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Bishop James Walker Hood's Dream
Hood Theological Seminary is named after James Walker Hood who was a Bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church. During much of his career, Bishop Hood cherished a dream of training qualified Negro youths for the Christian ministry. Others in the denomination embraced his dream, and in 1879 a group of ministers from Concord, North Carolina and the surrounding area created the Zion Wesley Institute. In 1882, the citizens of Salisbury persuaded the Institute to move twenty miles north to that city. Since that time Salisbury has been the home of the Institute and its successors.
Rev. Price Assumes Presidency of the Institute
Having earlier discovered the diverse and outstanding talents of the Rev. Joseph C. Price, Bishop Hood encouraged him in 1882 to become the first president of the Institute. Under the presidency of Rev. Price, the Institute was granted a charter in 1887 by the state of North Carolina and renamed Livingstone College in honor of the noted Scottish physician and missionary to Africa, Dr. David Livingstone.
Seminary Becomes Reality
Livingstone College began planning to organize a theological department in 1892, but those plans did not materialize for another decade. Finally, on October 7, 1903, thirty-five students enrolled in the first class of a new bachelor of divinity (B.D.) program. In 1904 the theological department was upgraded to a school, and the Church began raising $20,000 for the construction of a building in which to house the Seminary. The cornerstone of the "Old Hood" building on the Livingstone College campus was laid in 1906, and the Seminary was named in honor of Bishop Hood. In 1965 the Church erected a new building for the Seminary on a parcel of land adjacent to the college, donated by Bishop and Mrs. Jacob Walls. The building was named W. J. Walls Center, in honor of Bishop and Mrs. Walls.
In 1998 the Seminary was accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS). In 1999 the Seminary was approved by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church to prepare ministers for ordination in that body.
Hood Begins Independent Operations
On July 1, 2001 the Seminary began operating independently of the College, and in March, 2002 the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the College's accrediting agency, acknowledged that the Seminary was a separate institution, independent of the College.
The Seminary has continued to grow in recent years. In 2002, the first twelve students enrolled in a new Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program. As of 2005, there are approximately 300 students in all programs, preparing for ministry in some fifteen different denominations.
The New Campus
Fresh Beginnings "Hood on the Move" was the theme for the Fall of 2005 as the seminary completed 40 years in the Walls Center on its way to the new campus on I-85. Phase One of the new construction was completed in time for the Fall semester to begin. The new campus now provides ample room for all aspects of the seminary's life.
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