About Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University
My association with Palmer Theological Seminary spans nearly four decades. I was a student here in the early 1970s, a professor in the 1980s, and now am extremely proud to serve as the Seminary’s 12th president since its founding in 1925.
Palmer is a very special place, not so much because of our academic programs or our physical facilities, but because of our unique mission in the field of theological education. Our identity is characterized by a view of the Bible that takes ALL its words and messages seriously. We consider it our mission to equip women and men not just to address the spiritual condition of those among whom they will minister, but also to speak with a prophetic voice to issues related to equality, social justice, and concern for the poor. All of these are major themes throughout Scripture.
Our commitments influence the programs and course offerings here, as well as the way these courses are taught. These commitments have also led us to welcome voices of many different ethnic and theological traditions as we affirm, as a community, the unity we find at the foot of the Cross. Our student body, for example, features atypically high percentages of women and African-American students, something of which we are proud. And even though we are a fairly small community, our faculty, staff, and students together represent some two dozen nations around the globe.
I recognize that Palmer Seminary is not for everyone. But I certainly encourage you to learn more about Palmer in order to determine if this might be the best place for you. Please contact us by phone or e-mail. Visit us; request our free DVD. I am confident that the more you get to know Palmer Seminary the more you will respect our mission to take the whole gospel to the whole world through whole persons.
Palmer Theological Seminary was founded on March 19, 1925 as Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The founders were motivated by the desire to provide another option for graduate-level theological training in the Baptist context. Along with other conservative seminaries of that time, the Seminary held to a high view of Scripture as the authoritative word of God. But the founders maintained that the agendas of conservative institutions were too narrow, particularly with regard to the prohibition of women in ministry and the absence of concern for social justice. Thus, in its early days the Seminary was widely described as being “conservative, yet progressive,” a designation that still applies today.
For the first 15 years of its existence, the Seminary was located in Philadelphia. In 1940,
it relocated to Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, on the edge of the city, where it has remained
From the beginning the Seminary was committed to providing remedial educational programs for people who felt called to Christian ministry but who lacked the educational credentials required to qualify for graduate-level training. This commitment planted the seeds for Eastern University, which was founded as Eastern Baptist College in 1952, changed its name to Eastern College in 1972, and became Eastern University in 2001.
The Seminary’s continuing commitment to providing quality theological education to all who desire it is reflected in such programs as ESCM (Eastern’s School of Christian Ministry) and the Priscilla Institute.
Through the years, both Palmer Seminary and Eastern University have remained true to the values of their founders. Based on a high view of Scripture, both schools integrate justice into their missions, an emphasis that is reflected in part in the institutions’ program offerings. The schools’ dual degree program, for example, allows a student to earn (concurrently) both a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis on economic development. This unique program prepares men and women to bring both spiritual healing and meaningful economic aid to the some of the world’s poorest areas.
When the two institutions re-united in 2004, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary became the Seminary of Eastern University. In 2005, the name of the Seminary was changed to Palmer Theological Seminary.