The history of the Faculdades EST, especially the Bachelor’s program in Theology, is intimately connected to the German immigration in southern Brazil. As of 1824, an expressive number of Germans of Lutheran confessionality arrived in the southern part of the country, beginning the work of edifying congregations. Initially this work was done by lay people or by pastors coming from abroad. Soon, the need for theological training on Brazilian land was felt. In an article published in 1920, according to pastor Hermann Dohms, there already was noted a need for pastors who were familiarized with the situation of the country, who could confer unto the church the character of an institution rooted in the people. Toward this end a high school level humanistic training program was created in 1921 which became, as of 1931, the Pre-Theological Institute – with its own headquarters on the Morro do Espelho in São Leopoldo. A “propaedetic theological program” was begun in 1940 at this institute, which had to be interrupted in 1942, with the declaration of war against Germany by Brazil.
When the Second World War ended, the first official Theological program was founded. On March 26th of 1946 the first “School of Theology” of the IECLB was constituted. This was transferred, in 1948, from a modest house on the Morro do Espelho to the Synod House, the building which housed the Rio dos Sinos Synod, and more recently, became the Registrar’s Office of the Faculdades EST. In 1956, the “Student House” was inaugurated in the building which today is known as the “old building”. From belonging to the Rio Grandense Synod the Theological Seminary became, in 1958, an institution of the Synodal Federation (today the IECLB – Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil [the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil], with a national scope. In these first decades, the faculty of the Seminary was mostly constituted of professors coming from Germany. As of 1968, however, the process of becoming Brazilian was accelerated.
In 1984 the Theological Seminary became the Escola Superior de Teologia - EST (Higher School of Theology). EST emerged housing five institutes: the Theological Seminary, the Postgraduate and Research Institute (currently the Postgraduate Theological Program), the Institute for Christian Education, the Institute for Special Theological Capacity Building and the Pastoral Institute. Later the Music Institute, the Institute for Diaconal Training, the Synod School for Professional Education (ESEP) and the Higher Institute of Music of São Leopoldo (ISMSL) were created.
The conjunction of activities developed by these different institutes throughout the years led to EST being an institution which works on different levels: undergraduate, postgraduate, extension and technical. The General Regimentation, approved in 2002, substituted the old institutes with pro-rectories. Only the Synod School of Professional Education (ESEP) and the Higher Institute of Music of São Leopoldo (ISMSL) remain as independent institutes.
In 2007, the general regimentation was reformulated, aiming at integrating the IEPG, the ESEP, the ISM and EST into a single institution of higher learning, now named Faculdades EST with its respective programs.