In This Issue
PLTS Grad Embodies Spirit of Hope
PLTS Students Awarded Fellowships
Faith Active in Love Travels to Rwanda
New Ted Peters Article
Quick Links
Join our list
Join Our Mailing List
Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

July 2010
We hope and pray you are having a wonderful summer. After a few weeks of quiet, our campus is once again humming with activity. We welcomed our Week of Renewal guests yesterday, and look forward to the return of our ecological hillside management team, Goats R Us, at the end of the week. We (and probably you, too!) rejoice that a new heater for our Chapel of the Cross is being delivered tomorrow. God is good!

June 30 is the last day of our fiscal year. We are so grateful to all of you for your support of and prayers for this seminary during this past year and beyond. Have a blessed day!
PLTS Graduate Receives "Spirit of Hope" Award in Montana
No wonder she was silent. What could Pastor Barb Westhoff possibly say?
Pastor Chris Flohr
Chris Flohr
There she stood, next to Pastor Chris Flohr (MDiv 1992), in front the banquet crowd at the Montana Synod Assembly. Both had just received the synod's "Spirit of Hope Award," which is granted annually for outstanding courage, faith and inspiration. She is the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Westby. He's at St. Paul in Missoula.
If you are looking for inspiration, you found it.
Pastor Westhoff has polycystic kidney disease. It runs in the family and it is serious. Her kidneys were failing and hope was running thin. She was in the fourth stage of the disease. The fifth stage is dialysis. There is no sixth stage. She needed a kidney, and all the usual donor prospects, her siblings, were afflicted just as she was. The waiting list for kidneys is very, very long. Day by day, her condition worsened. What could she possibly do, except pray for a miracle?
She got one. His name is Christian Flohr. He lived up to his name.
In 1980, he had listed himself as an organ donor on his driver's license. Throughout the course of years, he pondered more and more about the possibility of being a living donor. Research demonstrates that organs from living donors prove more effective in helping the recipient live a longer and more normal life. 
He noticed that the synod newsletter sought prayers each month for Pastor Westhoff, so he inquired about her. When he learned that she was failing from kidney disease, he sent her an email. "What's your blood type?" he asked. Not the everyday kind of question you'd ask of someone you hardly knew, but then, Pastor Flohr is no everyday kind of person.
Once he learned that their types were compatible, he offered to undergo the more rigorous testing to determine if he was a match. He was.
So he offered to give her one of his kidneys.
In doing so, he offered her a whole new life. A new kidney, from a living donor, would mean no more feeling lousy all day. A new kidney meant the grim prospect of dialysis would be erased. A new kidney meant she could plan for a long and fruitful ministry and a long and loving marriage.
And so the day came that they both entered the Denver hospital, he to give her life back to her and she to receive it. A month later, they stood together on the assembly stage.
No wonder she was speechless. What do you say to a person who gives you a gift so precious and wonderful and valuable? Are there words?
If there are, Pastor Barb Westhoff continues to look for them. She didn't have them at the assembly banquet, and nobody thought to blame her. She just looked at him through teary eyes. He looked at his shoes, ever the humble servant.
It's hard to tell who emerged the most blessed by the experience. But then it always is in such cases.
One thing is sure. The spirit of hope is alive and well in Montana.
PLTS Students Awarded Fund for Theological Education Fellowships
Maria L. Anderson and Tuhina V. Rasche, Master of Divinity students here at PLTS, have been recognized as young leaders who demonstrate exceptional gifts for ministry by the Fund for Theological Education (FTE).
Maria Anderson
Maria Anderson
Anderson, who will begin her studies this fall, was recognized as a 2010 FTE Volunteers Exploring Vocation (VEV) Fellow, while Rasche received recognition as a 2010 FTE Ministry Fellow. As recipients of a 2010 FTE fellowship, each will receive stipends of up to $10,000 for educational expenses and attend national FTE conferences on leadership. Fellowships are funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. 
Tuhina Rasche
Tuhina Rasche
The Rev. Dr. Michael B. Aune, PLTS Academic Dean, nominated Rasche for the fellowship award. Anderson was nominated by Ms. Rae Chen Huang of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. FTE Fellows are selected competitively by a national committee of theological educators and church leaders from a pool of applicants across the US and Canada. They must be nominated and possess intellectual and interpersonal gifts for pastoral leadership.

FTE awards the fellowships to foster quality leadership and inclusive excellence in pastoral ministry. Fewer than seven percent of clergy in most denominations today are under age 35, and interest among seminary students in congregational ministry has declined in recent years, underscoring the need for leadership development among students from diverse backgrounds. 
Faith Active in Love Program in Rwanda
Every summer Dr. Carol Jacobson leads a program called Faith Active in Love, which is funded by a Lilly grant. This week-long program is designed to help teenagers grow in their faith and leadership in the church. Over the last couple of summers, this program has focused on the members of the Sierra Pacific Synod Youth Committee.
This year, they are trying something new and adventurous. Dr. Jacobson is leading a delegation of 25 people to Rwanda. The delegation consists of sixteen of the committee members and nine adult chaperones. After two days of travel, they will spend 10 days in Rwanda traveling to different villages. They will be guided by folks from the Lutheran Church of Rwanda while they visit hospitals affected by genocide, get to know local youth, and stay in Rwandan peoples' homes. There will also be time to visit local churches and volunteer at the Rwandan Lutheran School.
Participating in this once in a lifetime experience will help the youth of the Sierra Pacific Synod to understand what life is like for people their age in other countries, as well as learn new ways to be leaders in their churches. Next summer, the youth from Rwanda will travel here to participate with the Sierra Pacific Synod youth at the Western States Youth Gathering. This sharing of ministry and the gospel is an inspiration for us all.
Katy Grindberg (MDiv 2006) has a blog about the trip at and the group as a whole is blogging on Facebook -- follow along!
New Faculty Article
Dr. Ted Peters
"Is Craig Venter Playing God with Genetics and DNA?" (Journal of Cosmology 8, May 25, 2010)
Apologies to these class of 2010 graduates, whose details were listed incorrectly in our last edition. And congratulations, once again!
Kung EmilyEmily Kung
Pacifica Synod
BTh, 1994, Chinese Lutheran Seminary
MDiv, 2007, Chinese Theological Seminary
OngRev. Joshua Ong
TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod
BA, 1984, Ecclesia Bible College
MA, 1991, Asian Missiological Graduate School of Theology
Interned at and serving Church of the Living God, Houston, Texas
Hans Koschmann (MDiv 2010) was ordained on June 19, 2010 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, California. Patricia Lowe (MDiv 2006) presided. He was installed as the head pastor at Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City, on June 27th.
Bruce Rittenhouse (MA 2000) received his PhD in Religious Ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School on June 12.
Rebecca Schlatter (MDiv 2001) writes: "I recently published a book on vocation and discernment with young adults, The Treasure Hunt of Your Life. The best part of the process has been facilitating intergenerational conversations between younger and older adults in congregations and campus ministries across the country. I'd love to connect with any other PLTS grads about these topics and opportunities for conversation." You can reach Rebecca at, and find the book and its first chapter on her website,
Wesley Howell (MDiv 1984) was re-elected to a second term as Secretary of the Northwest Washington Synod on May 15. He is currently serving as pastor of Grace, Bellevue.

Your Name Here -- please keep us up to date with your whereabouts and happenings here.