In This Issue
PLTS Welcomes New Director of Admissions
Student Spotlight - Christa Compton
TEEM Student Profile - Andrea Doeden
Featured Alum of the Month - Ray Waespi
Professor Jane Strohl goes to Finland!
Change in make-up of GTU
PLTS Board Meeting
Recent Property Upgrades
Founder's Day Report
Multi-cultural Training
Ted Peters' Festschrift
Wednesday Morning Sermons
Position Open: ContextEd Administrative Assistant
Dedication of Woodbury Organ in Chapel.
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

October 2012


Now that the fall semester is well underway, we see again in high relief the main purpose for our existence,which is the training of leaders for the Lutheran church.  Classrooms and hallways are buzzing.  Computer keyboards are clicking.  And the hot beginning of this October is attracting many people to the out-of-door patios for a little responsible sunning.


It is my hope that this electronic newsletter will be able to include in every issue the varied voices of PLTS constituents.  That can be from students, faculty, alums, donors, congregations and even seminary administrators!  So if you think you have something to say to the larger community connected to PLTS, let us know.


New Director of Admissions, Amber Malone, has now arrived from New York.  Her story can be found further down the scroll.  Professor Jane Strohl gives us an entertaining and informative report of her recent travels.  Alum Ray Waespi tells of an interesting partnership with his congregation.  We learn about current on-campus student, Christa Compton. And one of our TEEM students, Andrea Doeden, is also profiled.


President Phyllis Anderson was just off to Chicago for an important trio of events:  the assigning of recent grads to ELCA Regions in preparation for first calls; the meeting of ELCA seminary presidents; and the Council of Bishops meeting. This seminary is very fortunate to have a president with a long and deep history with this church body and its predecessors, and we know she will return with increased spiritual energy and new thoughts, though her body may be weary!


Not to be too northern-hemisphere-centric, but as your gardens slow down with the cooler nights, may your hearts and minds return to the importance of our Christian faith and the communities that gather around it.


God's rich blessings to you,


Brian Stein-Webber

Director of Seminary Relations

PLTS Welcomes New Director of Admissions

Rev. Amber Malone, MDiv '06, originally from Washington State, is excited to return to PLTS and the West Coast after living on the East Coast where she served as Pastor of two parishes in upstate New York.  She has done a lot of work with young adults and accompanying people in ministry discernment.  Amber shares, "I love this work, I find it energizing, exciting, and rewarding.  I'm looking forward to combining it with the promotion of the unique environment of PLTS and the GTU and spending time on the inside of the process of training new leaders for ministry in the ELCA and beyond!"


Amber enjoys spending her free time outdoors, biking, skiing, snowshoeing and running. Just prior to her arrival in Berkeley, she participated on a Ragnar team, a 200-mile (36-hour) relay race in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  Her favorite hymn is a throwback, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. She says, "I tend to draw much of my motivation for church work from the gospels and from the assurance in the epistles that Paul gleans from Christ's words that if we are loving God and one another, we are fulfilling God's commandments and doing Holy work." 

Student Spotlight - Christa Compton

Christa Compton I am a 4th-year MDiv student returning from an internship at Sierra Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Vista, AZ. My internship year was full of rich experiences, and I loved being with people in the daily joys and sorrows of life. I especially enjoyed my internship project, for which I piloted an adult catechumenate process. I was awed by people's hunger for the gospel and their desire to wrestle with what it means to follow Jesus. 


I grew up in South Carolina in a family full of Lutherans and Baptists. I began my career as a high school English teacher in Columbia, SC after graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English and Masters in Teaching. I found my way to California in 2002 in pursuit of a PhD in the School of Education at Stanford University, which I completed in 2007. I enjoyed seven years of working with the Stanford Teacher Education Program, teaching a variety of courses and mentoring people who were entering the teaching profession.  I bring a teacher's heart to the work of ministry, and I see many parallels between these worlds. I'm learning how pedagogical ways of thinking can shape pastoral imagination.


This year I am excited to serve as president of the Student Association. What a great opportunity to build upon everything that make PLTS such a wonderful place!  The newly elected Executive Committee is a committed and creative group, and our goals for this year center on community and communication. We hope to pursue ways that the members of our PLTS community can know each other better and can support one another in our faith and ministry.


I am eager to see where God will lead after I graduate next May. I hope to become a parish pastor, and I have a passion for reaching out to people who are unchurched and those who have been wounded by their past experiences with church. 

TEEM Student Profile - Andrea Doeden

Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) student Andrea Doeden of Trinidad, Colorado has taken the idea of pastoral 'bi-vocationality' in an unexpected and exciting direction. Once ordained, she will be at once the OB/GYN doctor and the pastor in her little community. The story of how she came to this position is fascinating, and it proves, as she says, that 'God indeed has a sense of humor!" And a plan.


