there are preachers of the first rank to be heard and studied, where there are countless modern and adequately organized churches reaching out into and serving all phases of the life of a city. No man will be a minister who does not supplement his class room work with actual laboratory work. And this School aims to so develop its laboratory opportunities, that every student may have training in practice as well as theory. This field work may be either voluntary or "compensated". If "compensated" it will provide a man a good measure of self-support while in the School.

These are the opportunities and the claims which the Theological School in Harvard has upon Harvard men looking to the ministry.

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