In This Issue
Founders' Day
Parish Pastor Award
Special Service Award
Luther Lecture
Welcome New Staff Member
Meet a Seminarian
Reformation Hymn Fest
You Have a Choice!
A Tale of Two Chapels
First Parish Project
Quick Links
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

October 2011

Greetings from PLTS! Welcome to this month's edition of Above the Fog. Feel free to share it with any of your friends who may not receive it. Enjoy!

Founders' Day 2011

We were pleased to welcome nearly 100 guests to the PLTS campus for Founders' Day, held this year on September 21st.


Dr. BedfordThe speaker was Dr. Nancy Elizabeth Bedford, who is the Georgia Harkness Professor of Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.


Sean Raghailligh, first year student at PLTS, writes:


"I came away with a renewed hope that I am not alone in struggling to see God's justice done in the world for all people. While each person's experience was different, it opened doors for conversations to begin in hopes that we can come together and help to solve these terrible issues that are facing a church that is struggling to make God's word relevant to those who struggle not only to stop atrocities, but to survive and thrive in this wondrous world that God has made for us.


"Dr. Bedford showed us that we all can help shape things to come and that the Lutheran Church will be a place of liberating theology for all. As a first year student, I look with anticipation toward the hopeful future that Dr. Bedford has shown us there is."


Before Dr. Bedford's lecture, PLTS presented its annual graduate awards. The Rev. Vera Guebert-Steward was honored with the Distinguished Ministry as a Parish Pastor award, and the Rev. Dr. Peter Hanson with the Distinguished Ministry for Special Service award. Their biographies follow.

Distinguished Ministry as Parish Pastor Award

Vera Guebert-StewardThe Rev. Vera Guebert-Steward is a 1997 graduate of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the recipient of this year's Distinguished Ministry Award for Parish Ministry.

Upon her graduation from PLTS, Vera was called to serve Trinity Lutheran Church in Boulder, Colorado. She served her first congregation faithfully, but even then demonstrated an eagerness to stretch herself by serving also on the Invitation to Service Committee and on the board of directors for the Lutheran Center for Theological Studies in the Rocky Mountain Synod.


When the opportunity to move to Evergreen presented itself, Vera seized it. She was ready for a new challenge, and Evergreen Lutheran Church was ready for her. So when they extended the call to her, she accepted on the spot. That was in February of 2001, when some 300 members worshiped in a little building.


Today, thanks to her compassionate leadership, 800 members worship in a new sanctuary and her members study and learn in new classrooms. And while her church has grown and has invested in expanded facilities, it would be unwise to conclude that her congregation is focused on itself. Throughout her tenure, Evergreen Lutheran Church has very much engaged in the global community: caring for the poor, building homes in Mexico, and supporting Habitat for Humanity.


They have also committed to hosting a seminary intern, and have just completed a year with a seminarian from PLTS.

One of her members said that her pastor's most important gift is promoting a Christ-centered ministry, while another described her as an incredible preacher. Both agree that her kind heart and uncanny ability to make people feel important are what have kept their congregation growing. These things and along with her abundant energy and deep faith have all contributed to her success as a parish pastor, success that she happily shares with her husband of 24 years, Mark.


For her faithfulness to her call and her steadfast leadership to the church, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is honored to present the Distinguished Ministry Award for Parish Pastor to the Rev. Vera E. Guebert-Steward.

Distinguished Ministry for Special Service 

Peter HansonThe Rev. Dr. Peter Hanson is a 1994 graduate of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. A year ago, he received his Doctorate of Ministry from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He studied abroad at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, while an undergraduate.


During the past four years, he served as Theological Advisor for Leadership Development for the Lutheran Church of Senegal. There he coordinated programs for the Department of Theology and Training, including ongoing evaluation of theological education; continuing education for pastors, evangelists and catechists; design and oversight of a candidacy and pastoral formation program; and assistance in securing international scholarships.


From 2004 to 2007, Peter directed the EELS, a church-based, non-governmental organization that coordinates the activities of four major community development projects, including a community center, a primary school, a rural primary health care program, and a dairy project working with a cooperative of herders.


