Reverend David Albert Farmer, Ph.D., Pastor
Photographs on this page by Amadu Mansaray
David Albert Farmer has served as Pastor of Silverside Church June 2000. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, he began preaching in his home church when he was 14 years old. Something clicked, and 16 years later, his doctoral degree was conferred by Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and was centered in the study of homiletics, a theological discipline concerned with the history, theory, and practice of preaching. He has edited two preaching journals and written five books (books six and seven are underway) and about a hundred articles, most of them related to some dimension of preaching. His most recent book, Preaching and Politics, was released as an e-book by Sentia Publishing in the late summer of 2016. He is negotiating to stop sales so that some ideas may be pursued in light of the startling presidential election results of fall 2016 before a re-release of the book can be arranged.
Dr. Farmer has taught preaching at Southern Seminary, the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Rueschlikon, Switzerland (which was relocated to Prague a few years after he served on that faculty); and for the last decade at Palmer Theological Seminary, the Seminary of Eastern University, in St. David's, Pennsylvania, where in January 2017 he will teach a seminar on a subject of great interest to him, "Preachers and Preaching in Cinema," and in the summer of 2017 a travel course (Atlanta, Selma, Memphis, Americus, and Nashville) titled "The Preaching of the Civil Rights Movement." In the spring semester of 2017, he will serve as Visiting Professor of Homiletics at Philadelphia's Won Institute of Graduate Studies where will have the unique opportunity of teaching Buddhist pastoral studies students the basics of effective preaching. Preaching remains Dr. Farmer's professional passion.
His compassion for people who are struggling and hurting makes him an attentive pastor. He has mastered modern technology enough to be able to be in touch with members and friends of Silverside Church by every means except carrier pigeon: telephone, email, texting, Twitter, and--somewhat reluctantly--Facebook. Admittedly, he initially pressed himself to learn the texting and social media tools to be able to stay in touch with his two young adult sons who live in other states. The privilege of parenthood is his greatest joy in life.
Like a significant number of Silversiders, Farmer is a theological liberal. This becomes quickly clear to anyone who listens to even a few of his sermons. His liberal bent has made it simple for him to accept and affirm those who feel that they have fallen too far away from their ethical foundations to be accepted and acceptable, especially in a spirituality community. Perhaps, too, it has been his liberal inclinations that caused him to embrace joyfully opportunities to become engaged in social justice challenges such as absolute equality for LGBTQ persons, demonstrating these values by being one of the first clergypersons to perform lesbian and gay unions and finally weddings beginning very soon after each became legal in Delaware. Activists in the congregation inspire him weekly with their untiring advocacy for peace, gun control, racial equality, support of refugees and battered Palestinians, among others.
At Silverside, Dr. Farmer is always engaged in developing new, creative sermon series themes. He believes that, while the unpleasant realities of life must be addressed for those who desire to be healthy spiritually, humor is a powerful healer.
As far as other front burner projects at Silverside, he is excited to be working with the church's Green Group to refresh the congregation's active involvement in "creation care," borrowing a name used by a similar group at a church in Richmond, Virginia. Furthermore, he is teaching weekly Bible studies for those who are not interested in traditional approaches to biblical study, but who are, nonetheless, interested in learning more about the teachings of the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
In 2009, Delaware Today named Dr. Farmer one of 15 professionals of influence in our state. In the spring of 2015, Judson Press Publisher, Laura Alden, visited his classroom at Palmer Seminary to present him with a certificate of recognition commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of his first book, still in print, And Blessed Is She: Sermons by Women. He continues to deal with the disappointment of not having been asked to portray Dame Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess's personal chaplain on "Downton Abbey"; since the televised series has ended, he can only hope that the rumored feature film picking up where the series left off will offer him the opportunity to fulfill his ambition.