Seminaries: Joining the Theologians for Thrift & Tolerance

In pre-ecumenical days, neighboring seminaries of different faiths used to eye each other warily, like hostile fortresses. But the barriers of confessionalism are falling fast — and nowhere faster than in California's Bay Area.

There, seven divinity schools ranging from Roman Catholic to Unitarian have joined to create a unique Graduate Theological Union offering doctorates of theology and philosophy.

The G.T.U. started in a modest way: with two deans and one student, who flunked out. Now in the third year of operation, it has 24 doctoral candidates and a faculty of 54, drawn from the participating schools. Its students must meet...

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