School Histories


Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

At the 1862 Wisconsin Synod convention President Johannes Bading told the delegates about the deep-felt need for pastors that the synod had experienced since its founding in 1850. And the problem wasn’t getting any better.

“I believe that since the beginning of the synod the praesidium of synod has not felt the lack of preachers as they did this past synodical year. Old synodical congregations have been standing orphaned for many months.

So then, how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one about whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? —Romans 10:14

Requests for preachers coming from new congregations who had not as yet joined the synod could not be granted even a hearing. … We must dig a well in our country, in our synod, that will supply the workers. If we expect to wait with the founding of such an institution until we are well-fixed financially, it will never materialize. … Well, then, dear brothers and friends, let us at this synodical convention draw up a plan for the establishment of an educational institution.

At the next convention, Bading noted how the synod “must always return to the matter of erecting our own theological seminary. The desire for it has long been expressed, the plan of founding it was pretty well thoroughly discussed at the last synod convention, now the time has come that it be vigorously implemented.” Bading encouraged the delegates not to focus so much on finances. While granting that they needed to be good stewards and do appropriate planning, “with [discussion of] costs alone, nothing is done [and] that discourages more in going ahead with the founding of a seminary. We have to place our trust for the costs in the almighty Savior.”

After many long years of stalling, the delegates finally pulled the trigger. During the afternoon of June 1, 1863, the convention resolved to establish a seminary, although an important question remained. Where should the seminary be located? The lot finally fell to Watertown, Wisconsin.

Since then, the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary, later named Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, has had several homes. But its purpose has always remained the same: to raise up men to preach the gospel. The timeline below highlights some the most important milestones in our seminary’s history.

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