Portland Seminary began in 1947 as the Western School of Evangelical Religion. In 1951, it became Western Evangelical Seminary with the support of Oregon Gov. Mark O. Hatfield, with the original campus on the Evangelical Church conference grounds at Jennings Lodge, east of Portland.
In 1993, the seminary moved to a new centrally located and more easily accessible campus near Interstate 5 and highways 99W and 217. In 1996, it merged with George Fox College to form George Fox University, and on Jan. 1, 2000, its name was changed to George Fox Evangelical Seminary. More recently, on Jan. 9, 2017, the name was changed to Portland Seminary to strengthen its regional presence and expand its national outreach. It is located at George Fox's Portland Center.
The first students came from the founding denominations: the Evangelical Church of North America, Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, the Free Methodists, the Nazarenes, and the Church of God, Anderson. Today, more than 35 denominations are represented in the student body.
When the seminary began, it fulfilled the dream of its first president, Paul Petticord, and other regional Christian leaders, who recognized the need for a Wesleyan seminary in the Pacific Northwest. The ideal was set forth in an early catalog:
"...to train men and women in the definite doctrines of faith set forth in the constitution and bylaws and to give them such definite guidance and training that they may go out into the world with a positive message of salvation possible only in Jesus Christ. Not only is this training to be scholastic, but deeply spiritual. Not only theoretical, but practical in the usage of necessary methods essential for this day and age. This training is to be given by professors who are of high scholarship and of practical abilities and experienced in winning the lost to a definite relationship in Christ."
Portland Seminary faculty members come from a variety of evangelical backgrounds. They share a common commitment to sound scholarship, warmhearted personal faith, and effective pastoral practice that continues to characterize the seminary's approach to theological education.