GFES/WES History

History

George Fox Evangelical Seminary began in 1947 as the Western School of Evangelical Religion. In 1951, it became Western Evangelical Seminary. The original campus was 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 changed its name on Jan. 1, 2000, to George Fox Evangelical Seminary. The site of the seminary is now the university'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."

George Fox 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.

The curriculum now includes not only the Masters of Divinity, the foundational degree for pastoral ministry, but also the MA in Intercultural Studies, the MA in Ministry Leadership, and the MA in Spiritual Formation, delivered either locally in Portland or in an online learning community. The MA in Theological Studies degree, with emphases in Bible, Christian History and Theology, or Christian Earthkeeping continues to serve those called to teaching or eventual doctoral study. The Doctor of Ministry degree, for experienced pastors who hold the MDiv or its equivalent, is a cohort-style online program with three  tracks: Leadership and Spiritual Formation, Semiotics and Future Studies, and Leadership and Global Perspectives. 

The MDiv, MA in Intercultural Studies, MA in Ministry Leadership, MA in Spiritual Formation, MA (Theological Studies), and DMin degrees are approved by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities also certifies the seminary's programs. This dual accreditation is maintained now through George Fox University and assures students of the highest academic and professional standards.