In This Issue
An Announcement from the President
Staying Motivated
2013 Luther Lecture on March 20
Week of Renewal, June 24-28
Mary Lindberg, '86, publishes new book
Dr. Derek Nelson, '06, appointed director of the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program
Sermon: W...e Must Fight
Exciting Times Ahead! Merger with CLU
Dennis Mower Memorial Book Fund
Parables NYC: Fostering Faith through Art
Alums on Prison Ministry
Student Spotlight: Anja Helmon
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

January 2013



It's February now, and quickly approaching Valentine's Day! Although not necessarily everyone's favorite holiday, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be about what kind of flowers a wife gets for her husband, or how nice of a restaurant someone can get reservations at. Instead, Valentine's Day should be about expressing love in an honest, pure way. Certainly it means showing your affection for your significant other, family members, and close friends, but as Christians, our family spreads far beyond our blood-relatives. Take for example, the prison ministry articles featuring Steve Hokonson and Julie Webb: they showed true love to our brothers and sisters who rarely know affection; or Ben McKelahan, who shows God's love to strangers in New York. Valentine's Day could also mean showing love to yourself! Maybe you've been running around and bending over backwards for others, but have neglected that yoga session in the forest or that soothing bath you meant to take. Continuing our January wellness theme, Sara Wilson offers some tips on how to care for your soul as well as your body - take a look! As you go about your daily tasks, take advantage of opportunities to show love to unexpected people.


Live well and love freely!


Wren Gray-Reneberg

Office Manager, Seminary Relations 

An Announcement from the President

Dr. Phyllis Anderson announced last Wednesday morning in chapel that she will be retiring as President of PLTS at the end of this calendar year. She said: "While I am healthy and full of energy, I know this cannot go on forever. I have been working for over a year now to discern the timing of my retirement to be the most strategic and least disruptive for the seminary. The timing is complicated because we are in the middle of a merger process with California Lutheran University, which I would not want to complicate by a change in leadership. My decision to extend the timeline until the end of this calendar year, December 31, 2013, allows me the opportunity to shepherd the seminary through the initial implementation of the merger, assuming it happens. It also allows for the university and/or the seminary to conduct a search for a new leader who can take the school into its new future. I would hope that person could be in place and ready to go by early January, eliminating the need for an interim. Much of what we have built with CLU in terms of solid agreements and a common sense of purpose could be lost in translation. The future of the merger depends so much on good relationships and trust. This is a time for strength, and continuity, momentum and vision."

Next year, she and her husband Herbert will move to Sonoma. In the meantime, she says: "I'm not going anywhere. I will be your president one hundred percent all year long, loving you and working toward a vital, sustainable, forward-looking future with you and with our partners at CLU, in the GTU, and in the ELCA." 
It's February - Staying Motivated
The commitment to walk four times a week in the morning, trying to eat more fruits and veggies, or to try that new yoga class down the street - they ARE good ideas!  

Join us for the 2013 Luther Lecture on March 20

Luther Lecture 2013Old Foes, New Partners?: Martin Luther and Karl Marx

Presented by Dr. Thomas A. Brady, Jr.


The British philosopher Andrew Collier recently announced, "I want to make Lenin and Althusser meet Augustine and Luther!" Karl Marx's initial encounter with Martin Luther had indeed been positive. In the spirit of German radical philosophy, Luther came to be regarded as a voice for freedom. While this evaluation persisted among some socialists in other lands, in post-1848 Germany Luther came to be cast as the chief betrayer of the revolutionary cause at the time of the Reformation. Hostility to Luther dominated German-speaking socialist/Marxist views until around 1980, when the East German government decided for an official celebration of the Luther jubilee in 1983. The fall of the Soviet Union and Germany in 1989-90 changed the situation entirely, and there are now signs of a new evaluation of Luther in neo-Marxist and radical Christian circles.


Visit for more info about Dr. Thomas A. Brady, Jr. & this year's Luther Lecture, or register now!


Enjoy a Week of Renewal at PLTS: June 24-28, 2013

You are invited to come and experience a week of restoration, fun, and learning as we gather together for worship, classes, conversation, and Bay Area sight-seeing!

A Week of Renewal at PLTS promises to offer five days of exciting time with new and old friends, knowledgeable faculty, and exploring Berkeley and San Francisco.  Participate in classes during the day and explore Tilden Park, see the Golden Gate Bridge, attend a Giants game, or see a show in the evening!  


A full schedule and more information are available online here. Don't miss out; register online today! Registration Deadline is May 31st, 2013.

Mary Lindberg, MDiv '86, published new book, The Graceful Exit

Mary C. Lindberg, MDiv '86, recently published a new book titled The Graceful Exit: A Pastor's Journey from Good-byeto Hello through Alban Institute. The book is about pastors saying goodbye to congregations. Sometimes their goodbyes are timely and sweet; sometimes they are jarring and painful. But as they leave, they face a unique journey of grief, one shaped by their role. They face both the outward grief of leaving people behind and the inward grief of leaving an identity behind. In The Graceful Exit, Lutheran pastor Mary Lindberg shares insights from her experience of ending her service to a congregation, as well as wisdom from other pastors who have changed their life work.   


