In This Issue
The Great Thanksgiving
Faculty News
Exploring a Merger
Advent Devotional
You Have a Choice!
IRA Rollover
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! 


November is for Thanksgiving. For counting blessings. For telling the people who love you that you are grateful.

So thank you. Thank you for helping us do our work and thank you for the music you sing into our hearts.

Greatly Thankful!

Great Thanksgiving 2011
The assembly toasts President Anderson.

Friends, staff, grads, students and faculty of PLTS gathered at the Mira Vista Country Club in El Cerrito for the fourth annual Great Thanksgiving. Each November, when the seminary's Board of Directors meets, PLTS uses this occasion to say a special word of thanks to members of the President's Circle and the Remember the Future Society, as well as to faculty, staff and graduating students. In addition, several members of the seminary community are honored as Champions of PLTS by President Phyllis Anderson.


This year, those honored as Champions included Mark and Susan Bertelsen of Palo Alto, Mary Wiese Gundelach, also of Palo Alto, and Saint Luke Lutheran Church, Portland, Oregon.


The Bertelsens have become valued friends of the seminary in recent years, both for their generous support and for the pro bono legal assistance his law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, has provided to PLTS. They are faithful friends of education and faithful members of First Lutheran Church in Palo Alto.


Mary Wiese Gundelach is also a member of First Lutheran Church. Recently, she revised her estate plan to provide a multi-million dollar gift to create the Charles and Mary Wiese Gundelach Faculty Chair at PLTS. A long-time friend of education, Mary wanted to do something extra special for the seminary. With this estate gift, she certainly has. The remarks she made to the group that night can be read here


Saint Luke Lutheran Church's energetic involvement with PLTS began four years ago when Rev. Kathleen Neeley (MDiv 2000) brought the first team of painters to the campus. Since then, Saint Luke has sent a team every summer to paint and spruce and make the campus shine. Each visit ends with the presentation of a handsome check from the congregation for the ongoing work of "their" seminary in the west. Senior Pastor David Knapp and PLTS student Eric Johnson were on hand to receive the Champions' trophy on behalf of Saint Luke.


The evening's master of ceremonies, Joel Wudel, vice president for seminary relations at PLTS, was surprised to learn that he was the fourth champion honored this year. Joel is a servant to PLTS in countless ways: from raising money to support our work to directing the choir; from teaching the endowment lab to finding stewardship coaches for students; from being a listening ear to cleaning up, turning off the lights, and locking the doors as the last person to leave a PLTS event. In a favorite phrase of his, he doesn't waste a lot of time pulling weeds. He just feeds the grass.


The presentations were made between the courses of the delicious dinner served by the club's staff. Everyone in attendance went home with a wine glass commemorating the occasion. For more information about the President's Circle or the Remember the Future Society, click here. You can see more photos from the evening here.

Faculty News

Steed DavidsonCongratulations to Dr. Steed Davidson, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, on the recent publication of his new book, Empire and Exile: Postcolonial Readings of the Book of Jeremiah. Rather than view acceptance of exile as surrender, a postcolonial perspective reads selected texts as resistance and the struggle to survive in a new world.






Carol JacobsonDr. Carol Jacobson, Associate Professor of Practical Theology: Youth and Family Ministries, was on sabbatical during the spring semester of 2011. The foci of the sabbatical were quality seminary education online, Lutheran theologies of the global south, and course construction and redesign. You can read her sabbatical report here.






Alicia VargasRev. Dr. Alicia Vargas has been appointed the new Academic Dean, effective January 1, 2012. We are grateful to our current dean, Rev. Dr. Michael Aune, for his years of service.


"It is with a sense of joy and awesome responsibility that I have accepted the position of Academic Dean of PLTS," said Dr. Vargas. "I've loved PLTS since I arrived in 1991. As a student and as a faculty member and administrator, I am proud of PLTS. With the help of God and my dear faculty colleagues, I will strive in my new position to help PLTS strengthen its thoroughly Lutheran theological formation of our next wave of faithful, evangelical and prophetic leaders for church and world in this pluralistic setting of the GTU."  


PLTS and CLU to Explore Proposed Merger

PLTS and California Lutheran University (CLU) announce that they are exploring and assessing a proposed merger that would enhance the educational offerings of each institution. This process of exploration was formally endorsed by the governing boards of the university and the seminary at their fall meetings.


CLU and PLTS are both schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with complementary missions. The boards of each school seek to discover how the two schools can carry out their missions better together. The faculty of PLTS and the religion faculty of CLU affirm that a merger would be advantageous for supporting the other's programs, delivering shared programs for the church, and developing new approaches to teaching. Beyond the programmatic and educational advantages, operating on a greater scale would make the mission of the seminary even more sustainable over time.