Before that, he served as Director of Community Center Galle Nanondiral, a multi-faceted community ministry focused on education and training. There he supervised a staff of more than 30 full and part-time employees and managed a program that included a scholarly library, vocational training, adult literacy classes, teacher certification and health education, in addition to a well-developed sports and recreation program in the banlieue of Dakar, Senegal.


Peter served as parish pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church of Brattleboro, Vermont, from 1994 - 2001 and has been an instructor, facilitator, presenter and workshop leader at countless courses, workshops and events. He was ordained on June 26, 1994, and commissioned an ELCA missionary on May 19, 2001. He currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, Sarah E. Grow, and their two sons, Elijah Luc and Simon Peter.

Luther Lecture 2011: November 2, 2011
(Please note date change.)

Recovering the Biblical Narrative: The Hymnic Dialog of Proclamation and Response


Registration is now open for our annual Luther Lecture.


hawkinsDr. Robert D. Hawkins, Leonora G. McClurg Professor of Worship and Music at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, will give a keynote lecture on the content of hymnody as it presents the full biblical narrative and music that make this possible. If music is indeed, following Luther, the primary "handmaid" of the biblical text and theology, then questions regarding style remain secondary to the faithful setting forth of the narrative. That the narrative is presented is of primary importance; how that happens needs to emerge from the type of texts crafted.


For more information and to register, click here.


Welcome to Gretchen McDonald!

Gretchen McDonald
We are happy to welcome Gretchen McDonald to the PLTS staff. Gretchen is serving as executive assistant to President Phyllis Anderson. She recently served as an administrative secretary in the Facilities Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, San Francisco Office. She studied at Holy Names University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and a Masters degree in Criminal Justice from Capella University (on-line). Gretchen has volunteered at homeless shelters around the East Bay, working with homeless people and victims of domestic violence, and leading groups with a focus on drug and alcohol addiction.

Meet a Seminarian: Jeremy Serrano

Serrano, JeremyJeremy Serrano is doing his Lutheran year at PLTS.  He would describe himself as "trying to figure out how to be a theologically conversant, culturally engaging, incarnate, missionally focused, liturgically inventive, disciple of Jesus."

Jeremy has been in Youth and Family Ministry for ten years.  He began leading youth groups at the age of 20 at St. Peter's By The Sea Lutheran Church in San Diego. During this time he received a BA from San Diego State University in Religious Studies. He then moved to the Los Angeles area to attend Fuller Theological Seminary where he received a Master of Divinity degree. During that same time, his wife, Jessica, earned her degree from California Lutheran University. While there, he ministered to Lutheran Church in the Foothills as the Youth and Family Minister. Jeremy is currently in the ELCA candidacy process with his twin brother, Joshua, a 2010 PLTS graduate.

Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Jessica, for 11 years. They have three children: Caedmon, 6; Levi, 4; and Benjamin, 6 months old. 
Reformation Day Hymn Festival

NunesYou Are Invited!


Sunday evening, October 30, 2011

7 pm

PLTS Chapel of the Cross


Come and celebrate the Reformation with us, and meet the Rev. John Nunes, President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief (LWR)


Rev. Nunes joined LWR in 2007. With a passion for service and deep commitment to LWR's core values, John leads staff in seventeen countries in working to end poverty, injustice, and human suffering.


Prior to joining LWR, Rev. Nunes served on the faculty of Concordia University, Chicago, as a professor of theology, and as pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Chicago. He has also served as an urban parish pastor and community organizer in Dallas and Detroit. A gifted public speaker, he is also a frequent keynote presenter.

You Have a Choice!

Do you have Thrivent Financial for Lutherans insurance or annuities? You may be eligible to direct Thrivent Choice® dollars to PLTS.  It's your choice!

If you own products from Thrivent, or serve as a Thrivent volunteer in your chapter, you can select PLTS to receive money from Thrivent. If you have already selected PLTS to receive your Thrivent Choice® dollars, thank you!  If you would like to direct your Thrivent Choice® dollars to PLTS, it's simple.  Just call 1-800-THRIVENT (1-800-847-4836) and say "Thrivent Choice" when prompted. Follow the directions on the automated telephone until you are connected to a friendly Thrivent representative. You will be asked for your contract numbers or other identifying information. Once they know it is you on the line, you can make Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary your Thrivent choice. Best of all, you can do this whether or not you make a personal gift to PLTS. This is NOT a matching program. You need not send a gift. Simply call and make PLTS your choice for Thrivent Choice® dollars.

