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The Rev. Laura Palmer


As my fellow parishioners, many of you are aware that I am an author and was a former network television news producer before attending Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where I lived, worked, and raised my daughter. I graduated from Union in 2009 with a Master of Divinity degree in Psychiatry and Religion, which led me to hospital chaplaincy. When I graduated from seminary I was sure I’d never be ordained, but I kept responding to the “whisper of God” and here I am.

In addition to my interim priest associate role at St. Martin’s, I work as the chaplain in oncology and high-risk obstetrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Prior to coming to St. Martin’s, I served at St. Peter Episcopal Church in Glenside as a pastoral intern, deacon, and after ordination, priest associate.

My life has been an unexpected journey. It started in Saigon where I went two months after graduating from Oberlin College in 1972. I went for six months and stayed for two years as a freelance radio reporter and writer. I bought my last youth fare ticket in Paris, in April, 1975, and returned to Vietnam because I could no longer stay away. I left in the choppers the day before the country fell to the communists, and wrote a long piece on the U. S. Evacuation of Saigon for Rolling Stone. In 1987, my first book, Shrapnel in the Heart, was published in which I traced those who left letters to the dead at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.I never expected to go to Vietnam but it’s where the rest of my life began. If anyone had told me ten years ago after attending St. Martin’s for the first time that I would be one day serving there as a priest. I’d have been incredulous. Convincing me the world was flat would have been easier.

Last spring, a friend was visiting and I wanted to show her the church where I was ordained. Because of my work at St. Peter’s, I hadn’t been in the sanctuary for a while. The afternoon sun was streaming in the windows and when I entered the church my soul recognized something that the rest of me experienced as a total surprise. I experienced a profound sense of belonging. Yes, I’d been a member for a decade, yes, I have a deep and abiding love for the parish that supported me for ordination, but this was more than that, much more. I realize now that I was being embraced by a future that was coming closer and closer but had yet to arrive.

A few weeks later, I was offered the opportunity to fill in at St. Martin’s for a month, and then, invited to stay for three weeks more. After Rev. Jim Littrell became the interim priest in charge, he invited me to serve with him as the Interim Priest Associate.

But the real blessing is each and every one of you. Your love of Christ, your passion for your fellow parishioners, and your energetic commitment to spreading Christ’s love out into our world continually inspires me.

The Holy Spirit has always led me to a place beyond imagining and each time I enter the sanctuary of St. Martin’s, I know I’m in one of my heart’s true homes.

When I was a teenager, my mother was going through an exceedingly tough time. Out of what then felt like nowhere, that I understand now as somewhere, I said, “After every Good Friday comes Easter.” If “a preacher only ever has one sermon,” then that is mine.


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