Earlham School of Religion

Student Life

ESR students come from many different walks of life, but together, we work toward a better understanding of one another, ourselves, and God.

Student Life at ESR

Life at Earlham School of Religion is guided by our focus on shared, transformative learning; curricula founded on Friends principles, but open to all who affirm progressive, Christian theology; radical hospitality that welcomes people from diverse demographic, social and economic backgrounds, without regard to gender and sexual identity; and, ecumenical and welcoming to not only Quakers but members of religious traditions that range from evangelical to universalist.

Students and faculty share a journey that is both educational and spiritual. Learning isn’t simply a process of transferring knowledge; everyone involved in the community of learning offers perspectives, questions and insights that enrich and deepen the experience. And while Friends principles shape our inquiry, the process is informed by experiences of students and faculty from other faith traditions. Worship and other activities are central parts of our learning community.

Most students are from the United States, with a small number from other countries. Some are new graduates from baccalaureate programs; others are older adults seeking to either continue their education or prepare for second careers. Some are residents of Richmond, IN, while others commute from nearby cities or participate in hybrid classes or ESR Access. And, there are students of our partner institution, Bethany Theological Seminary, who participate in classes at ESR.

Together, we journey toward a better understanding of ourselves, others and God, and cultivate relationships grounded in respect and integrity. As God works among us, we work with one another to draw out gifts for ministry.

New Student Orientation

As a new student, you will participate in Orientation at the beginning of the semester in which you matriculate. The schedule is carefully balanced to:

  • introduce you to peers, staff, administrators, faculty and, when possible, current students from both Earlham School of Religion and Bethany Theological Seminary.
  • familiarize you with important services, such as Lilly Library, the Athletics and Wellness Center, business office, academic services office, and computer labs.
  • provide essential information about academic programs and policies.
  • facilitate advisor assignments and registration for courses.
  • offer time to relax and interact in small groups at meal times and the end of the day.


Worship is a central part of life at ESR. By experiencing God’s presence together we discover our strongest, most intimate bond. Worship at ESR is the fruit of the School’s emphasis on radical hospitality, or creating safe space for all who wish to affirm their faith.

Worship is multifaceted, and extends beyond our Richmond campus to include many faith traditions, meetings, churches, and other venues.

On ESR’s campus, worship occurs regularly throughout each semester, under the direction of the Worship Committee.

Friday, joint worship with Bethany Theological Seminary alternates between Quaker and Church of the Brethren styles of worship. Members of the combined community plan other workship opportunities, too.

Members of the ESR community are welcome to attend the programmed College Meeting for Worship held each Sunday at Stout Meetinghouse, sponsored and coordinated by Earlham College.

Many faith traditions are represented in the Wayne County, Indiana and nearby Ohio areas, and offer numerous worship opportunities for our students.

Quaker Meetings in Richmond

There are three Friends Meetings in Richmond. First Friends, located on Chester Boulevard, and West Richmond, near the Earlham campus, are both semi-programmed. Clear Creek is unprogrammed and meets on the Earlham College campus. Several more Friends Meetings, as well as congregations of other faith traditions, are within easy driving distance in both Indiana and Ohio.

Quaker Organizations

Richmond is a contemporary worldwide center for Quakers. The central office of Friends United Meeting (FUM), the international headquarters for the largest group of the Religious Society of Friends, is located in Spring Grove, Richmond. Students have access to FUM’s national staff as well as the Quaker Hill Conference Center and the Quaker Hill Bookstore, a Christian retailer at the same location.


Richmond, Indiana is a small city that’s just a short drive from major metropolitan areas like Indianapolis, Dayton, Cincinnati and Chicago.

Housing in Richmond is plentiful and affordable. Options include rental houses and apartments, as well as guest rooms in homes within a walk or short drive of ESR.


We provide alumni/ae, ESR community members, and Quakers with resources to help them find employment. If you are interested in ministry and related positions, we recommend you begin your search at the Quaker Career Center, a service of the Quaker Information Center. Quaker Career Center features current job listings in fields including:

  • Pastoral ministry and chaplaincies
  • Health, community and social services
  • Education & training
  • Library sciences
  • Arts & design
  • Communication
  • Technical professions
  • Office & administrative support
  • Hospitality

You will also find links to online employment resources that can further job searches in all areas of work.

In addition, a file of ministry opportunities is available at the receptionist’s desk in the Barclay Center. The file is available by request during business hours.


Graduate theological education places considerable demands on students in terms of time, attention and focus. As such, it’s important to have strong support networks and to know how to access resources that can help you navigate issues as they arise.

ESR student stories

Learn more about life at ESR through our students’ stories.

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