Montgomery County Theological Schools Consolidate as Enrollment Falls

St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is leaving its longtime Wynnewood home and relocating its programs to Gwynedd Mercy University campus in Lower Gwynedd Township.

Several Montgomery County theological schools are bending under the pressure of the nationwide trend of falling enrollment which is forcing them to consolidate and sell off properties, writes Kristin E. Holmes for

Intake at theological schools nationwide is following diminishing church attendance, falling from 73,100 in 2005 to 67,000 a decade later. Fewer members mean less financial support which is creating budgetary pressures that have resulted in rising tuition fees.

This has forced Palmer Theological Seminary to start a four-year transition that began with selling the schools Wynnewood campus in 2012, and culminated with its move onto the campus of Eastern University in St. Davids.

Another Montgomery County theological school, the 45-year-old interdenominational Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, agreed in January to sell its 14-acre campus. The institution is now looking for a new building in or close to Philadelphia.

One of the reasons for the dropping attendance is that young people are finding meaning and faith in charitable work, volunteering, and community activism. These have started to take over the mantle of spiritual fulfillment from churches and synagogues.

“This generation doesn’t just do things because their parents did,” said Reverend David Lose, president of the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia.

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