Born in Japan to Lutheran missionary parents, Andrea says social services always was her model. She'd wanted to became a full-time medical missionary, specializing in women's health care, and she made short-term mission trips with the Lutheran church to Mexico, Bangladesh and Tanzania.


Even so, while pursuing her MD and doing her medical residency in the US, in Oklahoma, she came to the realization that there were just as many poverty-related issues in this country. She also found that she was doing "lots of theology" in her examination rooms, as she dealt with babies lost in childbirth, women victimized by their partners, and serious health problems. She realized that she needed more; she needed theological training. But she was married and she had a growing medical practice, so she knew she could not go away to seminary. Nor did she know how she might combine religious study with her medical job.


It took one of her patients in Oklahoma City to convince Andrea to take a course in religion. The woman was so excited to be taking courses herself that Andrea took a summer DMin class in Global Poverty from Saint Paul School of Theology. It was there, she says, that she got "clear discernment" not to quit medicine altogether, but to try to combine it with religious service.


But how to do this? Here's the humor, and God's Plan at work. Some years earlier, her husband had wanted to buy some property in rural Colorado. In Trinidad. It was pretty, but it happened to be in one of the poorest areas in the state. It had no women's health care: one had to drive one and a half hours to deliver a baby. There also was no Lutheran pastor in the area ....


So - Andrea wrote to the Colorado bishop. Could she possibly relocate from her wealthy suburban home and practice to little Trinidad and train, through the TEEM program, to become a Lutheran pastor there? She could maintain a part-time medical practice in town and also pastor the Lutheran church. The answer was Yes, and Andrea says, "all has been smooth sailing from then on." Lots of work, lots of study, but a clear plan and much joy.

Featured Alum of the Month - Ray Waespi

Ray Waespi, MDiv '08, currently serves at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fremont, California. He and his wife Lynn have also worked to provide educational opportunities for indigenous girls in the Highlands of Guatemala. 


He writes:


Several years ago at Good Shepherd, we took a serious look at the use of our facility space. Located just across the street from an elementary school, for six years we have had an after-school program providing homework help, socialization, and Christian based activities. The program uses our fellowship hall for their gathering. But with several additional unused classrooms vacant, dark and collecting cobwebs, we decided to see if there were folks in the community who may be interested in using the space during the weekday mornings.


We talked to many neighbors and various churches and community groups. Then, three years ago, the Islamic Center of Fremont, which runs and operates a startup elementary school for selected grades, approached us with an idea. They were interested in using the classrooms during the morning, Monday through Friday, for classes kindergarten through second grade. An arrangement was negotiated and they have continued with us, adding a grade a year. We are now in our third year together, and it has been an exciting three years. The children bring much energy to the facility during the week. It has also been a wonderful journey where two faiths, which historically have not always worked together for a common goal, are finding a synergistic relationship.


Our sharing of space has opened up our congregation's awareness of our Islamic brothers and sisters in new ways. As a Christian community, we have had the opportunity to share stories, put into action our passion for education, and share with our new friends our deep-seated desire for a peace amongst all of God's people. It has truly been a joy and a delight to not only share space with those in need in our community, but also to grow in understanding of our brothers and sisters from a different culture and religious tradition. 

Professor Jane Strohl goes to Finland!

My transatlantic flight went from Memphis, Tennessee to Amsterdam.  When I went through passport control there, the officer asked me about my final destination.  "Helsinki," I said.  He dropped my passport on the counter and looked at me curiously.  "Do you mean you have come all this way to Europe where there are so many beautiful places to see, and you are going to Helsinki?!"


I had been invited to the 12th International Congress for Luther Research, hosted by the University of Helsinki, August 5-10.  So I boarded my next flight and landed in Finland mid-afternoon.  My Dutch friend was unfair.


After getting settled at my hotel, I took a long walk through the city, which offered unexpected combinations of colors, the salty scent of the harbor, and a lovely central promenade, just blocks from my hotel.  This is a wonderful part of European life.  Restaurants, coffee bars and shops line the street, and the broad sidewalks are full of tables and chairs.  Folks sit there enjoying a beverage, chatting, or just sitting comfortably in silence, watching the activity.


I was mesmerized by the number of white-blonde Finns with astonishing blue eyes, and when I stopped looking at them, I started looking in the shop windows.  The stores displayed clothing brands that are familiar to us here in the United States, but the clothes themselves were not the same.  There is a European look, some of it a little wild for my American taste and some of it just gorgeous. 


Read the rest of Professor Strohl's journey

Change in Make-up of Graduate Theological Union

In a recent announcement, we learned that the Franciscan School of Theology, one of the smaller schools of the GTU, will be moving away from Berkeley.  It will be paired with a Catholic school of the Augustinian tradition, the University of San Diego, and will take up residence at a Franciscan facility in Oceanside, which is in the northern part of San Diego County.


