The History of Victoria University and Emmanuel College
Emmanuel College was founded in 1928. It was established as a result of the formation of The United Church of Canada in 1925 and formed with the intention of continuing the tradition of theological education established earlier by Canadian Methodists and Presbyterians.
Victoria University and Theological Education
Victoria University was founded at Cobourg by the Wesleyan Methodists of Canada under charter of King William IV in 1836. Its immediate purpose was to provide higher education, free from religious tests, and from its inception it was open to students of all denominations. It was emphatically a church college, however, and the education it imparted was consciously based on Christian principles. Early Methodist ministers normally secured their theological education by reading assigned books in the saddle. From the outset, however, the church encouraged its candidates to obtain a good education, and in 1871 a faculty of theology was added. In 1890 Victoria University became a federated member of the University of Toronto. After that time, therefore, Methodist theological education benefited from the resources and shared in the problems of a large provincial university.
Relationship of Emmanuel to Knox College
Knox College was founded in 1844 as a result of the disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843 over the issue of state control. At this time a number of Canadian ministers and congregations severed their connections with the Church of Scotland and formed a synod of the Free Church to which they gave the name of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Queen's College in Kingston, which had trained Presbyterian ministers since 1841, decided to remain in connection with the Church of Scotland. The Presbyterian Church in Canada responded by establishing Knox College to educate its clergy.
In 1926, when the property of the Presbyterian Church in Canada was apportioned in consequence of church union, the Ontario legislature awarded Knox College to the non-concurring Presbyterians. Those who entered The United Church of Canada, consisting of the entire board and faculty and eighty percent of the student body, thereupon formed an interim organization known as Union College.
Emmanuel Since Union
In 1928 Union College united with the Faculty of Theology of Victoria University. The new college took the name "Emmanuel" from the words under the figure of John Wesley in stained glass in the Victoria College Chapel: "The best of all is God is with us." Another factor in this selection was the evangelical and often dissenting tradition of Emmanuel College in Cambridge University. The Calendar for 1927-28 of Emmanuel's antecedent, Union Theological College, described the College as "an organ by which the Church trains its young men for the ministry and promotes theological learning." Much has changed at Emmanuel since that time. The young men have become men and women, some young and some not so young. The concept of ministry has been broadened to include many forms of Christian witness both through the church and directly to the world.
The United Church of Canada recognizes Emmanuel as one of its theological colleges and contributes towards its support. The College provides instruction in the beliefs and practices of the United Church, seeks to equip students for effective ministry through it, and serves as a centre of worship, theological inquiry and community within its tradition.
Through Victoria University, of which Emmanuel is a constituent college, students share the library, residential and social facilities of a larger institution. The Senate and The Board of Regents of Victoria are the principal governing bodies of the College. Matters relating to theological education are the particular concern of the Emmanuel College Council, in which alumni/ae, administrative officers, faculty and students participate.
The University of Toronto, of which Victoria is a federated university, contributes the intellectual stimulus of a wider community of study and makes available the resources of many faculties and departments. A new relationship with the University was established in 1978 when it agreed through the Toronto School of Theology to award conjoint degrees with the T.S.T. member colleges.
Emmanuel College Within the Toronto School of Theology
The United Church no longer educates for ministry in isolation but cooperatively since 1969 in the Toronto School of Theology. TST is a federation of seven theological colleges in Toronto and two affiliated colleges in Hamilton and Waterloo. It is itself fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, of which Emmanuel College is a charter member.
TST offers a full range of professional and academic degrees, each designed for a specific purpose within the framework of theological education. The member colleges in Toronto award their MDiv, MRE, MRel, MPS, MTS, ThM, DMin and ThD degrees conjointly with the University of Toronto under a Memorandum of Agreement between the colleges and the University in effect since 1978. The MA and PhD degrees are awarded by the University of St. Michael's College through its Faculty of Theology.
TST represents an unparalleled undertaking in ecumenical theological education. Bringing together a wide variety of Christian traditions, this federation offers an exceptional opportunity to study and understand the complexity of the Christian religious experience in an environment that combines academic excellence with preparation for effective ministry. Within this rich environment the purposes of Emmanuel remain what they have always been: education for ministry and the promotion of theological learning.
Emmanuel College and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada
As a charter and fully accredited member of the Association of Theological Schools we are committed to maintaining the highest standards of education for ministry and theological research. Our standing with the ATS is strengthened by the fact that TST as a whole has been similarly accredited; thus, the academic standing of Emmanuel graduates is recognized by ATS schools throughout North America.
Previous Mission Statement (1994)
The mission of Emmanuel College is:
1. To offer preparation for ordered and other ministries in The United Church of Canada and other denominational traditions;
2. To provide a biblically founded, contextual and academically responsible theological education at both basic and advanced degree levels, and continuing education for alumni/ae and others;
3. To give theological leadership within The United Church of Canada, especially through research and publication; and
4. To participate with others in the wider university community in the human search for truth.
Mission and Statement of Purpose (1994)
In 2010, Emmanuel launched its new Canadian Certificate of Muslim Studies program, which became the Muslim focus in the Master of Pastoral Studies program. In 2015, Emmanuel introduced the Diploma in Buddhist Mindfulness and Mental Health, which became the Buddhist focus in the Master of Pastoral Studies program. Both initiatives provide a new and important multifaith dimension to theological education in Toronto.
Our current Mission Statement is available on our Vision, Mission, Values & Strategic Plan page.