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A Brief History of PUTS

PCUSA Missionary Samuel A. Moffett gave birth to the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary.

Missionary Moffett began teaching Chong-Sub Kim and Ki-Chang Pang at his home in Pyongyang in 1901. And in 1903, the Presbyterian Council decided to officially start the theological education in Korea.
In the beginning, missionaries from each Presbyterian synod went to Pyongyang to teach a course which was designed to give three months of study and nine months of ministry in a five year span.
In June of 1907, the first class of seven students graduated from the theological course, and among them were the first ordained pastors of Korea: Sun-Joo Kil, Suk-Jin Han, and Ki-Pung Lee.

When "March First" Independence Movement broke out in 1919, the seminary school had to close down temporarily due to many students and alumni being arrested and put in prison for their leadership in this movement. In September 1938, the Presbyterian General Assembly was illegally forced to uphold the Japanese Shinto worship by the Japanese Empire. However, the seminary boldly objected to the decree of worship and closed its doors. Then led by a pro-Japanese group, the Presbyterian General Assembly established another Presbyterian Seminary in Pyongyang in1940 to continue educating future ministers of Korea, and Rev. Phil Keun Chae was inaugurated as the President. At the same time, Chosun Seminary was established by the leading of Elder Dae-Hyun Kim in Seoul, and Rev. Jae-Joon Kim was the acting president.

Upon liberation from Japanese imperialism in 1945, the communist regime was established in North Korea and the Presbyterian Seminary was closed down as a result. Simultaneously, the Presbyterian General Assembly approved Chosun Seminary as the official seminary school and continued to educate future ministers. Some of the pastors and laymen who were arrested due to their resistance (so-called "released Christians") toward Shintoism during the Japanese occupation, established another seminary called the Korea Seminary in Busan. Meanwhile, fifty one seminarians attending Chosun Seminary in Seoul petitioned to the Presbyterian General Assembly stating their refusal to study under Rev. Jae Joon Kim because of his theology. As a result, the General Assembly approved the Presbyterian Seminary at Namsan in Seoul as the official seminary and continued to provide theological education especially to those who came from Chosun Seminary. Hence, two seminaries came to exist under one General Assembly.

While Presbyterian Church was having an immense conflict with the issue of the "released Christians" at the General Assembly in 1950, the Korean War broke out. The "released Christians", who were centered on Korea Seminary, separated themselves from the General Assembly and established the "Korea Party".

The General Assembly made a decision to establish a General Assembly Seminary by uniting Chosun Seminary and the Presbyerian Seminary. However, Chosun Seminary opposed the decision of the General Assembly and continued to administrate its school separately. They finally established their own independent denomination called the Christ Presbyterian in 1953. The General Assembly moved the General Assembly Seminary from Taegu, where it was first begun, to Seoul in 1953.

The General Assembly Seminary then held classes at the Shinto shrine site in Namsan and planned to build its facilities there. The land was government owned so the seminary had to buy it from the government and get a building permit. In the course of getting a permit, the President defrauded the building fund and had to resign. There was a division over this resignation, between those who supported the President versus those that demanded his resignation. Hence in 1959, the General Assembly split in Daejeon. The party that supported the President built the school facility in Sadang-dong and kept its name General Assembly Seminary. While the other party, called the Ecumenical Party, purchased a property (19,000 pyeong, which is about 15 acres) in Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu of Seoul and built brand new buildings. They launched as the Presbyterian Seminary with the accreditation from the government in 1961. Presbyterian Seminary established the Graduate School in 1966 and changed their name to Presbyterian Theological College in 1973. It established a joint Doctor of Ministry program with San Francisco Theological Seminary. Presbyterian Seminary received accreditation to open a Master of Divinity program in 1980. The D.Min. program changed its partner to McCormick Theological Seminary in 1992 and once again changed its name to the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary in 1993, and the Graduate School of World Mission was established. Moreover, the Graduate School of Ministry and the Graduate School of Education were both established in October of 1995, as well as the Graduate School of Music in November of 1996. On May 15, 2001, PUTS celebrated its Centennial Anniversary and in July 2001, PUTS established the Graduate School of Ministry for the Th.M. and the D.Min. programs.

Based on its motto, "Pietas et Scientia", and the Creeds and Constitution of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, PUTS continues to educate students to be good shepherds who lay down their lives for the people of God.