Many PLTS alums will remember fine classes taken from professors at FST, and the beautiful traditions of St. Francis of Assisi that they carried forward.  And we will miss them occupying the building with the autumnal orange color.


In the face of lower seminary enrollments, all schools of the GTU are making adjustments and corrections, but we remain confident that our joint ecumenical and interfaith mission is still critically important to the world.  As a matter of fact, enrollment this year in the GTU joint doctoral program is as strong as ever, including Lutheran pastor Dawn Roginski, in the area of worship and theology!


PLTS relies on and contributes toward the GTU consortial library and a joint financial aid office, as well as a limited partnership in communications and marketing. 

PLTS Board Meeting 

The board of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, composed of members from Regions 1 and 2 of the ELCA as well as from the church-wide offices, will be meeting on Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3 on the Berkeley campus.  Their proceedings will be punctuated by The Great Thanksgiving, a dinner honoring the graduating seniors as well as board members, donors, faculty and staff.  The event will take place once again at Mira Vista Country Club in neighboring El Cerrito.


A main agenda item for the board meeting will continue to be the proposed merger with California Lutheran University.  CLU's Board of Regents will meet two weeks prior to the PLTS board, and it is expected that there will be some progress to report.  ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson has agreed to make a brief video for both board meetings, giving his own input about the matter. Incoming CLU board chair, Rod Gilbert, visited the campus on September 27th to meet with President Anderson, and received the royal tour of PLTS and GTU facilities. 

Recent Property Upgrades

Michael Maloney, PLTS Maintenance Supervisor, recently reported some of the repairs and upgrades on campus.  They include:

  • Installation of carbon monoxide monitors in the dormitory rooms and apartments
  • Installation of laminate flooring in the dormitory by volunteers from Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Lafayette, CA
  • Painting of a large exterior face of the Delaware apartments by volunteers from St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Portland, OR
  • Installation of new carpet in Giesy hallway and classroom #1
  • Preparation of the Creston house for the arrival of Amber Malone (and future family)
  • Turnover cleaning and repair of 25 apartments and 19 dorm rooms.

Thanks to all who were involved!

Founder's Day Report

PLTS Board President, Linda Baumhefner is a frequent attender of campus events. She gives the following report of the recent successful Founders' Day:


Dr. J. Kameron Carter was the key presenter at this year's event. His topic was "Bonhoeffer's (and Our) Postracial Blues." It was an amazing, rousing, compelling, audio, visual and visceral adventure. Dr. Carter is an Associate Professor of Theology at Duke Divinity School and a member of the graduate faculty of religion at Duke University. He is the author of (among other titles) Race: A Theological Account (Oxford University Press, 2008), which I highly recommend to you.


Dr. Carter has studied Dietrich Bonhoeffer extensively. He pointed out that Bonhoeffer was originally a traditional Christian and advocate of the German volk. In 1930 he attended Columbia Seminary in New York City, frequenting Abyssinia Baptist Church in Harlem, where he immersed himself in the community and taught Bible studies. That milieu created a new way of thinking for Bonhoeffer.


Read the rest of the report

Multi-cultural Training

In an effort to continue to make the PLTS community a place of awareness, safety and mutual respect, a group of faculty, staff, administration and students met together for a day on September 28 with trainers from Visions, Inc.  The schedule interwove presentations and group break-outs, focusing on transition from monoculturalism to pluralism, oppression theory and behaviors, and types of targeting according to demographical characteristics.


The process of training was itself respectful, with trainers encouraging participants to speak for themselves and to be open about their experiences. The day ended with various groups coming up with ideas about how to move this community along in positive directions. 

Ted Peters' Festschrift

Academic communities have had a tradition of honoring distinguished (often retiring) faculty with a compilation of original essays.  After Dr. Ted Peters, Professor of Systematic Theology, retired this past spring (though he continues to teach classes!), Carol Jacobson, Professor of Practical Theology, arranged for other members of the PLTS faculty to put together a festschrift in the magazine called Currents in Theology and Mission.


The August 2012 issue contains delightful articles by Michael B. Aune (PLTS Professor of Liturgical and Historical Studies), David Balch (PLTS Professor of New Testament), Carol Jacobson, Moses Penumaka (PLTS Director of TEEM and Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology), David Ratke (PLTS Alum and Professor of Religious Studies at Lenoir-Rhyne University) and Jane Strohl (PLTS Professor of Reformation History and Theology).


The articles each use as their touchstone Peters' ground-breaking systematics honoring the powerful pull of what Jacobson coins "God's gift of a future."  Peters' teaching and writings have influenced a couple generations of students at PLTS and the Graduate Theological Union, and further abroad wherever his many books are read.  (And they are indeed very readable!)


