Alum E-News
April-June 2012



United's Alum E-News keeps alums connected with one another and highlights happenings at the seminary. Alum E-News is generated from information by alums, so please send news you'd like to share for the next issue to by May 15.


United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities has announced the election of the Reverend Dr. Barbara A. Holmes of Memphis, Tennessee, as its eighth president. Dr. Barbara Holmes


United's Board of Trustees confirmed Dr. Holmes' appointment Wednesday, March 28, after which the new president addressed the board and spoke to members of the faculty, staff, and students. Dr. Holmes will relocate to the Twin Cities and assume her duties in July.


"The selection of Dr. Holmes signals the beginning of a new era," stated the Reverend Carolyn Hendrixson, board chair. Hendrixson continued, "For seminaries around the country, it's no longer business as usual. Our leaders need to be multi-faceted administrators, fundraisers, and program innovators. We have found this dynamic combination in Dr. Holmes, and we look to her leadership to move our progressive initiatives forward."


Find more information about Dr. Holmes on our Web site and watch the video below. 


Meet the Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Holmes, new president of United
"In Her Own Words..."
Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Holmes


Spring Convocation
A 50-year Reunion


If you haven't registered already, we encourage you to do so. Don't miss out on a very special 50th Anniversary Convocation. There are lots of stimulating activities and we hope you'll be part of the fun and inspiration.

Preview Event
April 24, 2012  

Sampler classes, alum art exhibit sneak preview, and a Convo Cabaret emceed by Leslie Ball. Read more.

Spring Convocation
April 25 & 26, 2012 

Join beloved faculty, staff, and classmates for a glimpse of the past, present, and future! Special events include small group sessions, an alum panel: "Voices across the Decades," an alum art exhibit, a reception honoring retired faculty, staff, and anniversary classes, and much more. Click here for more information and to register.  


Display your book 

Have you recently published a book and would like it displayed at convocation this April? 

  • Please send author name, book title, and ISBN number to Cokesbury ( so they can order copies for the store to sell.
  • For out-of-print or author-published books, bring copies to Cokesbury and provide information for individuals to purchase directly.

Questions? Contact Cokesbury manager Meredythe Jones Rossi at or 651.638.1960. 


Share your memories

We are looking for fond memories from our alums about their time at United/Mission House/Yankton. Some of these will be read at the Reunion Lunch during convocation or included in the memory book we are putting together to commemorate United's 50-year anniversary. Please send your memories to Kayla Larson at


Recent Alum News


Shai Wise was ordained on January 8, 2012, at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minn.

St. Peter's UCC in Stillwater is pleased to announce that, by unanimous vote at a congregational meeting on March 4, 2012, Zoe Kuester will begin serving as acting pastor on April 1, 2012.

Aaron Lauer presented a paper titled "Thine Alabaster Cities Gleam: Civil Religion, American Hegemony, and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair" at the Upper Midwest Regional Meeting of AAR/SBL on March 30, 2012.

Paul Van Antwerp was ordained on March 18, 2012, at Peace United Church of Christ in Duluth, Minn.

Mickey Olson will serve (licensed local pastor) the Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert Parish (North Star District of the UMC) effective July 1, 2012.

Carol Zaagsma will serve as full-time pastor of connections and christian fellowship at Mankato: Centenary (Southern Prairie District of the UMC) effective July 1, 2012.

Todd Smith Lippert has been called to First UCC in Northfield, Minn., beginning there in May 2012.

Sara Morse and her husband, Timothy Winn, announce the birth of their son, Daniel Edward Winn, on Friday, January 13, 2012.

Mark Schwinn, his wife Amy, and their son Otto have welcomed into their family a son, Ira James. He was born on March 6, 2012.

An interview with Kimberly Vrudny was featured in the Winter 2011 issue of the Church Health Reader. Vrudny shared about her work in an interdisciplinary study of theology, including public health, humanitarian engagement, and documentary photography. Read the full article.