The boards anticipate collaborating in ways that honor the fundamental integrity, identity and mission of each school. This includes PLTS remaining a full seminary of the ELCA, located in Berkeley with continued full participation in the Graduate Theological Union (GTU).


As these schools of the church enter into the due diligence phase of our exploration, they seek your prayers for wisdom, creativity and insight such that both schools can reach an informed decision regarding the proposed merger. Thank you for your continual prayers and support.


California Lutheran University is a diverse scholarly community dedicated to excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies. Rooted in the Lutheran tradition of Christian faith, the University encourages critical inquiry into matters of both faith and reason. The mission of the University is to educate leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment, confident in their identity and vocation, and committed to service and justice.


Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Graduate Theological Union, dedicated to excellence in theological education for developing leaders for the church in the world.

There's A Voice in the Wilderness

Advent 2011It is Advent time again. It is a time to listen again for the voice that brings a word of hope to a weary world and aching hearts. There is a voice in the wilderness and it calls to you with the sure promise that, despite all evidence to the contrary, God is coming. The voice comes just when everything seems most parched and dry and desolate. It whispers peace in the face of war, right in the face of wrong. It brings glad tidings of a Messiah, born in a stable, to set us free.

This Advent devotional is one way in which the voice will come to you through the following weeks. It comes as a gift to you, our good friends, from PLTS and Luther Seminary, where leaders are being formed to make that voice of hope heard in congregations and the world beyond.

Listen for the voice. Prepare the way.

President Phyllis Anderson, PLTS
President Richard Bliese, Luther Seminary
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!
IRA Charitable Rollover Still in Effect

Joel Wudel 3If you are older than 70-1/2, you can make a gift up to $100,000 directly from your IRA to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. The gift can meet your minimum required distribution requirements and will not count as income to you in the year you give it. The gift must go directly from your IRA to PLTS, and would need to be made by December 30, 2011.

If you are inclined to favor the seminary with a gift, this is a great way to make an impact both on the seminary and on your tax bill.  If you have questions, talk to your IRA administrator or call Joel Wudel at 510.559.2711.


Olaf and Kristin Luana Baumann, MDiv 2011, have been called to serve at St. Matthew's and St. Timothy's Lutheran churches in Sudbury, Ontario.


Erica Becker (formerly Adams), MDiv 2007, has been called to Christ Lutheran in DeForest, Wisconsin.


Steve Beckham, MDiv 1996, began a new call on October 1 as pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Naples Island in Long Beach, California.


Aimee Bruno, MDiv 2001, and husband Nick announce the birth of Sterling Weston on October 30.


Ben Colahan, MDiv 2011, has been called as a mission developer in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York.  He will be ordained December 3rd.

Edward Groop, MDiv 1964, is still preaching and leading Bible Study after retiring in 2000.


Dan Hallgrimson, MDiv 1977, will lead a Rotary Group Study Exchange group of four young adults to Malaysia for a month beginning November 15.  


Kim Hassan, MDiv 2009, was installed on Sunday, November 6 at Shepherd of the Hills, Berkeley.


Laura Holck, MDiv 1999, completed the DMin in Preaching in the ACTS program, graduating from LSTC in May 2011. Her professional paper explores the sermon as an event in the lives of God, preacher, and hearers.


Stanley Carl Hoobing, MDiv 1968, finished his sixth interim ministry assignment at Ascension Lutheran Church in Orofino, Idaho, in the afternoon of Easter 2011. He returned to Boise and has been doing pulpit supply in Southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon. In mid-September he officially retired, but is hoping to do more interim assignments in the Pacific Northwest.


John George Huber, ThM 1972, DMin 1984, continues to develop the Ecumenical Collection of John George Huber at the recently constructed David Allan Hubbard Library on the Fuller Theological Seminary campus in Pasadena. The dedication is slated for October or November of 2012. He continues to chair the Faith, Order and Witness Committee of the former Ecumenical Council of San Diego County and attend the monthly meetings of the Faith and Order Commission of the Southern California Ecumenical Council based in Pasadena. In 2001 he completed the Master of Ecumenical Studies program at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Celigny, Switzerland, at the tender age of 70.


Lancelot Themba Mkhabela, MDiv 2005, has been appointed ELCA Regional Representative for West Africa with primary responsibility for our companion church/institution relationships in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana; he will also serve as an ELCA resource person across the region in the areas of evangelism, theological education and interfaith relationships. After undergoing French language studies in Yaounde, Cameroon his base of operations will be Abuja, Nigeria.


Philip Schmidt, MDiv 1973, after serving for 37 years in the Evangelische Kirche in Hessen und Nassau, entered into retirement on June 12, 2011.


Beth Wolslegel, MDiv 2009, and Marcy Yarger had an exchange of vows ceremony on September 24, 2011.


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