It All Started with Philander Chase
Philander Chase, the Bishop of Ohio, was sometimes intransigent and impatient, yet he was ultimately moved by pastoral concern for the people of the frontier. In 1823, despite opposition from eastern bishops, he set out for England to raise money to start an Episcopal seminary west of the Alleghenies.
Before the voyage he flooded key people with letters, pamphlets, and brochures about the necessity of a school of ministry on the frontier. The gamble succeeded brilliantly. English church leaders gave generously to this non-English project. Among them was Nicholas Vansittart, the recently retired Chancellor of the Exchequer who had been ennobled as Lord Bexley by King George IV. A triumphant Bishop Chase sailed back to the States—and Bexley Hall was born.
The seminary's first classes met in temporary quarters in Chase's rectory office at St. John's Church in Worthington, Ohio. Eventually, the seminary moved to Gambier and the campus of Kenyon College, founded by Chase as an undergraduate “feeder college” to the seminary.
In 1968, Bexley moved to Rochester, New York, and, in 1998, began a return to its native Ohio. After more than 180 years, Bexley Hall remains daring, pushy, tough, innovative, and resilient in bringing the Gospel to the frontier.