Rev. Rufus Campbell was appointed to Brooklyn UMC as full-time lead pastor in February 2012.

In Memory and with Gratitude  

Virginia Fledderjohann Stoeckel died in January 2012. She was the oldest of three children of Rev. Adolph (Mission House alum) and Matilda (Meckstroth) Fledderjohann. She was the aunt of Andrea Stoeckel '89. Read the obituary here.

Ernest R. Klaudt '43 passed away October 24, 2011, at the age of 92. Read the obituary here - page 12.

Rev. Elton Ryberg '83 passed away December 2011 in Northfield, Minn. Read the obituary here.

Edson Spencer, a great friend and supporter of the seminary, died on March 25, 2012. His wife Harriet served on United's Board from 1978-86. Among their many contributions, Ed and Harriet underwrote the renovation of the Spencer Library in 1992. Read the obituary here.

James Westpfahl '60 died on February 2, 2012, in Montgomery, Ohio. Read the obituary here.

Upcoming Events
Book Event: "Burning Center, Porous Borders" by Eleazar Fernandez 
Thursday, April 12, 12:15 PM
Celebrate the publication of "Burning Center, Porous Borders - The Church in a Globalized World" by Eleazar S. Fernandez, professor of constructive theology. Lunch will be available for purchase in the Context Café. Meet in the Strobel Room (McMillan 209) at 12:15 PM. Read more.

Gustafson Lectures in Biblical Studies

Dr. William P. Brown
Monday, April 16, 7:30 PM
Tuesday, April 17, 11:00 AM
Dr. William P. Brown, professor of old testament language, literature, and exegesis at Columbia Theological Seminary, has abiding interests in the use of scripture in the life of the church and contemporary theological discourse, as well as in the ancient cultural contexts out of which scripture emerged. Read more.


Westminster Town Hall Forum

Parker Palmer

Thursday, April 19, noon-1:00 PM

Co-sponsored by United Theological Seminary 

Parker Palmer is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. A writer, speaker, and activist, his nine books include, among others, Let Your Life Speak, A Hidden Wholeness, The Courage to Teach, and his newest, Healing the Heart of Democracy. In the fall of 2011, Utne Reader named Palmer one of 25 Visionaries "Who Are Changing Your World." Read more.    


The Center Holds: Reflections on the Marriage Amendment with Carolyn Pressler and Sue Ebbers

Tuesday, May 1, 1:00-4:00 PM

United faculty member Carolyn Pressler and her partner of 15 years, Sue Ebbers, dean of the seminary, provide personal stories and biblical and theological tools for helping your congregation respond to the marriage amendment. Read more and register.  


Theological Book Club: "God in Public: Four Ways American Christianity and Public Life Relate" by Mark G. Toulouse

Thursday, May 10, 7:30 PM 

Facilitator, Steve Newcom
This book club offers an opportunity to read books that represent the innovative thinking and creative experience that define the educational experience at United. The books and discussion will provide thought-provoking and stimulating conversations with insights for our lives today.
Read more and register.

Sunday, May 20, 2012, 3:00 PM
Plymouth Congregational Church
Speaker: Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, senior minister, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. Read more.

Educational Opportunities


The Academy for Vital Christianity

Upcoming classes: 

  • "Great Theologians of the Church Speak to Today: Reinhold Niebuhr" taught by Paul Capetz
  • "Finding God in Everyday Life" taught by Eleazar Fernandez 
  • "Controversies, Councils, and Creeds: Nicea Then and Now" taught by William Bulson 
  • "Leading in a Time of Change" taught by Jean Morris Trumbauer 
More Academy information and registration.

The Institute for the Support of Pastoral Ministries
Upcoming special topics course:
  • Assessing and Dealing with Issues of Suicide
    Monday, May 14, 9:00 AM-3:30 PM
More Institute information and registration.

In This Issue
Spring Convocation
Recent Alum News
Upcoming Events
Educational Opportunities
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