At Meadville Lombard Theological School, our mission is to educate students in the Unitarian Universalist tradition to embody liberal religious ministry in Unitarian Universalist congregations and wherever else they are called to serve. We do this to take into the world our Unitarian Universalist vision of justice, equity, and compassion.
The Meadville Theological School was founded in 1844 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, by Harm Jan Huidekoper, a prosperous businessman who had discovered Unitarianism and wanted to help spread its message of liberality and hope in the “west.” From its very beginning, no doctrinal test has ever been an admission requirement. Under the leadership of President Franklin Chester Southworth and Professor Anna Garlin Spencer, Meadville moved in 1926 to become a part of the vibrant University of Chicago academic community.
Lombard College, originally the Illinois Liberal Institute, was founded in 1851 in Galesburg, Illinois, and opened a theological department in 1881. A generous bequest by Chicago minister, the Rev. Dr. William Ryder, created the Ryder Divinity School of Lombard College. Ryder Divinity moved to Chicago in 1912 to affiliate with the University of Chicago Divinity School. In 1928, Ryder Divinity merged with the Unitarian seminary, Meadville. After years of financial challenges, Lombard College closed in 1930 and transferred its charter to the combined theological schools in Chicago.
From 1929 to 2011, Meadville Lombard was located at South Woodlawn Avenue in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.
In 2011, the school moved to downtown Chicago to share space in an innovative, environmentally sustainable building that houses the Spertus Institute at 610 S. Michigan Avenue.
Meadville Lombard is located on the sixth floor of this unique building, which features interconnected interior spaces and a one-of-a-kind, 10-story faceted window wall with spectacular views of the Chicago skyline, Grant Park, Millennium Park, and Lake Michigan. The school shares library space with Spertus, which specializes in accredited graduate degree and certificate programs in areas critical to the Jewish community and to broader communities in Chicago and beyond.
Meadville Lombard blends a variety of innovative but tested educational techniques—all to the benefit of students’ learning and leadership development.