The Seminary Community

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.

Student Formation

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.

Academic advising

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.
In addition to the Curtis Lee Laws Memorial Chapel building, there is a Prayer Room on the fourth floor of the main building. This room is open at all times, and community members are welcome to use it for prayer and quiet meditation.

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.


In addition to Chapel, 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; soccer games, barbecues, and other activities as community members express interest.

Student Assembly

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.

Student Services

In addition to the student services described elsewhere in this catalog, the Seminary provides a faculty adviser for all degree students, a bookstore on campus and a computer room.

Placement Services

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.

Counseling Services

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 Koinonia Center, located on the first floor of Palmer Hall, is an informal gathering place for fellowship, study and meals. It houses both a lounge area and the Koinonia Kafe, which serves breakfast and lunch foods throughout the week. The Koinonia Center also contains vending machines and microwave ovens for student use.

Community kitchens are located on the third and fourth floors for dormitory residents who wish to prepare their own meals.

Student Health

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.

Campus Facilities
Most people, realizing that the Seminary is close to a major urban center, are pleasantly surprised with the beauty of the 7.1/2-acre campus upon seeing it for the first time. The campus is bright with grass and flowers throughout the spring and summer. In late September it adopts the full range of autumn's colors.

Palmer Theological Seminary is located about six miles northwest of Center City Philadelphia, bordering the city limits. Train and bus lines leading to the downtown area, the airport or the suburbs are within easy walking distance.

Gordon Palmer Hall, a four-story brick building of traditional Georgian style architecture was originally a hotel. The hub of Seminary activity, it houses all administrative offices, a dining room, bookstore, coffee shop, student recreational center, laundry facilities and more.

The Curtis Lee Laws Memorial Chapel, also built in Georgian style to complement the main building on campus, serves primarily as a worship center and venue for Seminary special events. Dedicated in 1951, the Laws Chapel is the building most students, alums and friends associate with Palmer Theological Seminary. Its sanctuary, in which is located the three-manual Conaway Memorial Organ, seats up to 500.

William Howard Doane Hall occupies the ground floor of the chapel building. It, along with the chapel, was a gift from Mrs. Marguerite Doane in memory of her father, whose many hymns are widely sung and cherished by Christians worldwide. Doane Hall includes classrooms and faculty offices.

Daniel Arnold Woodruff Learning Center is a state-of-the-art lecture and distance learning facility located on the lower level of the chapel. Dedicated in December, 1997, it offers seating for 108 with Internet access at each workstation, audio and video conferencing capabilities and rearview projection from a PC, video, slide and document camera.

Austen K. deBlois Library and Hall, which is linked to Palmer Hall, houses the Seminary's 120,000-volume library, including a reading and periodicals room. deBlois Hall also contains the Gilbert Guffin Lecture Hall, five classrooms and several faculty offices.

The Gilbert L. Guffin Lecture Hall was dedicated in memory of Dr. Gilbert Lee Guffin, who was president of Palmer Theological Seminary from 1950 until 1961. This lecture hall is fully equipped with computer, projection and Internet technology.

The Glenn A. Koch Lecture Hall was dedicated in May 1999 in honor of Dr. Glenn Alan Koch, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Studies. A media-oriented facility, the Koch Lecture Hall is similar to the Guffin Lecture Hall in equipment and capabilities.

The Gallup Lobby was dedicated in December 1992 in gratitude to Stanton and Ellen G. Gallup for faithful service and generosity to Palmer Theological Seminary.

Campus Housing

Resident single students live in dormitories located in Palmer Hall. These accommodate about 44 students. Typically, two students occupy a room, although a few single rooms are available. The rooms are furnished, with students providing their own lamps, linens and personal decorative items or furnishings.

Thirty-one unfurnished apartments are available in Palmer Hall to married students and students with children. These are either one or two-bedroom apartments, varying in size. Each apartment has its own kitchen and private bath. The two-bedroom apartments are primarily for couples with small children. (None of the apartments is large enough to accommodate more than two children.)

Housing is also available for commuter students, not to exceed four days per week. Commuter dorms are double occupancy with a shared bathroom and are furnished in the same manner as residential dorms. Commuter guest rooms are hotel-style rooms equipped with TV, mini-fridge, private bathroom, and linens and other necessities.


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.