In 1841, Bishop Jackson Kemper, the Episcopal Church’s first Missionary Bishop, set out on horseback for what was then the northwest frontier, bearing the Gospel to the Onieda and Objibwe peoples. Three young deacons, persuaded by Kemper’s example, followed him on foot—one of whom was James Lloyd Breck, later remembered as “the Apostle to the Wilderness.” Inspired by the Oxford Movement and the catholic revival in Anglicanism, Breck hoped to establish a religious house from which missionaries, trained in the Christian faith and formed by its disciplines, would go forth to preach the Gospel both to indigenous nations and the eastern pioneers then settling among them.
In 1842, then, a seminary was born in a little blue house built in the wilds of the kettle moraine. The following year, a little red chapel—the Chapel of St. Sylvanus—was built beside it. The two buildings endure today on Nashotah House’s campus. The faith, the missionary zeal and the catholic tradition which built them endure here also. And for the 166 years since, a unique witness within the Church has been thriving in the wilds of southeast Wisconsin.
Chartered in 1847, Nashotah House is the oldest institution of higher learning in Wisconsin, and she remains true to her roots today. Breck’s monastic ideals were considered radical in the Episcopal Church of his day, but his strong vision of priestly formation through communal living, ordered prayer and shared work established Nashotah House’s unique identity and values in perpetuity.
For more than 160 years, the seminary’s purpose has been summed up in its distinctive name “Nashotah House” and its unofficial title, “the Mission.” The Daily Prayer for Nashotah House communicates the mission of a community “set apart to the glory of thy great Name and the benefit of thy Holy Church,” and expresses the hope that her students will “go forth animated with earnest zeal for thy glory…that they may speak with that resistless energy of love which shall melt the hearts of sinner to the love of thee.” Nashotah House’s strong Anglo-Catholic heritage, married to a high view of the scriptures and a missionary ethos, provides a clear context for a community of faith and learning.
This is Nashotah House: a wooded sanctuary in which the beauty of holiness is prized.; a community which keeps the monastic rule of life and the fullness of the faith once delivered; a theological school in the classical tradition, and a missionary outpost on the frontiers of western culture.
Explore the Nashotah House and the living tradition she preserves for the Anglican Communion.
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