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In This Issue
Alumspeak: Margaret Duttera, MDiv. '82
Lent: A Time to Wander
Class of 2003 Alumni Reunion - June 23, 2013
Rev. Edward Beckstrom's new book!
Flexible Life M.Div.: First Year Online Option!
Remembering Arthur L. Hewitt
Enjoy a Week of Renewal!
Alum Update: Christoph Behrends, MDiv. '88
Student Spotlight: Ricardo Riqueza, MTS
In Memory of Rev. Elizabeth Joan Lepley, MDiv. '71
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

April 2013
We understand that many hearts are heavy following the events at the Boston Marathon yesterday. All of us at PLTS are grieving and praying for everyone affected. May God give us all strength.

"Let not the flood-waters overwhelm me, nor the abyss swallow me up."

~Psalm 9:16

Greetings in this season of Easter, when we are reminded that God makes all things new!

 

This week we welcome the Board of Directors to the campus for their annual spring meeting.  Our board will vote on the Merger Agreement necessary to create our working relationship with California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.  Since CLU will be assuming fiduciary responsibility for the seminary, they are making sure about the status of our property and finances.  Also, since we will continue as a seminary of the ELCA, we are making sure that PLTS retains the relative autonomy and committed funds necessary to continue our mission.  It is both an exciting and hair-raising period in our history.  We are grateful for all of the goodwill that has grown from CLU and our constituents. Their board votes on the Merger Agreement at their May meeting, which takes place at the same time as their Commencement.

 

Since seminary education in the ELCA and the Graduate Theological Union are in significant flux, the board will also be listening to what our local and church-wide partners are saying about how to continue our jointly sustainable work.  Of course, if the merger goes forward with CLU (which we expect to happen), our board will be making recommendations to their board for final action.  We expect though that they will be relying heavily on the wisdom of our informed and experienced board members, as well as the deep insight of President Anderson.

 

So please keep these proceedings in your prayers!  The PLTS Board Meeting begins Thursday, April 18th at 1:00 p.m. and finishes on Saturday, April 20th at 11:00 a.m.

 

- Rev. Brian Stein-Webber '84

Director of Seminary Relations

Alumspeak: Margaret Duttera, MDiv. '82

In her new book, Life in the Heart of God - A Journey into Relevant Faith, readers are invited to explore what it means to live more fully in God's presence and light.  Margaret retired in 2008 from Christ Lutheran, San Clemente, CA, the ministry which inspired the writing of this book.  A lover of nature, especially water, and serving as Pastor of a small church a mile from the beach, Rev. Duttera decided to take worship out to the people.  She shares:

 

"At our very first service on the beach we had a total of 12 worshipers.  At the time of my retirement, worship on the beach was a year round, every Sunday outreach ministry.  What began with a handful of congregational members in 1993 grew to an average attendance of anywhere between 75 to close to 200 on any given Sunday depending on the time of year and the weather.  On Easter Sunday it was

the norm to have as many as 500 in attendance.  The service also grew to be televised weekly on local public access TV. When dolphins were spotted, we would pause for a moment of wonder and awe and also wave a greeting to each passing Amtrak Train.  

Lent: A Time to Wander
Rev. Amber Remillard, MDiv '06

Here is a thoughtful sermon by our Admissions Director, Amber Remillard, from a recent Lenten service here at PLTS.

 

Welcome to our first regular Lenten service of the year. I noticed the sign coming up on to campus yesterday says "Lent, a time to wander". Of course that's true for all of Lent and it is especially in line with today's reading.

 

And, it actually sounds pleasant enough. Let's wander.

 

Jesus wanders in today's text. He is led out just after the glorious experience of seeing the spirit descend on him like a dove and hearing the voice of God call him beloved. We picture it with people standing all around. Jesus hearing love and encouragement from God the Father. Lots of love for Jesus!

 

...And then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the spirit. Very shortly thereafter, it seems, Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness. So much for love fest. Now there are devils all around him and he is in a desolate place.

 

It isn't a pleasant wander that He is having. Not at all. In fact, it doesn't even sound like a wander by Luke's account. Other gospel writers throw in things like wild beasts, make it sound a little more...wandery. Not Luke. Here Jesus is being led from one painful moment to another. No room to breathe, no reflection time. He is led by temptation, doubt, pain, fear. When it is all over he is famished and his work has only just begun. The wandering perhaps has only just begun. How exhausting and discouraging.

 

Lent is a time to wander.

