The Center’s Founding
The Desmond Tutu Center was founded in 2007, originally as a conference center located along the northwest side of General Theological Seminary’s Manhattan campus. The conference center was intended to serve church groups, educational institutions and other non-profit organizations.
In a speech at the Center’s opening in September 2007, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that the center “is hoping to nurture those who are going to be instruments of peace and reconciliation.” He went on to say that “we need people who have a still center; who are tools of serenity and have ripples of peace reaching out to a world that is desperately hungry.”
Time of Transition
The conference center was sold in 2012 as a part of General Theological Seminary’s “Plan to Choose Life” program to eliminate its debt and rebuild its endowment. With the sale of the conference center, the mission of the Tutu Center was put on hold for several years.
The Mission Reimagined
In 2015, General Theological Seminary appointed the Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, the new Herbert Thompson Professor of Church and Society, as the Director of The Desmond Tutu Center at General Theological Seminary. Battle holds a unique connection to The Desmond Tutu Center, having lived in residence with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa for two years (1993-1994) and having been ordained a priest in South Africa by Tutu in 1993. With new energy and focus, Battle has continued Tutu’s hope that the Center would “nurture those who are going to be instruments of peace and reconciliation.” Through offering travel courses to South Africa, courses taught at GTS and online, scholarship and research, prison ministry and public events, the Center remains committed to forming leaders through their interaction with the life, theology, work and legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
A Note on the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation:
The Desmond Tutu Center at General Theological Seminary works to maintain a close relationship with the primary Desmond Tutu Center in South Africa. We are united in our common mission of forming a new generation of leaders dedicated to serving the world through following Desmond Tutu’s example.