The Reverend David Albert Farmer, Ph.D., has served as Pastor of Silverside Church since 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. In April of 2018, he will celebrate his fiftieth preaching anniversary.
He has taught preaching at Southern Seminary, the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Rueschlikon, Switzerland; and for the last decade at Palmer Theological Seminary, the Seminary of Eastern University, in St. David's, Pennsylvania. Preaching remains Dr. Farmer's professional passion.
Dr. Farmer 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 and the upheaval in governance by the Trump administration before a re-release of the book can be arranged.
His compassion for people who are struggling and hurting makes him at 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 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 and demonstrating his values by being one of the first clergypersons to perform lesbian and gay unions and finally weddings beginning very soon after each became legal.
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," to borrow a name used by a similar group at a church in Richmond, Virginia. Furthermore, he is developing 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 long for the opportunity 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 acting ambition.
Photographs on this page by Amadu Mansaray