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Blog Interview–Dr Delano Palmer–Jamaica Theological Seminary

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at the Jamaica Theological Seminary (JTS).

My name is Delano Vincent Palmer and I serve as lecturer in biblical studies and theology, as well as deputy president; I also held the post of academic dean (2009-2012).

2)    Tell us a little about the Jamaica Theological Seminary.

The JTS was founded in 1960, two years before Jamaica’s independence, by the late Dr Zenas Gerig [read more on-line here and here].  The college is accredited locally by the University Council of Jamaica, and the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association. At present we have little over five hundred students on three campuses (Kingston, Mandeville, JA; St Vincent; and St Lucia) pursuing the BA in Theology, Biblical Studies, General Studies, Guidance & Counselling, Social Work, Music & Media, and Social and Professional Transformation degrees; in addition, we also offer a Certificate in Leadership and Ministry as well as a Masters in Public Theology.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

JTS Board Members Ground Breaking

We offer both part-time and full-time programmes; in a word, all the above.

4)    How do JTS students fund their studies?

We encourage the majority of our local students to sign up with the SBL (Students’ Loan Bureau); a few scholarships are offered and quite a number of students pay their way.

5) Does JTS take students from overseas?

JTS has had an exchange programme with colleges in the USA since the mid-70s. To date we have had students from all over the Caribbean, including Haiti and Cuba, a few from Africa (Ghana, Nigeria), and one from Canada.

5) What type of ministry is JTS intended to prepare students for?

Originally, the college sought to train pastors primarily in keeping with the school’s Motta at the time: That I Might Know Him . . . That I Might Preach Him. The new Motta (That I Might Know Him . . . That I Might Make Him Known), reflects the present vision of the board to include more lay people in an understanding of ministry that envisages the Christian life as a sojourn that may likened to three New Testament roads: 1) the Damascus Road (salvation); 2) the Emmaus Road (sanctification); and 3) the Jericho Road (service).

7) When students leave JTS what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

JTS alumna serving in
Nassau as a teacher

Although the majority of our graduates are engaged in the pastorate (and cross-cultural  ministries), in recent times many serve as guidance counsellors, social workers, teachers, et cetera.

8) What is distinctive about what JTS offers compared with other colleges in and overseas?

JTS stands squarely in the evangelical tradition and strongly believes that the gospel must be placed at the cross-roads of every stratum of the human condition—especially as it is mirrored in the Caribbean reality. This concern is reflected  in all our programmes and expressed in  recent symposia, namely, the publication of A Kairos Moment for Caribbean Theology and our involvement in the translation of  the New Testament in the Jamaican language [see video here].

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

Zenas Gerig library

Our Zenas Gerig library holds over  forty-five thousand volumes, inclusive of a special West Indian collection.  JTS, located in the capital, is not far from the libraries of the Universities of the West Indies (UWI) and Technology (U-Tech), as well as that of the United Theological College (UTC).

10) Does JTS offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

The college supports its satellite campuses (St Vincent; St Lucia) by organising summer-sessions in which  lecturers from the main campus (Kingston) travel to these sites. A limited number of courses is offered online.

My thanks to Dr Palmer for his contribution to this series. The journals Binah and the Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by JTS, can be read online here.

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