An urgent call for your help

There are moments that change the course of history. Driven by the actions of determined individuals, these inflection points move and inspire us to dream, and forever change the landscape of humanity. One hundred and thirty-eight years ago, a Methodist layperson founded a theological school that has now equipped thousands of pastors, non-profit leaders, and professors to help change the world.  

Nearly a century and a half later, Claremont School of Theology is at a place of urgency. Without your help, the mission of the only United Methodist seminary west of the Rocky Mountains may come to an end, and the only progressive seminary in southern California may close its doors.  

We are asking you to join with us in giving to a $3 million Special Appeal.  

We need your gifts immediately in amounts that make a difference and allow us to land firmly in Los Angeles at Westwood United Methodist Church, and enable us to continue teaching and equipping spiritual leaders, scholars, and teachers – as we have done since 1885.

Why are we asking for your help right now?

The school was born in the San Fernando Valley and then moved to the campus of the University of Southern California, and in 1957, when it finally arrived in Claremont, it was $40,000 in debt. All the way back in 1957, CST leadership at the time signed an agreement with the Claremont Colleges (TCC, Inc.) that included that, if we ever relocated, we would sell the land to TCC for pennies on the dollar. During the past 10 years, we challenged that antiquated agreement in court. Even though we initially met with success, in the final December 2023 arbitration ruling, we lost our campus.  

Now CST is legally directed to sell our 16+-acre prime location campus to TCC, Inc., for $7.7M.  The current professionally appraised market value is more than $80M. Our students, our trustees, our staff, our faculty, and many of you all agree this is an injustice, especially against a school that makes such a difference in the world. However, it is where we are.  

We need at least $3M over the next 18 months to keep the mission of the school alive and moving forward. 

But that’s not the whole story…

Throughout our long history, we have distinguished ourselves not only as innovative, but also inclusive, in the ecology of theological education. Our student population is one of the most diverse, with 65 percent identifying as BIPOC. For decades, we have been an open and affirming institution for LGBTQIA students, faculty and staff, even in the midst of a denomination fighting over the inclusion of LGBTQIA people in the church. Over ten years ago, we anticipated the coming changes in theological education and made two significant shifts. First, we made a turn toward interreligious theological education. Today, students in all programs are engaged in learning about other religious traditions. Second, we were one of the first theological schools to offer degree programs through online classes mixed with in-person teaching. After nearly a decade of online education increasing in popularity, the COVID pandemic greatly accelerated the trend and firmly established the role of virtual class offerings at schools across the United States. This shift also served to reduce our reliance on our 16+-acre campus, which includes more than 100 units of student apartments. As upkeep and retrofitting needs continued to mount, maintaining our dear aging campus became an increasing burden for our future success.

We then tried selling the campus and relocating to the campus of Willamette University (a Methodist-affiliated undergraduate school), but the effort was derailed by the litigation with TCC. In the midst of this litigation, COVID hit in 2020. Then in 2023 the long legal battle ended with a judgment of TCC paying CST only $7.7 million for our entire 16+ acre campus. Without your major gifts, we may not make it to 2025. 

Will you help us?

Your contribution can make a significant difference in the lives of future CST graduates, ensuring they have the resources and opportunities they deserve to thrive academically and personally. Join us in shaping a brighter tomorrow by investing in CST today. Your gift is urgently needed!

Over the course of the next 18 months, CST will call on our community to achieve our $3 million Special Appeal goal.

Please include CST in your prayers, and lift us up in your places of worship.  

This is a once-in-a-generation moment in CST’s journey. We are asking you to give a gift today by clicking the button below.

With our sincere thanks,  

The leadership of Claremont School of Theology

Our $3M goal tracker


Learn more about the rich history of the oldest theological school in the Pacific Southwest:

Take a sneak peek below at our new campus as construction concludes!

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Our Alums

Cedrick D. Bridgeforth ‘00

“There’s nothing like CST. The faculty was crucial in my development as a pastor and leader. And its principles of justice and compassion taught me how to work with people across theological spectrums.”

Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth is the first openly gay African American man to be elected bishop in the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Kristin Ritzau ‘18

“A big theme of my CST dissertation was life, death, and rebirth. That’s gardening, and that’s farming. Every seed is a prayer. It’s just a miracle.”

Dr. Ritzau is the founder and Executive Director of Food ED that helps help young students understand how the ecosystem works.

Jihad Saafir ‘21

“Being in an interfaith setting allows you to broaden some of your views… you learn and you gather information from each other being in a diverse classroom.”

Imam Dr. Jihad Saafir serves as the Director of Islah LA and as the Director and Arabic Instructor at Islah Academy.