If you would like to order a copy of this issue of Currents, visit and contact the proper persons listed under Subscriptions.

Wednesday Morning Sermons

PLTS is privileged to meet as a community every Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m. for weekly chapel.  Presiders and preachers and musicians and assistants come from both within and outside the immediate seminary community.


In September, there was a wealth of worship experiences and insights into the Word of God.  Below are links to sermons by Director of Contextual Education Nan Hirleman, President Phyllis Anderson, and Pastor Jim Lobdell of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Inglewood, California.  May you enjoy THEIR words:

Aug. 29: Nan Hirleman, "New Student Orientation Sermon"   

When my son Jacob was a toddler, he began making funny faces that cracked up the whole family.  One vivid picture in my mind is Jacob sitting in his high chair at his two-year old family birthday party, where he had requested clam linguini. Read more


Sept. 5: President Phyllis Anderson, "Good Soil"  

This weekend I will be at a party in Fountain Valley, California, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of Tim Philips, a 1987 graduate of this seminary. Lots of nice things will be said about him and his ministry because he has been a good pastor and also a member of our board. Read more


Sept. 12: Pastor Jim Lobdell, "Who are our Ninevites?"


On this day after the 11th anniversary of 9/11, I thought it would be helpful to revisit the story of Jonah and the people of Nineveh.  Jonah, of course, was a most reluctant prophet.  For when God told him to go east to Nineveh and prophesy to the people there, what did Jonah do? - he went west. Read more

Position Open

The PLTS Office of Contextual Education is seeking an Administrative Assistant who has office experience, public relations and computer skills, and ability to work in a fast-paced, multi-task, deadline-oriented environment.  Responsibilities include assisting the Director, keeping accurate records and charts, attending to inquiries, maintaining flow of information, supervision of student worker and other tasks.  The position is 19 hours per week and does not entail benefits.  Submit a cover letter and resume, with three professional references, by October 19th, to Nan Hirleman at PLTS, 2770 Marin Ave., Berkeley, CA 94708, or Position will be filled starting October 29th. 

Dedication Concert of Woodberry & Harris Organ

Chapel Organ PLTS and First United Lutheran Church of San Francisco are pleased to invite all interested persons to the dedication of the Woodberry & Harris Organ at the PLTS Chapel of the Cross.  The concert will take place on Saturday, November 3 at 3:00 p.m. on the seminary campus at 2770 Marin Avenue in Berkeley.  Musicians Orion Pitts of First United and Jeffrey Johnson of PLTS will be the featured performers, and the true star will be the marvelous organ.


The historic organ was created in 1889 and installed at First Universalist Church in Melrose, Massachusetts.  It found its way in 1978 to Avalon Community Church on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles.  In 1995, First United heard of the sale of the organ and were pleased to bring it, through member participation, to the San Francisco site.  When the congregation sold its church buildings a few years ago, the organ went into storage.  Since then it has been installed in PLTS' chapel, next to the reproduction of an historic Spanish organ.  The instrument is officially on loan from First United.


Jeffrey Johnson has served three cathedrals and parishes as organist and musician, including Immanuel Church of the Green in Historic Old New Castle, Delaware and Grace Church in New York  City.  He has been featured in recital throughout the nation, including three appearances on the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.  In the new year, he will release an album of organ and vocal music entitled "Grace Squared" with acclaimed New York Soprano, Sarah Pillow.  While pursuing his M.Div. degree at PLTS, Mr. Johnson serves as contemporary music director at Faith Lutheran Church in Castro Valley.


Orion Pitts serves as the organist and music director of First United Lutheran Church in San Francisco. A native of Pennsylvania, he has had an eclectic "non-career" as a professional actor/theatre producer, college professor/department chair, church organist/choirmaster, bank administrative assistant/lackey and waiter.  He holds a BA in Music Ed from Lenoir-Rhyne University, a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from Rutgers Unversity and a certificate in Interspiritual Wisdom from the Spiritual Paths Institute.


The organ concert is free and open to the public.


John Schaumburg, MDiv '72, now serves as the full-time Director of Evangelical Mission at the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA.


Karen Johnson, MDiv '11, is serving as "fill-in interim" pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Novato, California as she awaits her first call.


Christine Higueria-Street, MDiv '12, will be ordained to Word and Sacrament ministry on October 20 at Christ Lutheran Church in San Diego, California.


Gwen Hermanson Schaefer, MDiv '07, will be ordained on October 13 in Minnesota and will serve as pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Los Gatos, California.


Laurie McHugh, MDiv '92, now serves Windsor Community United Methodist Church (just north of Santa Rosa, California), having recently been associate pastor in Palo Alto and Burlingame.


Sarah Cozzi, MCM '04, just gave birth to twins!


Please keep us up to date with your whereabouts and news with this form.