Underwood Center for Global Education
New Brunswick’s Long History of Participation in Global Mission
The New Brunswick Theological Seminary’s bylaws establish its mission “to educate persons and strengthen communities for transformational, public ministries in church and society.” In its 235 year-plus history, the seminary’s faculty and alumni have taken leading roles in the ministry and missions of the Reformed Church in America and other Christian denominations, in the parish, academy, hospital, and other professions. We are proud to state that we have had an alumnus in the mission field since 1789.
Because of the work and reputation of alumni who became prominent missionaries, the seminary became well known in the nineteenth century. David Abeel (B.D. 1826), served as a missionary throughout the world, including in Indonesia, Southeast Asia and China. Several members of the Scudder family, including Jared Waterbury Scudder (B.D. 1855), received their theological training at the seminary before serving as missionaries in India. Alumnus John van Nest Talmage (B.D. 1845) served for over forty years in China in the American Reformed Mission. His younger brother, the Rev. Dr. Thomas DeWitt Talmage (B.D. 1856) became known for his pulpit oratory, drawing large crowds to hear his sermons. Talmage’s sermons were later published in 3,000 journals and said to reach 25 million readers worldwide. One of the main buildings on the seminary’s campus was Zwemer Hall (built 1966, razed 2013), named for Samuel Marinus Zwemer (M.A. 1890), a missionary in the Middle East. Zwemer, who served in Basra, Bahrain, the Arabian Peninsula, and later in Egypt from 1891 to 1929, believed that distributing literature was effective in spreading God’s word. Horace Grant Underwood (B.D. 1884), served as a missionary in Korea, and was influential in establishing several educational institutions with the financial support of his brother, John T. Underwood, a typewriter entrepreneur and manufacturer.
To honor Dr. Underwood’s long commitment to missions on the Korean peninsula, the seminary formed the Underwood Center of Global Christianity to both celebrate the achievements of this great mission as well as provide needed historical reflection to build a stronger future for global missions. The Underwood Center has been charged to educate persons and strengthen communities for transformational, public ministries in church and society on a global scale and international context.
One program offered by the Center for Global Christianity is the annual Underwood International Symposium, held in Seoul, Korea each spring. The symposium is co-sponsored by the Saemoonan Church, the first church established by Dr. Underwood. The keynote speakers for the Symposium have been leaders in theological education:
2008 President Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary
2009 Thomas Long, Emory University
2010 Susan Hardman Moore, University of Edinburgh
2011 Ron Snider, Palmer Theological Seminary
2012 Wesley Granberg-Michealson, Reformed Church in America
2013 Diana Butler Bass, Author and Church Historian
2014 Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University
2015 130th Anniversary Celebration of the Korean Mission co-sponsored with Drew University
2016 Jeffery Japinga, McCormick Theological Seminary
2017 Gregg Mast, New Brunswick Theological Seminary
2018 Miroslav Volf, Yale Center for Faith and Culture
2019 Sarah Coakley, Cambridge University
2020-2021 hiatus due to pandemic
2022 John Coakley, New Brunswick Theological Seminary
The New Brunswick Theological Seminary International Summer School of Theology
The center also hosts the biannual NBTS International Summer School of Theology. This international summer educational opportunity is offered in collaboration with the International Reformed Theological Institute, the Protestant Theological University, and VU University Amsterdam. The Institute explores international relevant theological topics from Dutch, American, Hungarian, Romanian, Moluccan, and other scholarly perspectives. This program is set in the international city of Amsterdam, the school provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in conversation with leading Dutch thinkers, as well as students and scholars from other countries.
The school is held in the facilities of the Protestant Theological University housed within VU University Amsterdam and students will stay in residence nearby. The schedule includes time for participants to explore Amsterdam and vicinities in Netherlands with its varied cultural and historical opportunities. All lectures are in English.
The Oman Immersion
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, in cooperation with the Al Amana Center offers an eight-to-ten day experience usually beginning in late December and concluding early January. The trip includes dialogue with Muslim students, an introduction to Islamic theological studies, as well travel in and around Muscat. Oman is considered by many to be one of the most stable of all Middle Eastern countries, practicing a very irenic form of Islam that encourages dialogue and understanding. Previous participants have characterized this experience as life-changing. Click here to read about the January 2023 trip.
The Underwood Memorial
The Seminary commissioned a sculptor, Dr. Charles McCollough, to create a bust of Dr. Underwood to be placed in perpetuity in Gardner A. Sage Library. Dr. Underwood spent many hours in Sage Library preparing for ministry. The Seminary is grateful for a donation from the United School of Theology at Yonsei University towards this memorial.
The Underwood Mission to Korea
Through the generosity of Praise Presbyterian Church in Somerset, New Jersey, the Seminary has produced a video highlighting the ministry of The Rev. Dr. Horace G. Underwood and its roots in the Seminary’s rich mission history. View it in either English or Korean.
|English Version||Korean Version|
You may participate in this project through your giving to New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
Checks Payable to: NBTS (The Underwood Program or Underwood Chair).
New Brunswick Theological Seminary
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New Brunswick, NJ 08901
In the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Horace Grant Underwood’s death, 연세대학교 Yonsei University held an event on October 12, 2016 to honor him and dedication to the Korean society. While watching the video, we will remember Underwood’s work and contribution to the Korean society and take a moment to think how we continue to carry on his work.