The roots of the Lutheran Brethren Seminary are found in the great spiritual revivals of the 1890’s, in the Northwestern Free Church Mission School, and in the founding of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren in 1900.
In these spiritual revivals among Norwegian-American Lutherans in the 1890’s, large numbers of young people came to a knowledge of personal salvation, and craved an opportunity for Biblical studies beyond what was given in the local congregations.
In response to the need, Rev. Halvor Jenssen founded the first Lutheran Bible School in the United States, the Northwestern Free Church Mission School, in a farmhouse near Lowry, MN in 1897. The next year classes were held in a church in Belgrade, MN, and in 1901 the school moved to Grand Forks, ND and was renamed “Northwestern Lutheran Bible School.” The school offered courses in Biblical studies, missions, doctrine, personal evangelism, and Christian education. The school functioned as a Bible training school. This school closed in the summer of 1903. Several Lutheran Brethren students were in attendance at the time of the closing, and a number had previously graduated from the school.
In less than a year after the founding of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren in 1900, the need for a seminary for training Lutheran Brethren pastors and missionaries was felt. In response to that need, the 1903 Synodical Convention authorized the founding of the Lutheran Bible School in Wahpeton, ND that fall. The pastor’s course offered theological training for persons going into the ministry, and the Bible (parochial) course was designed as a Bible school for young people wishing special training in the Bible and for doing more effective work in the congregations as laypersons.
Upon popular demand from parents for a four-year high school, the freshman class was offered in 1916, and the first high school senior class graduated in 1920. The increased enrollment led to moving the school to Grand Forks, ND in 1918. In 1935, the Lutheran Bible School moved to Fergus Falls, MN, locating on the spacious and beautiful campus of the former Park Region Luther College.
In 1948, the Church of the Lutheran Brethren renamed the school system “Lutheran Brethren Schools,” giving the high school department the name “Hillcrest Lutheran Academy,” and retaining the name of “Lutheran Bible School and Seminary” for the Bible (college) and Seminary (theological) departments.
In 1992, the Board of Education changed the name of the Lutheran Brethren Junior Bible College to the Lutheran Center for Christian Learning (LCCL).
Lutheran Brethren Seminary is the training institution for those preparing for ministry in the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.