Understand our mission and values.

Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is a graduate school that prepares biblically and culturally informed ministry leaders for service through Christ's church. The seminary exists to achieve the following six purposes:

  1. To advance biblical, theological and ministry knowledge and skill.
  2. To nurture theological, spiritual and leadership formation.
  3. To encourage the development of critical thinking and worldview formation governed by biblical teaching.
  4. To nurture a global ministry perspective.
  5. To enhance the cultural relevance of ministry practice within the bounds of a distinctively Christian theological framework.
  6. To encourage lifelong and collaborative learning.


Grand Rapids Theological Seminary of Cornerstone University was founded as a degree-granting institution in 1948 when the State of Michigan authorized it to grant the Bachelor of Divinity degree (now called the Master of Divinity). The first graduating class in 1949 had two graduates. The institution originally opened in January 1941 as an evening Bible institute at Wealthy Street Baptist Church.

In 1944, a day school started that became the seminary four years later, at which time the school was renamed Grand Rapids Bible Institute and Theological Seminary. The Bible institute became a state-approved, degree-granting Bible college in 1963, moved to its present location in 1964 and transitioned into a Christian liberal arts college in 1972. In 1999, the entire institution, now named Cornerstone University, acquired state-approved university status.

Today, Cornerstone and GRTS share a 130-acre campus less than five miles from downtown Grand Rapids and operate under a single board of trustees and university president. The seminary is located in the Leon J. Wood Seminary Building, which opened in 1977, and it has its own administrative staff and faculty.

Cornerstone Confession

The Cornerstone Confession is our doctrinal statement as an academic institution. Students, staff, and faculty uphold the commitment to Scripture as the foundation of this confession.

Core Values

Grand Rapids Theological Seminary enacts its mission on the basis of the following core values:

  • Biblical Worldview: We engage theological education from a high view of biblical authority, with appreciation for the flow of the biblical story and a commitment to exegete the whole Bible in its original languages.
  • Spiritual Transformation: We understand and pursue ongoing spiritual transformation as a communal redemptive process of growth in faith, which is fostered by knowledge of the Word of God and expressed in character development, ethical transformation and greater love for God and people.
  • Critical Thinking: We believe critical thinking requires a strong commitment to scholarship, engagement with diverse viewpoints and appreciation for the tension of ideas associated with the developmental process.
  • Christ's Church: We exist to serve Christ and His worldwide church as partners in the development of ministry leaders through a variety of formal and non-formal means.
  • Disciplinary Integration: We nurture skillful integration of the theological disciplines to foster holistic growth in theory and practice while affirming the value of specialization in a theological discipline.
  • Lifelong Collaborative Learning: We foster a disciplined approach to life-long learning and view it as a shared journey with others.
  • Cross-Cultural Understanding: We affirm cross-cultural interdependence with the diverse cultures and perspectives of the world and recognize the importance of cultural exegesis and sensitivity for effective ministry.
  • Diverse Community: We value an academic community which includes men and women of diverse ethnic, socio-economic and Christian theological traditions.