Garrett-Evangelical News

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer Delivered the Commencement Address and was Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree

EVANSTON, Illinois, May 2011 –Bishop of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, delivered the address at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary’s 154th commencement, where he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. The service was held at First United Methodist Church in Evanston on May 13.


Bishop Palmer’s address titled, “There’s a Crown above Your Head,” spoke of Howard Thurman’s experience as a student at Morehouse College.  In his autobiography, With Head and Heart, Thurman said of his faculty and mentors, “It was as if they were placing a crown above our heads that for the rest of our lives we would be trying to grow tall enough to wear.”  Bishop Palmer suggested that the graduates, and indeed all of us, have three crowns to aspire to wear: a crown to continue in robust theological engagement; a crown to live more meaningfully and faithfully in the global village in which we find ourselves; and a crown of character and righteousness.  To hear Bishop Palmer’s entire address, visit us online at

Bishop Palmer was also awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree for his years of service to The United Methodist Church.  In presenting the honorary degree, President Amerson said, “Today we recognize Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer, imaginative and dynamic pastor, preacher, episcopal leader and man of hope-filled initiatives for the church.” Upon receiving this award, Bishop Palmer said, “On behalf of The United Methodist Church and all of the churches that Garrett-Evangelical touches, many of which are represented here today, I want to say thank you.  Thank you for the way you are changing the world and transforming lives.”

Elected to the episcopacy in 2000 by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church, Bishop Palmer was assigned to the Iowa area, where he served until assuming episcopal responsibilities in the Illinois area (Illinois Great Rivers Conference) in 2008.  He served as president of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 2004 to 2008 and as president of the Council of Bishops from April 2008 to May 2010.

Bishop Palmer and his wife of 34 years, Cynthia, are the parents of two grown children – Monica, a middle school special education teacher in Charlotte, NC and Aaron, who is employed at a financial planning software company in Charlotte, NC.

Garrett-Evangelical, founded in 1853, is a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 400 students from many denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.

#     #     #

UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.