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Bryn Athyn College of the New Church
Bryn Athyn College seal
Former names
Academy of the New Church College (1877–1997)
MottoBecome a Better You.
TypePrivate college
Established1877; 147 years ago (1877)
Religious affiliation
General Church of the New Jerusalem
PresidentBrian Blair
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusSuburban, 130 acres (53 ha)
Colors   Red and white
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division III: UEC
(ice hockey, DII, M)

Bryn Athyn College is a private Christian college in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. It is affiliated with the General Church of the New Jerusalem.


Bryn Athyn College started educating undergraduates after its incorporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1877. Then known as the Academy of the New Church, in 1890, the academy established a separate organization, the General Church of the New Jerusalem, a religious body based on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. After receiving an endowment from John Pitcairn and others, the Academy of the New Church expanded from a seminary into a high school and a two-year college. In 1914, it became a four-year college, and by 1922, the college was also conferring Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. In 1997, the Academy of the New Church College adopted a new name: Bryn Athyn College of the New Church.[1]

In August 2008, the college opened several new student residence cottages. A new science center and a new admissions and student life building were completed in September 2009.

The current president is the Rev. Eric Carswell.[2]


The college's original campus and surrounding community of Bryn Athyn were designed in 1893 by Charles Eliot of the firm Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot. The campus is located in the borough of Bryn Athyn, in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Much of the college's 130-acre (53 ha) campus is undeveloped open land, and the nearby Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust supplements the natural surroundings with eight miles (13 km) of trails following a creek through woods and fields.


Facilities include a performing arts center, a fine arts center, an ice-rink, pavillion, café and social center, as well as historic buildings.

Buildings in the Historic District

The Bryn Athyn Historic District includes:

Glencairn Museum

Glencairn Museum's ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman, medieval Christian, Islamic, Asian, and Native American collections help to inform visitors on the history of religion. The museum was built between 1928 and 1939 as a home for Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn. In 1979, the building was donated to the Academy of the New Church to serve as the school's museum of medieval and religious art.[3]

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Bryn Athyn Cathedral is the center of the New Church community and serves as a religious center for Bryn Athyn College students. Construction on the Gothic revivalist architecture began in 1913, and carried on until 1928, with work on the stained glass windows and interior decoration continuing into the early 1940s and beyond.[4]

In Bryn Athyn Cathedral there are no right angles or straight lines. The walls of the building are skewed against each other, bowing out in the middle only to return at the opposite wall.[5]

Cairnwood Estate

Cairnwood was designed by the architectural firm Carrère and Hastings and was completed in 1895. It served as the home of John Pitcairn, founder of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, and his wife Gertrude until 1916, after which it stood vacant for several years. In 1994, the Academy of the New Church renovated the building and it now functions as a cultural and hospitality center serving the college, community, and surrounding area.[6]


Bryn Athyn College is affiliated with the New Church, a branch of Christianity based on the Bible and the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The college offers religious courses, a religion major, and worship services.

Education at Bryn Athyn emphasizes the practical application of truth to life and encourages students to connect their spiritual beliefs to both their studies and their daily lives. Student conduct policies are guided by moral principles, with a particular emphasis on acting honestly, respectfully, and charitably and living a life of useful service.[7]

The college’s Mission Statement notes that, "Bryn Athyn College of the New Church serves as an intellectual center for all who desire to pursue a higher education in the liberal arts and sciences, enriched and structured by the Old and New Testaments and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The purpose of this education is to enhance students' civil, moral, and spiritual lives, as well as to contribute to human spiritual welfare.".[8][9]


The college's educational philosophy is grounded in the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg and the benefits of a liberal arts program. The curriculum emphasizes experiential learning.[10]

In the academic year 2020–21, the college had 272 students who were studying across 12 undergraduate programs. The college also enrolled 190 students studying two online courses.[11]

The college operates on a trimester system.


Bryn Athyn College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Lions are a member of the United East Conference (UEC) as of the 2023–24 academic year. They were previously UEC members from 2014 to 2018. Prior to the 2014 season, the college competed as a member of the USCAA. The college specializes in basketball and lacrosse.[12]

In 2020–21, almost 22% of students participated in an athletic team.[13]


Bryn Athyn College offers both courses and extracurricular arts opportunities in studio arts, theater, and music. Arts courses include drawing and painting, ceramics, metals, photography and art history.

Student life

Bryn Athyn student life is largely student-run. Student Government and the Social Committee plan regular activities both on and off campus.

See also


  1. ^ "History of the College". Bryn Athyn College. Archived from the original on January 28, 2012. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  2. ^ Bryn Athyn College official website, Retrieved 2023-04-21
  3. ^ "History of the Building". Glencairn Museum. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  4. ^ Bryn Athyn Church official website
  5. ^ "Cultural History". Bryn Athyn Cathedral. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  6. ^ "History of the Building". Cairnwood Estate. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  7. ^ "Values and Spirituality". Bryn Athyn College. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  8. ^ Bryn Athyn College official website
  9. ^ Bryn Athyn College official website
  10. ^ "Academics". Bryn Athyn College. Archived from the original on 2010-01-07. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  11. ^ Best Colleges website, Retrieved 2023-04-21
  12. ^ Bryn Athyn College official sport report for 2021
  13. ^ Best Colleges website, Retrieved 2023-04-21

40°08′05.45″N 75°03′35.80″W / 40.1348472°N 75.0599444°W / 40.1348472; -75.0599444