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Columbia Seminary Board Considering COGA Proposal for Montreat Historical Collection


Decatur, GA.—Columbia Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees voted October 5, during its fall meeting, to explore the possibility of receiving a significant portion of the collection currently housed at the Presbyterian Historical Society’s Montreat branch. The Board’s action responds to a request from the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA), which proposed, in September, that national church records be moved from Montreat to the society’s Philadelphia location and that Columbia house the remaining collection on its Decatur campus. In addition, the COGA proposal requests that Columbia establish a program for the study of Presbyterian and Reformed History and Theology with educational programming at the seminary and at the Montreat Conference Center. The Montreat facility, slated to close December 31, 2005, houses an extraordinary collection of archival, library, and museum materials of Presbyterian history and the worldwide Reformed tradition. The collection includes a huge manuscript division, a library of bound books that number approximately 70,000 volumes, and a museum that contains material artifacts of 500 years of Reformed history. Laura Mendenhall, Columbia’s president, said, “Our Board wants to know how the seminary would use the collection to further our mission of preparing leaders for the church. Our faculty is considering this question and within the next six weeks hopes to provide suggestions so the Board can make an informed decision.” Columbia’s Board must also assess the proposed program’s financial effect on the seminary. Preliminary studies suggest that up to $1.7 million would be needed over the next five years to receive and catalog the collection and to make capital improvements to the John Bulow Campbell Library to accommodate the collection. Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, Georgia, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA). 

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