Theological training began here in 1866 when seven of the first eight graduates of Hope College
petitioned the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America for such training. The request was granted and classes were begun, using the facilities and staff of Hope College. In 1867 the Rev. Cornelius E. Crispell, D.D., was elected by the General Synod as the first professor. In 1869 the Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte, founder of the Holland Colony, and the Rev. Phillip Phelps Jr., were also made professors. Financial difficulties, caused primarily by a national depression, forced the suspension of classes in 1877. The seminary was reorganized in 1885, and classes were resumed. It was then officially designated as the Western Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church in America. Its purpose has been, and continues to be, the preparation of men and women to become ministers, missionaries and scholars in the service of Jesus Christ.