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July-August 2013
Welcome to Alum E-News
United's Alum E-News keeps alums connected with one another and highlights happenings at the seminary. In this issue you'll find links to news about alums, events at United, and alum resources. If you have questions, comments, or news to share, contact Kayla Larson at klarson@unitedseminary.edu.
United at General Synod 2013
How to measure a successful General Synod for United's Admissions staff?

Well, all our D.Min. information folders were gone in the first 2-1/2 days, and that has never happened. And our lunch was a hit--Dr. B rocked it.

Phil Reller '80, who never holds back from speaking the truth, confessed his love for the seminary had been tempered by lethargy in the last several years, but what he heard from our president at lunch on the closing day of Synod inspired him once again and reawakened his own passion and hope for United's future and vision.

Ken Daniel '81 posted on Facebook, "President Holmes made an exciting presentation at Synod last week for the alumni/ae luncheon. Great vision for our school and its unfolding mission of service. Best wishes and let us know how to help our awesome alma mater, United!"

It was a great end to a long five days in the exhibit hall for the A-Team
(Glen Herrington-Hall and Tara Parrish), our excellent volunteer and driver Barb Herrington-Hall, and United's president, Barbara A. Holmes.

Interim Wisconsin Conference Minister Michael Obenauer
Obenauer Rev. Michael Obenauer '77 will be interim conference minister at the Wisconsin Conference UCC, beginning his ministry August 15.

Michael Obenauer has served local churches in Illinois, Minnesota, and Kansas and as an associate conference minister in the United Church of Christ. He is a 1977 graduate of United, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and member of the Interim Ministry Network training.

Wisconsin Conference UCC letter

"A number of clergy from our Conference have known Michael as a pastor in Kansas and Illinois, or they were pastors in Montana when he was on the Conference staff there. Every one of them expressed delight in learning that Michael will be serving among us, knowing him as an experienced, skilled, and caring pastor carrying out his ministry with confidence and humility. We look forward to greeting and welcoming Michael to our community of faith!" 

Recent Alum News and Events

Stina Pope is now the director of the Healing Center on 29th in San Francisco. The Center is a ministry of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation and offers a holistic health model. Stina recently received her M.A. in Holistic Health Ed from JFKU. She is still the p/t vicar of Sei Ko Kai Christ Church in San Francisco.

Rev. William F. Helwig is retiring June 30, 2013, after 41 years serving in the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church. Bill served pastoral appointments in the Wisconsin Conference for 20 years followed by 21 years leading the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation. Every year of ministry has been exciting with new challenges and growth in discovering new ways to celebrate life with others. Bill and Annette hope to continue enjoying their home on 20 acres of woodland near Portage, Wis., and connect more often with family and friends.

1962 and 1971

Frederick Kruse has published his newest book, Voices of the Bible - Speaking Still to Our World. His hope is that "... this book of words and pictures will convey in a meaningful way God's Voice, speaking to us today." The book is dedicated to Frederick's wife Ramona.   

Monique Venne started saying the Roman Catholic Mass at her family's oval kitchen table when she was nine years old. It was 1966...By age 41, she was burned out on her profession. Providentially, she was laid off at the same time. She enrolled in a United Church of Christ seminary... Full story "The Rebel Priests," More magazine, May 2013
As of June 2013, Marva Jean Hutchens retired from active church ministry in Grand Rapids, Minn. She wants you to know how grateful she is for how well United prepared her for ministry.   

The Rev. Mark P. Schowalter was called to be pastor & teacher of St. Luke UCC, Burlington, Iowa, and was installed by his father, Rev. George H. Schowalter, Mission House 1955. Mark was one of the first totally blind students to navigate his way through United with tremendous assistance by his many classmates and his dog guide Babe. Babe received her "helped master through" diploma during graduation ceremonies with Mark and the class of 1984. Mark is in the process of retiring dog guide #5, Dazee, and is looking forward to #6 later this summer. Mark enjoys sailing, church camps, and music.

