Schools begin in minds and hearts-not in brick and mortar.
Denver Seminary began in the minds of several Colorado Conservative Baptist pastors, who presented the idea at the annual meeting of the Conservative Baptist Association of Colorado in May, 1950. In response, the association formed an organizing committee of Conservative Baptist leaders. In the ensuing months, these men secured an adequate building for the new school and led in the selection of the first faculty and Board of Trustees. After promotion began, inquiries came in from a number of prospective students. In September 1950, 31 students enrolled.
The next year marked the coming of Dr. Carey S. Thomas as president and Dr. Vernon C. Grounds as dean. In a relatively short time the school obtained governmental approval for education under the G.I. Bill. This was followed by approval for the training of foreign students and later by governmental recognition for the education of chaplains. The first graduating class (1952) consisted of six members, all of whom had transferred to Denver from other schools.
In 1955, a new administrative arrangement was initiated with Dr. Vernon C. Grounds as president, Douglas V. Birk as administrative vice president, and Earl S. Kalland as dean. In the late 1950s, several professors joined the growing faculty and the first of a series of additional buildings was secured in the neighborhood of the original administration and classroom building. By the mid-1960s the faculty numbered 10 full-time professors. Twelve buildings stood on the campus and library volumes numbered 27,000.
In June 1962, Denver Seminary was granted associate membership in the American Association of Theological Schools (now the Association of Theological Schools). Shortly thereafter, a major study of the curriculum resulted in changes embodied in the academic catalog of 1965-67. Other standards of the accrediting association were achieved, but an adequate library building remained only in the planning stages.
In the summer of 1968, however, the school relocated on the south side of Denver. Purchasing 12 acres of ground and four buildings previously owned by the Kent Girls' School, the Seminary was able to convert the gymnasium into an attractive library equipped to house at least 80,000 volumes. The following year, three apartment buildings were erected on the grounds which provided 80 student housing units.
In 1971, full accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) was achieved. This was followed by full accreditation under the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1972.
In 1979, Dr. Haddon W. Robinson followed Dr. Grounds as the third president of the institution. Under his leadership, Denver Seminary continued to expand; faculty increased to 22 full-time and 25 adjunct professors. Five of the seven administrators received faculty status and the staff increased to 60 people. By 1992, the student body numbered over 600 and came from 40 states, 53 denominations and 15 countries.
In 1993, Dr. Edward L. Hayes assumed leadership of Denver Seminary, becoming the fourth president. Dr. Hayes previously served the Seminary as academic dean and professor of Christian education. Under Dr. Hayes' leadership, Denver Seminary was positioned to meet the spiritual and technological challenges of the 21st century. Dr. Hayes retired in December 1996, having served Denver Seminary with distinction for a total of 23 years.
In 1996, Dr. Clyde McDowell was named Denver Seminary's fifth president. Of special interest to Dr. McDowell was the revitalization of the inner-city churches of all ethnic backgrounds. In 1997, under Dr. McDowell's leadership, Denver Seminary became the first seminary to receive accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) for its counseling degree programs. Dr. McDowell also led Denver Seminary to reinvent its approach to seminary education by incorporating an intensive, contextualized mentoring experience into its core curriculum. His presidency ended with his death from a brain tumor.
In 1999, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Leith Anderson as interim president of Denver Seminary.
The Board appointed Dr. G. Craig Williford as Denver Seminary’s sixth president in August 2000. Dr. Williford’s desire to integrate theory and practice helped the Seminary continue to develop and expand the training and mentoring program which has become an essential part of a Denver Seminary education. Under his leadership, the student body grew to around 900 students, and the institution realized an increased level of economic viability.
In July 2005, Denver Seminary relocated to a beautiful, new and debt-free campus in Littleton, Colorado. Built from the ground up specifically for the Seminary, the campus features three buildings: an academic, leadership training center; a learning resource center, which is home to the library with over 166,000 books and bound periodicals plus room to expand, a bookstore, and the student center; and an administrative building with offices for faculty and staff plus the Shepherd’s Gate Counseling Center. Situated next to the Platte River, the campus offers Denver Seminary a home in which to grow and continue to equip leaders.
In 2008, the Board of Trustees appointed Pastor Gordon MacDonald as interim president of Denver Seminary.
In 2009, Dr. Mark S. Young was appointed the seventh president by the Board of Trustees. Dr. Young brings to Denver Seminary extensive experience as an international educator and theologian, as well as an abiding commitment to mission and transformation. His life’s passion is to align all that he is and all that he does with the eternal purpose of God -- the redemption of all peoples.
Today, over 4,500 graduates of Denver Seminary serve Christ throughout the world. Thus the dream of a group of pastors is now a vibrant reality – a significant factor in reaching the world for Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.