Composition of the Community
Palmer Theological Seminary is an unapologetically diverse community of women and men from various denominations. Currently we are about 48% male and 52% female. Student ages range from 22 to over 65. Racially/ethnically, approximately 52% African American, 38% Caucasian, and 10% International, Hispanic, Asian, and Other. Denominationally, we are 46% Baptist, 17% Methodist, 8% Nondenominational, 7% Presbyterian, 6% Holiness/Pentecostal, and the balance are a mix of about 15 other church traditions.
Formation for ministry is a comprehensive process that takes place both in and out of the Seminary classroom. Palmer Theological Seminary is committed to equipping whole persons to incorporate the whole Gospel into all the various contexts and relationships in which they are involved. We are concerned not only with the intellectual and academic development of our students, but with their personal, social, and spiritual development as well.
The office of student formation & seminary chapel
The Director of Student Formation & Seminary Chaplain creates and coordinates co-curricular programs and activities that complement and enhance the academic components of ministry formation. These co-curricular vehicles help students cultivate alertness to the practical implications of their classroom learning; heighten students attentiveness to their own Christian faith journeys and spiritual development; and support students exploration of how they each distinctively fit into and affect an ethnically, culturally, politically, and theologically diverse world community. The Director/Chaplain, along with other faculty and practitioners in a variety of ministry fields, facilitates nourishing Christian worship, challenging workshops, lively discussions, and edifying fellowship.
Each student is assigned an Academic Advisor, a faculty member who will monitor the student's academic status and progress while in Seminary. Palmer Seminary takes a holistic, systems-oriented view of the Academic Advising process, interpreting students' academic functioning in the context of their personal, familial and vocational realities and concerns.
Self-awareness and self-assessment are key skills for the exercise of healthy ministry practices. Upon matriculation at Palmer Seminary, M.Div. and M.T.S. Counseling Concentration students participate in a few assessment inventories that provide data about their readiness for ministry. This data serves as a benchmark for tracking student growth and progress over the course of their Seminary studies. Then, when they have completed approximately two-thirds of their program, these students take advantage of another self-assessment opportunity in order to gauge their progress, and to chart plans for continued growth for the rest of their Seminary matriculation and beyond.
The Palmer Seminary community meets weekly for worship. Chapel services are a delightful and refreshing opportunity for us to celebrate the God of our salvation, savor our oneness in Christ, and seek the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit as we journey together. Preaching that heals and motivates, manifesting a variety of Christian worship traditions and styles, is the centerpiece of most Chapel services. We sing our Christian faith through a variety of musical expressions-- traditional, gospel, contemporary, international. Storytelling, liturgical dance and other creative forms give further expression to our reverence for the work and presence of God, and the life we have in Christ.
The Unity Initiative
The racial, ethnic, cultural, and international diversity that distinguishes the Palmer Seminary community is a blessed opportunity to exercise excellent stewardship. Diversity comes with challenges, and our stewardship challenge is to manage the difficulties while mining and enjoying the vast treasures hidden beneath layers of prejudice, ignorance, and fear. The purposes of the Unity Initiative are: to enable us to be more conscious of the perceptions and preconceptions we bring into different relational contexts; to make us more aware of and vulnerable to others; to foster friendships and collegial partnerships across markers of diversity; and to develop relational skills and habits of heart that will be transferable out into the Church and world beyond the Seminary community. We believe all of this is essential if we are to fulfill the reconciling work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Unity Initiative encompasses all the means by which we intentionally and regularly create opportunities to be in dialogue and fellowship with one another in ways that transgress boundaries of bias: prayer times and worship, film viewings with discussions, panel discussions on topics of interest; casual fellowship that sparks and deepens friendships; workshops and lectures.
The entire Palmer Seminary Community enjoys gathering for mutual edification and for fun on other occasions. These include a Day of Prayer observed each semester; all-campus Pot-Luck Luncheons in the Fall and in the Spring; a Carol Sing at Christmas time; barbecues, and other activities as community members express interest.
Representatives of the student body are elected each year to serve the community, and to allow for students to have an active voice in Seminary policy formation and governance. Student Assembly representatives attend faculty, Seminary Board of Governors, and Eastern University Board of Trustees meetings, in addition to some faculty committee meetings. The Student Assembly creates and hosts a variety of student activities, in addition to supporting Office of Student Formation & Chapel programs.
Special interest groups
Under the guidance of the Office of Student Formation, a wide range of small Special Interest Groups are available. These groups convene for a variety of reasons: prayer, mutual support, outreach, Bible study, spiritual direction, issues advocacy, denominational identity and information, etc.
In addition to the student services described elsewhere in this catalog, the Seminary provides a faculty adviser for all degree students, a bookstore on the St. Davids campus and a computer room.
Placement resources are coordinated through the Supervised Ministries Department at Palmer. It is the mission of Placement to be a conduit for:
- The external Christian community to address inquiries, to submit postings, information, and ministry opportunities.
- Denominational and other ministry-related organizations to contact PTS as they seek to develop relationships with seminarians through campus visits and/or the dissemination of information to the Palmer community.
- Students to access information submitted to the Seminary as they seek employment opportunities while at PTS and immediately following graduation.
Placement was officially reorganized in the fall of 2002 with these new services for the PTS community. For more information, contact the Coordinator of Supervised Ministries.
Recognizing that effective Christian ministry is done best by spiritually and psychologically whole, mature persons, and recognizing also that seminary students frequently can benefit from assistance in these areas, the Seminary has arranged with competent professionals to provide counseling to degree students at a significantly reduced rate. The Coordinator of Counseling Services acts as a liaison between students and counselors.
Palmer Theological Seminary is proactive about the safety of all campus members and guests. The Seminary has developed a series of policies and procedures designed to ensure that precautionary measures are taken to protect students and guests on campus. A pamphlet, which provides the information needed to understand and participate in the effort to keep the Seminary campus safe, is available in the Registrar's Office.
The cafe located on the main level of ABC building, is an informal gathering place for fellowship, study and meals. It provides a varied breakfast and lunch menu throughout the week. The cafe also provides a microwave oven for student use.
Community refrigerators and microwaves are located in both the A and E wing for students who wish to bring their own meals.
Health insurance coverage is required of all students. The Seminary group plan for the academic year (August 15 to August 14), is mandatory for each student unless proof is shown of other satisfactory coverage. Full details are available at the Business Office.
The Palmer Theological Seminary Alumni/ae Association is an organization of approximately 3,000 men and women who have graduated from one of the degree programs or who have taken at least 12 units of study. It is a viable body of God's servants who for decades have kept the welfare of the Seminary as a priority in their lives.
The Alumni/ae Association raises support for lectureships, scholarships and the annual fund. It recruits students, sponsors reunion events and works toward the general advancement of the school and its mission.