 

Read more of Amber's Sermon

Class of 2003 Alumni Reunion - June 23, 2013

Save the date! You and a guest are invited to Berkeley for an evening of sharing, reminiscing, and celebrating over dinner. Watch for a formal invitation to come soon. If you have any questions, please contact Sara Wilson at 510-559-2717.

New Book! 

Rev. Edward Beckstrom, MDiv '64

We are happy to announce the March 28 publication of the new book by PLTS alum, Ed Beckstrom, titled Beyond Christian Folk Religion: Regrafting Into Our Roots (Rom 11:17-23)

  

In this book, readers will discover what their "roots" in Judaism really are (Rom. 11:18). It will introduce readers to a new way of understanding the integration of the Hebrew Scriptures with the teachings of Jesus, and how they relate to his emphasis on "The Kingdom of God," and on "The Son of Man." They will see the amazing difference between the logic of the Eastern world and the Western, and how his teachings, parables and riddles, and his healings take on new meanings in the light of that logic.  It will also reveal a new and more comprehensive understanding of the cross of Christ as it displays both his power and glory.

 

The book can be found here. It is also available online through the publishers Wipf and Stock Publishers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, as well as many Christian book outlets. It is easily found by searching "Edward A. Beckstrom."

Flexible Life MDiv: First Year Online Option

Exciting things are happening with the PLTS Master of Divinity degree - we will be offering an option for a first full year of the M.Div. degree fully online.  The faculty has been working hard over the past couple of months, learning the ins-and-outs of online education and reviewing both pedagogical and technological issues.  When Fall 2013 rolls around we will be completely ready to provide online study to first year students enrolled in our "Flexible Life M.Div" option.  Additionally, fourth-year internships, already a common and popular choice amongst students, will be standard at PLTS.  New online possibilities allow us to offer this model while maintaining the integrity of theological reflection and integration during internship, rather than waiting to do so in the classroom the following year. Traditional third-year internships, if required by a student's candidacy committee, will be easily accommodated.

 

Read more about the Flexible M.Div. Program at PLTS

Remembering Arthur L. Hewitt

A friend of PLTS, we give thanks for the life and gifts of Arthur Hewitt.  He passed away on September 19, 2012, in Medford, Oregon after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.  Arthur was born October 1, 1931, in Fossil and was the eldest son of Leonard and Evelyn Hewitt.  He moved to Grande Ronde when he was 5 and graduated from Willamina Union High School.  He married Myrna L. Grosser on June 10, 1955, and they made their home in Brookings where Arthur logged for many years. He also built and operated a mini-storage business with the help of Myrna and their four children. Arthur and Myrna were married for 38 years prior to Myrna's death in March of 1993. 

 

On August 15, 1993, Arthur married Marilyn Cramer. During their 19 years of marriage they enjoyed traveling and golfing together. Arthur was an avid hunter and fisherman. He also enjoyed clam digging, masonry and gardening.  He was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Brookings for more than 40 years. Having a beautiful tenor voice, Arthur sang in the church choir and performed many solos for holiday services and special events. 

 

Arthur is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his children Douglas, David, Deborah Steiner and Diane Bishop; his stepchildren Robert Oliver, Debra Steele and Karen James; his siblings Robert, Gordon, Jean Reeser, Joan Butler and June Story. Also surviving are seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; six step-grandchildren and six step-great-grandchildren.  As a member of the PLTS Remember the Future Society, we give thanks one final time to Arthur for his contribution to theological education.

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.

Alum Update: Christoph Behrends, '88

Before returning home from PLTS Berkeley in Summer 1988, I felt like I had a "mission." What previously had only been a vague ambition was then turning into a rather detailed "vision" of my future in ministry.

 

The disillusionment started only weeks later: parishes and the church in Germany were not at all like my teaching parish in Berkeley nor like any other congregation I had visited in different parts of the US. I was missing the openness, the friendliness, and the good will of people hoping and praying for each other. Instead, I experienced members of my home church here in Germany as people who had nothing in common and who were not connected to each other, except for only a few minutes a week when attending the Sunday services.

 

I will not idealize the church life in the US, but I do think that if I had stayed in Berkeley, I would have become a Lutheran minister together with my classmates Gordon Hills, Joe Beal or Tom Hux, to name but a few. Never before and after have I had the chance to see the church as a family of loving and caring people. 

 

Life has led me to a different path then: instead of preaching I was meant to be teaching. For more than 15 years I have been a teacher for Religious Education (R.E.) and English now, teaching secondary students ages 10-18. R.E. is a subject not many of you in the US will be aware of, but thanks to God's grace and a "lucky moment in history" (in 1949), R.E. in Germany was declared a constitutionally guaranteed civil right that they cannot easily take away again. And R.E. in my opinion serves a double function: it can introduce potentially atheist people to God's love (but students can unselect R.E. and study Ethics instead, so it is voluntary) and it prevents religious fundamentalism from becoming too powerful. 

