Palmer Theological Seminary

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Palmer Theological Seminary
Former name
Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Motto in English
"The whole gospel, for the whole world, through whole persons."
Established1925 (1925)
Parent institution
Eastern University
Affiliation American Baptist Churches USA
Provost Kenton Sparks
Dean F. David Bronkema
Academic staff
Location, ,

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. Its parent institution is Eastern University. Palmer Theological Seminary is located on the Eastern University campus at 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, PA.



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. [1] Originally located on Rittenhouse Square, it moved in 1940 to Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, just across the street from the city boundary. In 2012, the seminary moved from the Wynnewood campus to an interim location at the American Baptist Missions Center in nearby King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. In June 2016, the seminary moved to the main campus of Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.

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. [2] In 2010, the University also established the Smith School of Christian Ministries to oversee certain programs. [3] 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, between 2015 and 2016, the seminary moved to the main campus of Eastern University.

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." [4]

Academic programs

Masters Programs The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) 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 (D.Min.) 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.


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, Pennsylvania was once a resort hotel. The first floor of the building was renovated to accommodate staff offices and classrooms. The three upper floors served 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 featured classrooms and faculty offices.

In 2008, the countries represented by students living on campus included Canada, South Korea, India, South Africa, Australia, and China.

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. [5] [6] The manuscript was authenticated by Jeffrey Kallberg at the University of Pennsylvania and by 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 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

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