The book has been highly praised by clergy in both Christian and Jewish communities. It's available through through Alban Institute and Amazon.

Dr. Derek Nelson, PhD '06, appointed director of the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program

Wabash College President Patrick White has announced the appointment of Dr. Derek Nelson as the new director of the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program. Dr. Nelson, who is a member of the Wabash College Religion Department, succeeds the founding director, Dr. Raymond Williams, and his appointment is effective January 1. In addition to teaching in the Religion Department at Wabash College, He will be directing a program for younger (5-10 years' experience) pastors in the state of Indiana. Read more about this new chapter in Dr. Nelson's life at


Furthermore, Derek Nelson, Josh Moritz (PhD '11) and Ted Peters also published a new book, titled Theologians in Their Own Words, about to be released in a couple weeks. Purchase the book or find out more at Fortess Press.

Sermon: We Must Fight

by Jane Strohl

Candlemas, February 6, 2013, Luke: 2:22-40    


Lucy and I were seated beside a pair of Jersey boys, jovial brothers who kept "high tenning" each other and then us.  Once the concert started, the brother next to me kept turning around with this goofy grin and saying, "Terrific, huh?  Just unbelievable!"  At the end of the performance (2 hours of sexy, strutting Stones paradise), he told me that he had been to every one of their New York concerts since 1981.  "But this is the best one ever, hands down.  Just incredible.  If I died tonight, I would leave this world satisfied."  Considering the price of the tickets he should have. 


Read more Professor Strohl's Candlemas sermon  

Exciting Times Ahead! Merger with CLU 

by President Phyllis Anderson


Step by step PLTS is moving closer to the proposed merger with California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.  The conversation began more than two years ago.  Our alums, students, faculty, donors, board members and friends have been extensively consulted and have contributed their wisdom. 

Read more from President Anderson's update on the CLU merger  

Dennis Mower Memorial Book Fund

In honor of beloved alumni Dennis Mower, MDiv. '90, a fund sponsored by his family is being created. The money in this fund will go to aid students who need to purchase textbooks for their classes - textbooks can be quite expensive, sometimes totaling $350 for a semester. Dennis's love for PLTS was enormous, and he recognized how some students struggle to purchase the required and recommended textbooks. We all hope that this fund will help ease the path of the current students here at PLTS. To contribute to the Dennis Mower Memorial Book Fund, please make checks out to "The Dennis Mower Memorial Book Fund" at: PLTS 2770 Marin Ave., Berkeley, CA 94708.

Parables NYC: Fostering Faith through Art

by Ben McKelahan, MDiv, '11 


My first Christmas night in New York City was spent inviting strangers in the park to dip golf balls in different colors of glow paint and drop them down a glow-stick pegboard.  As the balls would randomly bounce down, they would leave color trails of light, and at the bottom they would land in one of four dog-bowl "mangers" to win prizes of suggested random acts of kindness.  People of all ages would come and play; then they would stare at the clerical collar I was wearing and ask, "Why are you doing this?" My response was, "It's Christmas. Tonight we celebrate light appearing in a feeding trough to give love to the world."  


Alums on Prison Ministry: Stephen Hokonson, MDiv  '79, and Julie Webb, MDiv '99
"Being There" by Stephen Hokonson, MDiv. '79


Slapping 1400 six-packs of Snickers Bars between the bars of inmate's cells on Christmas Eve 1993 was how Greg, the Catholic Chaplain and I celebrated Christ's birth.  It was heavy, hot, and stuffy by the time we reached the top tiers and we hardly waited for any responses as we hurried to get the job done.  



Read more about Stephen Hokonson's reflections on prison ministry  


"Specialized Ministry" by Julie Webb, MDiv. '99


Jail and prison chaplaincy can be a real balancing act:  you're navigating between inmates and detention staff constantly-those who are imprisoned and those who are keeping them there.  Both groups are thirsty for spiritual support.  As chaplain, I think, you are called to identify with each group, but not to over-identify; and you always have to follow the rules of the facility, to help keep everybody safe. Be patient with our imperfect Lutheran categories for ministry, and find a way to do what you are being called to do right now (even if it doesn't feel like a lifelong calling).  There are ways to seek the community's affirmation of your call.


Read more about how Julie Webb navigate the balancing act of prison ministry  

Student Spotlight: Anja Helmon

Anja Helmon is a Lutheran Year student here at PLTS, meaning she is attending PLTS for one required year at a Lutheran Seminary before she returns to the seminary she began at in pursuit of a Lutheran degree. For Anja, that was Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry. Her blog, Following My Path at PLTS, does precisely that - allows her readers insight into what it's like to leave a husband and well-established home for a year and be thrust into a new city, state, and school with the goal of exploring her faith and self. Every student creates his or her own path while here at PLTS. Sometimes it's clear and other times the path ahead of them is as fogged up as the Berkeley hills. Through fog and sun though, Anja's well-stated thoughts and feelings are a treat to read. 

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