Harmonized Horizons

The Spirit-Filled Fusion of Church and Academy.

The fusion of Church and Academy parallels the process of making an alloy by melding two metals together in extreme heat, with the goal of creating a stronger, more robust substance. When intertwined, the Church and Academy create an indestructible bind that brings the two worlds together driven by passion for two things: Practice and Scholarship.

At Palmer Theological Seminary and College, our mission to bring the Whole Gospel for the Whole World through Whole Persons begins in our classrooms, as we forge the Academy and the Church into a robust and versatile instrument of Christ’s inbreaking.

Integrated Missions: Church & Academy

Often, the Church and the Academy are seen as two elements that tarnish, dilute, or even corrupt the other. According to Rev. Dr. Adetokunbo Adelekan, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, to treat them as such is a grave mistake. “The Church and the Academy are two sides of the same ecclesiastical coin.”

Rev. Dr. Adelekan also serves as the Pastor of Rise Community Church in Dayton, OH. He is not alone; many of Palmer’s faculty serve in both the classroom and the local church. This described fusion of Church and Academy, theory and praxis, is a natural outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s igniting within the faculty themselves, creating a formative space for both rigorous academics and compassionate pastoral care.

Living Theory: The Faculty's Dual Roles

Rev. Dr. Allan Copenhaver joined Palmer in 2014 as a recruiter for the seminary’s West Virginia program. Now the Program Director and teaching in the MDiv and DMin programs, he serves as Pastor of The Baptist Temple in Fairmount, WV. He sees no need for tension between the academic and pastoral.

“Teaching is about transformation. Pastoral ministry, at its core, is about transformation. They have the same goal.” Likewise, Rev. Dr. Watson, who taught high school French prior to seminary, says she could never get away from teaching, and has always had the heart of a pastor. She currently serves as an Associate Pastor at Narberth Presbyterian Church, Narberth, PA. “I am committed to keeping these two things together...A threefold cord is not easily broken.” One might say, an alloy of metals is not easily shattered.

Palmer’s commitment to forging both sides of the ecclesiastical coin begins with our faculty who embrace theory and praxis. It ignites the fire behind our initiatives like the annual Palmer Consultation: Conversations on Church and Community. This spring, the topic was “Repairing the Breach, Restoring the Streets: The Academy and the Church Working Together.” The fire is spread through the seminary’s Lilly Endowment- funded programs – CARES and the new Flourishing Leaders Project – which seek to support, care for, and equip alumni and church leaders as they put their theological education into practice.

“The Church and the Academy must have synergistic accountability,” says Rev. Dr. Adelekan. “Both need to be concerned with the life of the Spirit and seek the face of God. A fractured relationship is not the model.”

In the furnace of Palmer, in the hearts of our very own faculty, we are continuing to forge an ecclesiastical coin not so easily fractured.