Matt Fitzgerald in The Christian Century, May 29, 2013, cover story, Embrace & abandonment, a pastor and a poet talk about God.
"In the past few years the editors have gotten to know Christian Wiman, a poet, and Matt Fitzgerald, a pastor. Both have written for the Century. We recently learned that the two often meet to discuss faith and their different vocations."
In Memory and with Gratitude
Verda 2 Verda Aegerter '77 passed away May 18, 2013, at age 98. She was the first female pastor at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

"When The Rev. Verda Aegerter drove to a small-town Minnesota church to fill in as pastor one Sunday in the 1980s, only one member of the congregation greeted her. Others had stayed away after hearing that a female pastor would be presiding over the service, the parishioner told her....  Read full story and obituary.
Mary E. McNamara
Mary E McNamara The United community was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mary E. McNamara on June 15, 2013, in New York City. She had suffered with cancer for the past few years.

Mary served as the seventh president of United from 2009 until her retirement in 2011 due to health concerns....Read full story and obituary.
Ministry with Special Needs Children and Adults
PARABLES is an interactive, hands-on, "special-needs friendly" weekly worship service, open to anyone and everyone. Parables is designed for "the little red fish in all of us"--embracing all people, those with special needs and those without. All are welcome.
United Community News
Dear Colleagues,
The seminary is very pleased to announce the hire of Tom Witt as the new Chapel Music Coordinator. Tom is a freelance church musician, keyboard accompanist and worship leader with over 20 years of experience and co-founder of "Bread for the Journey" ensemble. His keyboard-leading skills are excellent with a spirited, rhythmic and clearly-followed style. He has a deep interest in eclectic congregational song that builds up the church for the work of mercy, peace, justice and inclusion in the world from Gospel to Taizé and Iona, and from 4-part African song to traditional European hymnody. In his work with the Bread for the Journey ensemble, he has helped dominant-culture worshippers learn and appreciate singing songs of faith gathered from around the world. Tom writes, "I can imagine that the repertoire and resources with which I am familiar would dovetail nicely with many of those leading worship at the seminary. And I would look forward to learning from worship leaders there, and collaborating with them to create meaningful worship services with rich musical experiences."
My deep appreciation to Sue Ebbers, Cindi Beth Johnson and Margaree Levy for being a part of the interview team.
            ~Martha Postlethwaite, Chaplain
United's Annual Fund Report

We Got Pretty Hot!!!


Thanks to your generosity and that of our other alums, friends, and congregational partners, this year's Annual Fund raised $856,000.


Gifts from alums, churches, foundations, friends, and faculty and staff members all came in well above 2012 totals. This is excellent news. Your gifts for our 2013 fiscal year helped lay the foundation for significant new initiatives:

  • Enhanced arts programming, including the addition of a visiting professor in theology
    and the arts
  • Hiring a new professor of pastoral care
  • Exciting new and revised courses geared for lifelong learners
  • The emerging leadership of the Center for
    Public Ministry
  • Significant progress toward the development
    of an online degree program

However, this good news is tempered by a $65,000 shortfall in our target goal, which means that, together, we have more work to do over the coming year.


We are at an important, creative, watershed moment in the history of this seminary. Each one of you has the opportunity to become an active ambassador for United this coming school year. We hope you'll learn about what's going on at the seminary through our e-publications like "Worth Noting" and "Alum E-news," like us on Facebook and tweet us, attend events, take a class. And bring your friends along!


The Spirit is moving--you won't want to miss it!


Blessings in your ongoing work and ministry,

        ~Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Holmes, President 

Resources and Opportunities for Alums

Make a Gift
The Annual Fund and Scholarship Fund are vitally important to United's work today and to ensure a thriving future. Make a gift today to support theological education at United.

Alum Resources
United has many resources available to alums, including a job opportunities page, information on auditing a class, D.Min. program information, the Institute for the Support of Pastoral Ministries, etc.

Update Your Information
At United, we do our best to stay in touch with our alums. That means we need your help in keeping our records up to date. Please let us know if you have a new address, phone number, name, etc.

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