You can also make your selection online. Call or click today. Your dollars will be on their way!

Sabbatical:  Martha Maier

RonchampMartha Maier, MDiv 1989
, writes: "One of my goals for this sabbatical was to visit the inspiration for the Chapel of the Cross at PLTS. Yesterday we went to Ronchamp where we visited Notre-Dame Du Haut. It's on a high hill outside the village -- which has probably been a sacred site since the Romans and before. Previous churches have been destroyed by lightening fires and bombing by the Germans. Although a Protestant and agnostic, architect Le Corbusier designed a wonderfully sacred space that was very innovative for its day -- and I discovered it was dedicated just a few days before I was born in 1955! 

"To get to the church, we walked up a gently curving gravel road through the woods -- the church rises from a grassy clearing with beautiful views on all sides. We spent over two hours listening to the audio tour, admiring the building and site, and praying inside the chapel. It was delightful to see how the whitewash of the walls was punctuated by bright bursts of colors in the windows, doors and a blood red chapel. What I liked most was the outside chapel. The inside space can hold about 200 people, but outside thousands can be accommodated for special services. You can visit my blog here."
The First Parish Project

The Hinton Rural Life Center in western North Carolina is a mission agency of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. They offer a Lilly Endowment program for young seminary graduates called the First Parish Project, which provides ongoing peer support to seminary graduates in a learning community. It serves young clergy who are 35 and younger and are pastors in smaller membership churches (approx. 100 in worship attendance). See their website for more information.


Gregory Anderson writes, "Saw the error of my ways and returned to Canada in the fall of 2009. Living in Northern Alberta has made me think of a class I should have taken at PLTS...bear hunting! My son Jonathan stayed in North Dakota at Minot State and was displaced by the flooding there. He is back in the dorms for his final year and the city is recovering."

Ellen Ayers, MDiv 2011, has been installed at American Lutheran Church in Harlem, Hogeland, and Turner, MT.

Janie Blakely, MDiv 1997, has entered the MS/PhD program for Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University of Maryland starting Sept. 6, 2011.

Christine Buma, MDiv 1983, is the designated pastoral leader of Open Door Ministries in Lake of the Woods, CA (near El Camino Pines Lutheran Camp), just outside of Frazier Park, CA. This ministry is sponsored by the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA and supported by the Episcopal and United Methodist Churches.

Rev. Holly Gunby, MDiv 2000, has been accepted to the CPE Residency program at the Portland VA Hospital. She began the one-year program for certification in September 2011.

Cheryl Hoops, TEEM 2008, is on leave from call to do a one-year chaplaincy residency at Wesley.

Ryan Roberts, MDiv 2009, was ordained on Sunday, September 18th. He has been called to St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Arbutus, Maryland.

Alvin Rudisill just retired after 50 years as Lutheran Campus Pastor, University Chaplainand Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religion and Medicine.

Wes Telyea, MDiv 2010, was ordained on June 11th at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Issaquah, WA and was installed as the Associate Pastor at Saint Andrew's Lutheran Church in Bellevue, WA on June 19th.

Katarína Thapen (née Suchá, from Slovakia), MDiv 2002, MTS 2003, has returned to Prague after a six month stay in San Diego, CA with her husband Neil, a mathematician who had a teaching appointment there. "I want to thank to all my colleagues, staff, professors, mentors and friends from PLTS, some of whom I was able to meet during our short visit to Berkeley this spring. It was an amazing boost for me to see you and PLTS after eight years! The solid theological education I received has helped me enormously in my work in the development of Christian ministry in central Europe."

Ronald Zoesch, MDiv 1971, in July 2011 went with a five member delegation to the Northeastern Ohio Synod companion synod, the Northern Diocese of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa. This was Ronald's second trip to South Africa, having previously visited in 1985. Ronald is currently Director for Evangelical Mission for the Northeastern Ohio Synod.

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