Purpose and diversity statements

Moved by God’s love in Jesus Christ, San Francisco Theological Seminary prepares persons for transformational ministries of justice, peace, and healing, which advance the Church’s hopeful, loving engagement with the world.

As an ecumenical Christian graduate program, we offer a rigorous education, focused on critical theological reflection that equips graduates from all walks of life to meet the urgent needs of our times through both time-honored and innovative ministries.

Founded in 1871 and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we value dialogue and engagement with other religions and faith traditions. Our grounding in the Reformed tradition fosters faith-filled engagement in public life and service to others. Located on the Pacific Rim and inspired by the diverse global expressions of Christian faith, we partner with educational institutions throughout the world to enrich our program and expand our understanding of God’s redemptive work in human history.

SFTS is a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of Protestant and Catholic theological schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. SFTS students take classes at all the GTU seminaries as well as the GTU’s centers and affiliates for the study of Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and other world religions.

As a community, we are united in the desire to create an inclusive atmosphere where diversity flourishes in all its forms. We are called to live inside God’s beautiful family, and that means pursuing justice, knowledge, dignity, and well-being for all people. From our students to our staff to our faculty and beyond, we want to foster a just community that embraces differences—both here on campus and in the world.

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SFTS: We Will Not Be Silent

Not now. Not when everyone’s voice is critical to disrupting the silence that make humans more vulnerable to dominant and hegemonic structures of injustice. At SFTS, we are responding to the omnipresent sin of injustice and inaction through our Imago DEI Statement and Credo which affirm that the image of God is expressed through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We affirm that all people are created diverse, included, and equal. While the truth of this statement is still contested in church, state, nation, and world, we affirm that equity is essential for our students, faculty, staff, administers, and society as a whole.  

We are at critical risk of the annihilation of the prophetic vision of Imago DEI. When we speak of Imago DEI, we are not only speaking conceptually. We are talking about things that happen to the minds, bodies, and spirits of people. When we are silent about assaults on the body, brain, and spirit, we not only contribute to its propagation, we create a more ontologically violent world. Therefore, we begin with this acknowledgment: SFTS exists on Indigenous land. We acknowledge the ancestral homelands of those who walked these lands before us and those from this lineage still living here. This land acknowledgement is one small act in the ongoing process of working to be in good relationship with the land and the people of the land. We acknowledge that the diversity and cultural richness of the Bay Area is an ideal geographical location for partnerships, programs, curriculum development, and collaborative research that sustain all people on these lands across California, USA, Pacific Rim, and the globe. With this acknowledgment, we seek to help disrupt the inequalities within intersecting systems of oppression that too often have a disproportionately negative impact on people of color in the USA.

We believe that theological education is not simply a personal commitment to learn, teach, research and administrate; not just an institutional commitment to mission; not just an ecclesial matter of reproducing the kinds of religious leaders we prefer with the standards we have established; but, that theological education is a spiritual responsibility to the world to seek truth, knowledge and wisdom; to engage life-giving, transformative promises of justice; and to practice radical love. When we speak of radical love, we do not mean love that is sentimental or maudlin.  We mean love that seeks critical consciousness and mutual humanization, takes risks, empowers, and liberates. We at SFTS will not hold on to the lies, illusions, and insinuations of a privileged utopia. As a school for theological education, we hold ourselves responsible to disrupt the complicity of silence. We commit to speaking and acting for diversity, equality, and inclusion. 

Imago D.E.I.

The Image of God Expressed Through Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

At San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS), our life together as an academic community, a spiritual community, and a school of the church is bound by a covenant relationship among students, faculty, and staff. To secure this implicit covenant, there are certain explicit policies we agree to observe. 

STATEMENT ON DIVERSITY 

"They shall come from the east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the community of God." (Luke 13:29) 

We the people and stakeholders at SFTS have produced the following statement to affirm our united commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in our community and a platform for recommended future actions to promote a heart-based collaboration. It is our intention to guide community transformation toward the prophetic vision of Imago DEI—the Image of God expressed through just diversity in our community and world. 

We at SFTS recognize that we live in a world where children of God suffer and feel forsaken as a result of dominant and hegemonic structures of injustice. In order to create and sustain a vital school of theological education that reflects the grace of God for all people and communities of care, we are committed to fulfilling the vision of diversity, equity and inclusion—a vision that lifts up a sense of promise for the entire community. We support a vision of theological education that empowers students to flourish as emissaries in the world and welcomes students from all over the world, of all languages and from varied social locations. 

We recognize that SFTS, affiliated with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is an ecumenical Christian graduate school celebrating 150 years of educating future and diverse religious leaders and scholars to serve in communities locally and all over the world. Rooted in humility, the SFTS community— students, staff, faculty, administrators and trustees alike—live out our faith and values as a Christian community while striving to foster a just and inclusive campus that embraces difference and celebrates diversity.

We are united by our commitment to pursue knowledge, social justice, dignity, collaborative power and well-being for all peoples, and to meet the needs of our ever-changing, interconnected global society. Rooted and grounded in the justice and love of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:7), we embrace a prophetic vision of: 

  • Relationships as the heart of our power to influence thought and carry out just practices in community
  • Solidarity in restorative acts of justice and in opposing injustice in all its forms
  • Equity, voice, access and opportunity regardless of title, status or sphere of influence 
  • Struggling to embody the Imago Dei, and to reengage even when it is hard and even when we fail 
  • Our strongest desire being our heart-based desire to seek the well-being of others in our beloved community 
  • Collaboration, reformation and transformation because we want to be transformed as we guide the way toward transformation 
  • Creating more critical awareness and practices of justice for all peoples and societies through the resources available to us as an institution for theological education

DIVERSITY CREDO 

At SFTS, we see a world where many children of God are excluded from the life of the church and other faith communities. They suffer. They feel abandoned. "Why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46) As a seminary and Christian community, we are united to be an inclusive place where diversity flourishes in all its forms. Why do we do this? God calls us. We are called to live inside God's beautiful family, and that means pursuing justice, knowledge, dignity, and well-being for all people. Especially as this big world gets smaller every day. "Even those I will bring to My holy mountain; And make them joyful in My house of prayer. For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." (Is. 56:7). And yes, diversity means diversity!

"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." (Deut. 10:17) 

Idea diversity 

Gender diversity

Ethnic diversity 

Racial diversity 

Language diversity 

Orientation diversity 

Ability diversity 

Age diversity 

Cultural diversity 

Nation diversity 

Religious diversity 

Environmental diversity 

From our students to our staff to our faculty to our trustees and beyond, we are committed to fostering a just community that embraces differences-both here on campus and around the world. Always celebrating one another. And always with humility. 

  • When we see injustice, we look to solidarity and restoration. 
  • When we cannot hear voices, we amplify them and lower our own. 
  • When we witness our community hurting, our hearts bend in compassion and care. 
  • When we reach an impasse, we will seek a Third Way. 
  • When we build walls, we seek collaboration and transformation to dismantle them. 
  • When we do not understand, we seek understanding. 
  • When we feel alone, we break down structures of isolation. Throughout it all, we recognize that this work is hard and absolutely vital. And we ask for grace along the journey. The Image of God is made of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. And SFTS will do all it can to reflect that image in its community, campus, and our greater world.