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Diakon, Lutheran seminary at Philadelphia recipients of major bequest; funds will help to support services for children and families

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (March 11, 2015)

Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia today jointly announced the receipt of a more than $14.5 million bequest that will be split evenly between the two organizations.

The bequests of more than $7.2 million to each organization were made by the late Helen Nicholson Palmer of Wyomissing, who passed away in December 2012. Her husband, Frank R. Palmer, who died in 1992, was the former president and CEO of Carpenter Technology Corp., also of Wyomissing.

“We are deeply grateful for this bequest and for the forethought Mrs. Palmer exhibited in making such a generous contribution to our services,” says Mark T. Pile, Diakon president/CEO. “She had a lifelong commitment to The Lutheran Home at Topton, evident in her unwavering attendance at Topton board meetings.”

“Mrs. Palmer’s concern that our congregational leaders receive the best training possible is inspiring,” says the Rev. Dr. David J. Lose, president of the seminary. “Her gift will make an incredible difference to men and women preparing for ministry and to the congregations they will serve.”

Some of the funds received by Diakon will be used to support the delivery of a wide range of services for children and families. “This use will certainly be in keeping with the interests of Mrs. Palmer,” Pile says.

A portion of the gift to Diakon may also be dedicated as seed money for eventual refurbishment of the Old Main building on The Lutheran Home at Topton campus for use as a “permanency center” related to adoption and foster care, Pile adds. “Again, this use would correspond extremely well with Helen Palmer’s interests in both children and The Lutheran Home.”

“This bequest underscores the importance of planned giving for organizations such as Diakon and the seminary,” says MaryEllen Dickey, senior vice president for Diakon’s Office of Development. “The forethought and generosity of individuals such as Mrs. Palmer have been critical to Diakon’s ability over the last near-150 years to serve more and more people who have limited financial resources. In fact, Diakon’s charitable care amounts to more than $1 million a month.”

The gift to the seminary will be dedicated to completing several improvement projects that had been deferred because of finances and to providing support to the academic and scholarship programs of the school.

“Seminaries across the country have been struggling to cope with massive changes in the church and culture,” says Lose. “Mrs. Palmer’s gift will provide the seminary with the opportunity to reorganize and re-energize itself to prepare leaders for Christ’s church in a way that is both culturally relevant and financially sustainable.”

A graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts and member of Atonement Lutheran Church in Wyomissing, Mrs. Palmer was a volunteer with the United Way of Berks County and Reading Hospital, as well as an active member of the Reading Hospital Auxiliary Board. She also was a former president of the Junior League of Reading and the board of managers of the former Home for Widows and Single Women. She founded the Wellesley College Club of Reading in 1961.