Exploring Our History and Heritage

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The seminary began as a passionate vision of Dr. Delbert Vaughn, a Houston pastor of the Evangelical Friends Church, with the able partnership of his wife, Carol. Houston Graduate School of Theology was officially registered with the State of Texas in 1983 and for fifteen years was affiliated with the Evangelical Friends Church—Mid America. The school was first housed in the Texas Medical Center due to the gracious hospitality of the Institute of Religion. Drs. Ron and Barbara Worden began nearly three decades of academic leadership that helped the school secure accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 1986.

Dr. David Robinson became the school’s second president in 1997. Programs continued to expand and the seminary moved to other leased property—the Adams Petroleum Building in 1987 and Central Congregational Church in 1996. Dr. Robinson strategically helped HGST secure accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) in 2001.

HGST was the first Protestant ATS-accredited seminary based in Houston and is still the predominant local provider of theological education offering classes in the daytime, evenings, weekends, and online.

Under the leadership of the third president, Dr. Keith Jenkins, the academic programs of the school were significantly strengthened and the student body grew considerably. During most of his tenure, HGST operated from a commercial property in northwest Houston and became an officially freestanding institution that affirms a constituency comprised of many denominational heritages. Likewise, the school continued to embrace its emerging ethnic diversity.

HGST’s current president, Dr. Becky Towne, began service in 2020, following President Dr. James Furr who had been serving as president since 2010. Both organizational and academic dimensions were enhanced. The seminary currently offers four master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees.

Since August 2013, HGST has occupied newly remodeled space on the campus of Willow Meadows Baptist Church near the southwest corner of the city’s inner loop. The multiyear lease well positions HGST to serve the entire metropolitan area and beyond. In September 2014, after prayerful discernment and dialogue, seminary leaders adopted a strategic plan called HGST 2020 that describes their understanding of God’s exciting dream for the seminary. Building on a rich history of excellent service, bright days are surely ahead for this pioneering faith and learning community!

In spring 2021, we announced an exciting new kingdom-minded partnership with Kairos.

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