Community gathers to honor Founder of Seminary of the Southwest
Each year in October, Seminary of the Southwest pauses to celebrate the life of its founder, Bishop John Hines. Bishop Hines founded Southwest in 1952 when post-war growth saw an increased need for priests in the Episcopal Church, and thus seminaries to train them. As Bishop of Texas, Bishop Hines envisioned a seminary that would be “a new kind of theological school.”
“We sought to have a first-class seminary which would not be just a local seminary – we wanted to avoid that – but which would eventually be a seminary of the whole church. It would utilize the wide open still frontier-like resources of the Southwest in terms of ideas and hopes and expectations and also fiscal realizations, and produce a seminary which could in reality not mind so much whether its graduates are ordained into the ordained ministry – although that would probably be its primary thrust – but would care whether or not their theological education was centered around some kind of dialogue between the Christian faith and culture.”
– Bishop John E. Hines, Southwest founder in an interview with Hugh Downs
As Presiding Bishop during the Civil Rights Era, Hines is credited for leading the Episcopal Church toward an identity that embraced positions involving social justice. Wrote the New York Times upon his death in 1997, “His commitment to social justice prompted his elevation by the Episcopal House of Bishops to spiritual head of the church’s three million members in an extraordinarily disruptive period. From 1965 to 1974, he pursued profound changes in the church’s structure and its outlook. Bishop Hines kept his church in the forefront of ecumenical and civil rights movements.” Read the entire obituary here.
Twenty years after his death, with a current student body from 26 different dioceses, his vision for Seminary of the Southwest to be a seminary for the whole church endures.