History and Mission

Trinity's history is rich and varied, spanning over a century and a half. In 1830, the "German Theological Seminary" of the Ohio Synod, later known as the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary, was founded to meet the need for educating pastors in the Ohio region. The seminary began its life at Canton, but soon moved to Columbus. During its first decade it had but one theological professor, Wilhelm Schmidt.

gloria dei constructionIn 1840, Ohio Lutheranism suffered schism. The English Synod of Ohio and the Joint Synod of Ohio represented the two halves of the church that emerged, and that eventually became part of the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church respectively.

In 1845, the English Synod of Ohio founded Wittenberg College at Springfield. From the beginning it was designed to provide pastors for the church as well as members of other professions. Ezra Keller was the first theological professor, and first president, of the fledgling college. In 1906 the theological department was named Hamma Divinity School in recognition of the generosity of Michael and Almira Hamma. In 1964 Hamma received a large measure of autonomy within the Wittenberg structure and was renamed Hamma School of Theology.

By the early twentieth century, Hamma and ELTS had converged in many ways. They were united by a shared allegiance to the Lutheran Confessions, by the Common Service used by several Lutheran bodies in North America, and by much common history. They were still divided, however, by their respective ecclesiastical affiliations.

As the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America came to work closely together in theological education in the 1960s and 1970s, it became apparent that in the long run there should be only one Lutheran seminary in Ohio. In 1974, the decision was made that Hamma and ELTS should consolidate even before merger by the national churches. Trinity Lutheran Seminary opened its doors on September 1, 1978.

gloria dei crossAs a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, successor to the ALC and the LCA, Trinity stands essentially for that which its predecessors, ELTS and Hamma, stood for--commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to educational excellence, and to thorough preparation for Christian service.


Trinity Lutheran Seminary seeks to be what its name implies: a place where the community and relationships revealed in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity come to life. As a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Trinity Lutheran Seminary adheres to the statement of faith of that church in the Triune God which concludes with these words: “The church confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the church for God’s mission in the world.”

The seminary is a center for reflection, scholarship, and teaching that both sustains and helps in the continual renewal of the church. The seminary seeks to develop and sustain the highest possible level of theological expertise in its faculty and the greatest possible opportunity for educational achievement in its program resources.