In 2007, the Ralph and Cheryl Schregardus Friendship House at Western Theological Seminary became the first seminary housing of its kind. Friendship House is a pod-style apartment complex where 18 students live alongside six young adults with cognitive disabilities, and the partnership is astounding.
Friendship House gives the six Friends an opportunity to live independently and work in the community, while the seminarians get the opportunity to learn what it means to live alongside someone with a disability. We at Western Theological Seminary would be diminished without the presence of our Friendship House Friends. They have enriched the lives of seminarians and given us a deeper appreciation of all people and a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
Today, the Friendship House is inspiring other seminaries to create similar communities. Duke Divinity School started their own Friendship House in 2013, Vanderbilt Divinity School started theirs in 2015, and representatives from Calvin Theological Seminary recently toured the facility with interest in starting one at their school.