 

In the meantime, I have become an instructor at a teachers' college near Hamburg, training and supervising future teachers of R.E. My disappointment of not becoming a pastor has long vanished and I have grown to see my path as a fruitful, blessed alternative way of serving Christ. 

 

PLTS Berkeley will always remain my "dream paradise" of spiritual and theological growth. And yet I had to learn to accept that we cannot live in paradise in this life. I had to let go. Actually, I am still learning, because letting go is never easy. Nevertheless or all the more, I am truly thankful for the unique time I had during my studies at PLTS! 

 

May the Lord bless you and continue the good work among you!

 

Cordially yours,

 

Christoph Behrends

Class of '88

Student Spotlight: Ricardo Riqueza, MTS '14

A native of Brazil, Ricardo came to the United States for college.  He spent his undergraduate years in the East Bay, first studying at a local community college and later receiving a Bachelor's degree in English from California State University - East Bay.  It was during his time at community college that inspired Ricardo to want to teach.  He had planned to teach math or English and believes it is because of his mentors and life experience that led him to the Lutheran Church and pursuing a call "to use theology and pedagogy to help the poor."

 

Ricardo's faith journey began as an infant when he was baptized in the Catholic Church.  His first active participation in a faith community did not come until he moved to California.  It was in college that he first found a Missouri Lutheran congregation in San Leandro and later found the ELCA when he joined Faith Lutheran, Castro Valley.  While exploring a vocational future of teaching, he found the PLTS website.  He asked his PLTS alum Pastor about the seminary and his affirming words; "It's a great place with strong academics; I highly recommend it!" that were enough to convince Ricardo to contact the Director of Admissions.

 

And we're glad he did.

 

Ricardo is finishing his first year of seminary and will be spending this summer in Brazil volunteering at Nucleo Maẽ Maria, a church which offers homework help to children in the local, impoverished community.  After he graduates from PLTS next year, Ricardo hopes to enter a Ph.D program in the area.  In his free time, he enjoys cooking and is known in Beasom Dorm for hosting many Brazillian BBQ's!

In memory of Rev. Elizabeth Joan Lepley, MDiv. '71

April 23, 1932 to March 14, 2013

Elizabeth Joan Lepley was not the first woman to attend PLTS, but she was the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Divinity degree (later changed to Master of Divinity).  In a letter that Joan sent to then-President Charles Cooper in December of 1966, she expressed an interest in becoming a hospital chaplain.  It was still four years until the American Lutheran Church would permit the ordaining of women to pastoral ministry, and six years before her denomination, the Lutheran Church in America, would do the same.  She wrote: "From what my pastor has told me, and from talking to one of the PLTS interns who worked in Tacoma, I surmise that you might be cautiously in favor of admitting a woman."   She added, "[Admission] is not something I feel women should demand as a right - I'm not the trail-blazer suffragette type - but I feel I have a genuine calling to serve Christ and His Kingdom in this way."

 

Dr. Cooper responded that her application would receive normal consideration, and he gave her hope that the seminary to allow her to negotiate the program according to her particular needs.  He reminded her that getting a degree was not the same as being ordained, which her synod had responsibility for. He added, "There is no reason at all why we should not have women B.D. candidates...We would stand ready to give you every possible encouragement."

 

Joan came to PLTS as a 34-year-old mother of an eight-year-old daughter.  She had already earned a Master of Science degree in Bacteriology and Biochemistry from Oregon State University and had worked in that field for ten years.  Despite the obstacles and because of her dedication, Joan was ordained in December or 1973, becoming chaplain at Columbian Lutheran Home in Seattle, Washington.  She later assumed the position of Staff Chaplain at Emanuel Hospital and Health Center in Portland, Oregon, where she remained until her retirement twenty years later.

 

There are many students from the Northwest who were influenced and mentored by Rev. Lepley, and many other church professionals who benefited from her colleagueship.  She served on her synod's candidacy committee as well on numerous chaplaincy organizations.

 

This seminary is proud to have been part of  Rev. Lepley's training, and to have opened some doors to her courageous pursuit of call.  In fact, in 2003, she received from PLTS the Alum Award for Distinguished Ministry in Special Service, an award that is given once a year.

 

A memorial service for Rev. Lepley will be held on Sunday, April 21st, 2:30 p.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 5431 NE 20th, Portland, where PLTS alums Rev. Terry Moe and Rev. Melissa Reed are pastors.

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