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The Name: Returning to Something New
Andover Newton Takes on New Name at YDS

A new name harkens us back to the past and calls us forward into the future.

The formal agreement between Andover Newton Theological School and Yale Divinity School involves a change in Andover Newton’s name. In its Yale incarnation, the school will be known as Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School, which signals both continuity with the past and a fresh beginning.

Andover Newton will remain in operation as a Massachusetts school for the immediate future so that current students can complete their studies during the next academic year (2017-2018) or earn Andover Newton degrees through courses elsewhere through June 2019. The school will retain the name Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts while still in operation there.

The new name marks a shift that underscores the changing nature of our community, while allowing us to retain both mission and name recognition. For students who graduated in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, this may feel like a dramatic change. And yet, as we reflect on both the nature of 21st century theological education and our history as an academic institution founded with the intent to train Christian clergy, this new name isn’t so new after all. It grows organically from the germination of faithful reflection, memory of a multifaceted history, and acknowledgment of a new context.

Using separate yet similar names reminds all of us that while we move forward with two campuses, we continue to uphold the same mission: to remain deeply rooted in Christian faith, and radically open to what God is doing now, and to educate inspiring leaders for the 21st century.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first definition of “seminary” is: “a special school providing education in theology, religious history, etc., primarily to prepare students for the priesthood, ministry or rabbinate.” That descriptor seems sufficient, without the adjective “theological” to modify it. A number of ATS schools are described as “seminary” without the modifier (e.g., Hartford Seminary).

“Seminary” and “seminarian” are common parlance when compared with “theological school” and “theological school student.” How often has any one of us asked a question like: “Where did you go to seminary?” rather than, “Where did you go to theological school?”

In a university setting like Yale, the word “school” means something specific. Schools are used to designate different areas of study (eg: School of Nursing, Forestry School, Divinity School, etc.). Reflecting poetically, “Andover Newton Theological School at Yale Divinity School” is redundant and awkward. This new name helps us distinguish between the Newton and New Haven campuses. It also has simple and elegant flow.

Over the course of our history we have had many names. The “Andover” branch of our school, at its founding in 1807, was known as “Theological Institution in Phillips Academy.” When the school was separately incorporated, in 1907, we became, “Andover Theological Seminary.”

The “Newton” branch of our school, at its founding in 1825, was christened, “Newton Theological Institution.” In fact, some long-time residents of Newton still refer to the hill as “Institution Hill;” before the road leading to campus was renamed, “Herrick Road,” it was “Institution Road.”

It was only when Andover and Newton officially merged in 1965 that we were described as a “school” in our title: Andover Newton Theological School. Perhaps our forebears chose the name “school” because it was neither “seminary” nor “institution.”  Perhaps our predecessors compromised, but in doing so they signaled that a new thing was being created in continuity with what had gone before. We seek the same today.

If a community can return to something new, then we are doing just that. Andover Newton Seminary harkens us back to the past and calls us forward into the future.

The Logo: Shapes and Colors of Partnership

As we consider our mission and identity in the context of congregational communities governed at the local church level, the shield -- or crest -- plays less of a role now than it once did. It is reminiscent of battle and coats of arms. As an institution that embraces a deep love for our world, we reflect on the prophetic words encouraging us to beat our swords into plowshares and to cast down our shields to embrace one another. How is it, then, a new logo will speak to who we are in this new context?

The purple and blue triangles coming together to form a square offer three images that conjure allusions to our community and mission:

  1. The triangles are indicative of the Trinity. We find the perfect example of community in the Trinity – three individual identities coming together to make a perfect whole; three individual identities that embrace communion as the truest and ultimate example of togetherness.
  2. The triangles recall two half squares -- or half quadrangles -- meeting together. This illustrates our campus quad in Newton and the Sterling Quadrangle in New Haven coming together. In historic New England, the common was often a quadrangle, where the community revolved around a shared public space, gathering for events, festivals, and worship services. It was the hub of belonging. These two triangles, which meet in the middle, represent two community hubs forming one.
  3. The two triangles signify compass points. These compass points indicate the direction of the journey, as well as the intentional movement of pilgrimage. The Sterling Quadrangle is not our first home; we have had several in our history. Each time we have moved in a bold new direction, we’ve pioneered new territory in order to find or build our new home. With each move, the process has involved a time of reorientation, which has, in truth, often come after a time of disorientation.

The purple and blue of the logo retain our historic school colors, with a slight modification to the shade of blue. By adopting Yale’s blue, we remember the history of our traditional colors and also integrate a new dimension into our identity. These two colors recall two liturgical seasons in our Christian tradition: times of hopeful anticipation, and times of reorienting ourselves toward the gospel. Both colors represent waiting for Jesus’ coming and return.

The white space in between is reminiscent of two of the holiest days on our calendar -- Christmas and Easter -- when God first entered the world as a tiny, defenseless child and then re-entered the world in victory over the finality of death. We honor the waiting and anticipation our own Andover Newton community has experienced -- both near and far -- and we celebrate something new. As the Prophet Isaiah wrote (43:19), “Behold, a new thing. It is already happening. Do you see it?”

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