Palmer Theological Seminary
|Affiliation||American Baptist Churches USA|
|Provost||R. Keith Iddings|
|Dean||F. David Bronkema|
|Location||King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, United States
Palmer Theological Seminary is a multidenominational seminary affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA. United Methodists, Presbyterians, Mennonites, African Methodist Episcopalians, and other Protestant church denominations are represented both on the Palmer faculty and in its student body. It was founded in 1925 as Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Twelve members of the Northern Baptist Convention founded Palmer Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 19, 1925, intending to preserve their historic evangelical tradition as well as educate future ministers. Originally located on Rittenhouse Square, it moved in 1940 to Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, just across the street from the city boundary.
The seminary originally established a collegiate division to prepare some students for the academic rigor of seminary-level courses. This evolved in 1952 into Eastern Baptist College, since 2002 Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania near Valley Forge and further west on the Philadelphia Main Line from Philadelphia. In 2004, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary re-merged with Eastern University, now as a subsidiary. The following year, the seminary changed its name to Palmer Theological Seminary in honor of its longest serving president (1936–48), Gordon Palmer. In 2010, the University also established the Smith School of Christian Ministries to oversee certain programs. In 2012, the seminary sold this location and moved temporarily to the American Baptist Churches offices located nearby at 588 N. Gulph Road, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
Over the years, the seminary has combined evangelical theology with the affirmation of women in ministry and commitment to social justice and ethnic diversity. From the beginning, the Seminary welcomed female students. The Seminary continues to affirm its founding motto, "The Whole Gospel for the Whole World."
Masters Programs -- The Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree is the standard post-graduate degree required by many Christian church denominations prior to pastoral ordination. The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree prepares students for further academic training (primarily the Ph.D.) and for non-pastoral vocations in areas such as public policy advocacy, Christian publishing, and social work. At Palmer, students may choose to pursue an MTS in General Studies or in one of the following areas of concentration: Biblical Studies, Contemporary Theology, Christian Faith and Public Policy, Christian Mission, Christian Heritage (History), and Christian Counseling.
Doctor of Ministry -- In 2009 the Seminary launched a Doctor of Ministry degree program focusing on leadership and church renewal.
Eastern School of Christian Ministry -- Palmer offers several diploma and certificate programs designed primarily to provide quality theological education for those who do not have an undergraduate college degree.
Named Scholarship Program
In 2007, the Seminary began offering three scholarships covering half the cost of tuition at Palmer. As many as 10 openings are available each year for each of the three. The Brauch Scholarship is named for former Seminary president Manfred Brauch and his spouse, Marjean. The Sider Scholarship is named for professor Ron Sider, and the Wallis Scholarship honors Jim Wallis, the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Sojourners community.
Original Campus and community
The former main building on the Palmer campus, located at 6 E Lancaster Ave in Wynnewood, PA was once a resort hotel. The first floor of the building was renovated to accommodate staff offices and classrooms. The three upper floors serve as apartments or dorms for students and for some members of the Seminary's faculty and staff. Palmer's Laws Memorial Chapel building was constructed in the early 1950s with money donated by the late Marguerite Treat Doane. In addition to a sanctuary, the chapel features classrooms and faculty offices.
While the majority of students commuted to and from the Palmer campus in Wynnewood, some students resided on the campus.
In 2008, the countries represented by students living on campus included Canada, South Korea, India, South Africa, Australia, and China.
In 2012 this campus was sold and all offices were moved to the American Baptist Churches USA headquarters in nearby King of Prussia. Palmer intends to move onto land acquired from Valley Forge Military Academy by neighboring Eastern University, its parent institution, once new building projects are completed.
Musical discoveries at the seminary
In July 2005 an 80-page Beethoven manuscript of a piano four hands version of the Grosse Fugue was discovered in the library archives by one of the librarians. The manuscript was authenticated by Dr. Jeffrey Kallberg at the University of Pennsylvania and by Dr. Stephen Roe, head of Sotheby's Manuscript Department. Lost from view for well over 100 years, it is thought by some to be one of the most important musicological finds in recent years. The event strangely paralleled the earlier find on July 31, 1990 of a Mozart manuscript, which had been donated to the seminary in 1951 by Marguerite Treat Doane (daughter of noted hymnist William Howard Doane). It was rediscovered along with some lesser manuscripts of the same period. The Beethoven manuscript was auctioned by Sotheby's in London on December 1, 2005 for US$1.72 million to an anonymous bidder later revealed to be Bruce Kovner.
Notable faculty and alumni
- Ron Sider, professor and founder of Evangelicals for Social Action
- Craig Keener, professor and author of the bestselling IVP Bible Background Commentary (New Testament)
- Samuel Escobar, retired professor and world-renowned missiologist
- Barry Black, alumnus and United States Senate Chaplain
- Tony Campolo, alumnus, speaker, bestselling author, and social activist
- Michael A. O'Donnell, Ph.D., alumnus, award-winning speaker, and prolific author
- Wayne "Coach" Gordon, President of the Christian Community Development Association and Sr. Pastor at Lawndale Community Church.
- Rev.Dr. L. David Schlosser, longtime Baptist pastor, enshrined member of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains - deceased 1990
- Jay Smith, Christian apologist
- William David Thompson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Philadelphia and former Director of Homiletics at Eastern Baptist Seminary.
- "Beethoven manuscript, lost 115 years, is found", International Herald Tribune, October 13, 2005
- "Palmer Seminary discovers important Beethoven music manuscript", article at Eastern University web site
- Eurasian College: "Visiting Lecturers- Jay Smith" retrieved March 15, 2015
- Christianity Today: "Unapologetic Apologist - Jay Smith confronts Muslim fundamentalists with fundamentalist fervor" by Deann Alford June 13, 2008