Passing passion on to the future
On a Saturday morning in late August, nearly 90 people gathered at Eastern University's City Ave location in Philadelphia to celebrate Palmer student-scholars and leaders. The standing-room-only space hummed with excitement, full of seminary students, local church leaders, and those touched by the Palmer community.
Generations of scholars were present – some just beginning their seminary studies while others, long-since graduated, having served in vibrant ministries for decades. The common thread that united them all: Passion. Everyone present shared a deep passion to participate in Christ’s restorative work in the world. It brought to mind the relationship between the prophets Elijah and Elisha. As a prophet, Elijah trained Elisha as his apprentice, then passed down the prophetic office. On this late summer day, the crowd celebrated the importance of handing down passion from generation to generation, specifically through the gift of financial scholarships and the opportunities that arise through them.
Rev. Dr. Wayne Croft, ’98, and his wife Dr. Lisa Croft shared how they were inspired to establish the Albert F. Campbell Endowed Scholarship because of the example and mentorship of Rev. Dr. Campbell, former adjunct professor and Pastor Emeritus of Mount Carmel Baptist Church. “We had little, but we put our few pennies together,” Rev. Croft reflects. They were driven by a passion to preserve their mentor’s legacy and pay forward the same financial generosity that Rev. Croft enjoyed himself.
Jen Lisowski, MDiv ’24, Student Assembly Moderator, represented the current generation of Palmer students and shared about the wisdom that has been handed down to them through their time at Palmer.
“Peace is not about the lack of something, but the presence of something – it is not the lack of brokenness but the presence of wholeness – wholeness because of Jesus Christ!” she expressed. The room applauded in agreement.
Passion leaves an imprint. Palmer inspires in its students a holy passion that transcends generations and extends well beyond the flipping of mortar board tassels. This passion permeates the lives of its graduates, animating Palmer’s mission, The Whole Gospel for the Whole World through Whole Person.
This passion is expressed through CARES, the Center for Alumni Care and Seminary Engagement, which offers chaplaincy care, connection, and continued formation for ministry leaders in need of rest and restoration. It does so through legacy offerings such as the Mitchell and Costas Lectureships that commemorate and honor the rich traditions of the African American Church and Latinx Theological Scholarship. It does so through nearly 100 years of innovation in Palmer’s history with the purpose of bringing Christ’s restorative work to the present time.
As many have said “The spirit of Elijah rests in Elisha,” so one could say the “spirit” of Palmer rests on those who boldly carry on the mission.
After the scholarships were presented, Rev. Dr. Kimberlee A. Johnson, Dean of Palmer Theological Seminary and College, invited the scholarship recipients to share a word of thanks. The first to rise stated simply, “My answer is still ‘Yes.’” The room responded with a passionate chorus of “Amen.”