In This Issue
2013 Graduation Announcement
What Now, God? Retreat
Sermon by Christa Compton, MDiv. '13
Alum Speak: Pam Fickenscher, CATS '95
Lana Dalberg's New Book!
Classmate Remembers Joan Lepley
Last Chance! Come Renew with us!
Alum Updates
Ministry and the Gospel is Public!
In Memoriam: Barbara Stuhr
Reflections from a reader about Arthur hewitt
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

May 2013

Dear friends,


A week from this Saturday, on May 25th, PLTS will hold its annual Commencement.  Forty-two students will receive diplomas and certificates, ranging from the Ph.D. through the Master of Divinity to the Certificate of Theological Studies.


In a situation that might happen rarely, there will be at least one person who receives every single one of the degree or certificate options that we offer!


So there are people getting purely academic degrees, those who are finishing studying all four years at PLTS for their Master of Divinity, diaconal candidates who studied for two years here, persons who have received their Master's degree from other seminaries and came here for their "Lutheran year," international students staying for a year, TEEM students who have finished their own four-year program and are ready to be ordained, and more.


Even though this is a smaller seminary, it is full-service!


So please continue to keep the people of PLTS in your prayers, as faculty, staff, students and supporters work together to provide important new leadership for the ELCA.  We are excited about those graduates who are now seeking (or have already received) their first calls to ministry. They are some of the best God has to offer!


Rev. Brian Stein-Webber

Director of Seminary Relations


P.S.  The PLTS Board voted at their April meeting to approve the proposed merger with California Lutheran University.  The CLU Board of Regents votes on the proposal this coming weekend.  Their vote then goes to the CLU Convocation for ratification and final approval.  (The Convocation already voted in a meeting a few weeks ago to recommend that their board vote yes!)


There are new accrediting procedures that CLU must follow in this merger, which may delay our hoped-for merger by some months.  So it is unlikely that the partnership will become active this summer.  Nevertheless, expectations and delight remain high around the campus.  Look for more in the next newsletter.

2013 Graduation!

What Now, God? Exploring Career, Vocation, and Self in Mid-Life

Are you in midlife and feel like what you have been doing is no longer satisfying?


Have you found that your mind and spirit are changing, or that you have a vague calling to something new and presently unknown? 


Would you like to do some discernment among and with people in a similar situation? Would you like to petition God about all of this?


Then this retreat is for you!

"What looks like falling can largely be experienced as falling upward and onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness, is finally connected to the whole, and lives inside the Big Picture.

- Father Richard Rohr

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Sierra Pacific Synod are co-sponsoring this retreat for persons inside and outside the ELCA in Northern California and Nevada to meet in a retreat setting to explore what God is doing in their lives.


What Now, God? Exploring Career, Vocation and Self in Mid-Life

July 22, 6:00 p.m. to July 23, 7:00 p.m.
Christ the King Retreat Center
6520 Van Maren Ln., Citrus Heights, CA 95621


Click here for more information and to register 

Sermon by Christa Compton, M.Div '13 

Acts 9:1-20

Today's reading from Acts was the basis of the very first sermon I ever preached 25 years ago as a high school student in South Carolina. It was Youth Sunday, and I had somehow been tagged to be the preacher for the day, which involved a fair amount of agony in the preparation. I remain grateful to Pastor Dick Webber for guiding me through it. I don't remember much about the sermon itself, but I do recall having two clear thoughts when it was over. One was, "Hey, that was kind of fun." And the second was "You would have to be out of your mind to do that every week."
Trust me - I can see the irony. The long view of history has revealed that I am apparently out of my mind. 
Perhaps no one can appreciate the irony of the long view as much as our friend Saul-turned-Paul. No one was a more devoted enemy of Christians. He was all in. The first time we see him in Acts, Saul is the coat check boy at the stoning of Stephen. He may not himself have been the one bashing Stephen's head in with a rock, but scripture makes a point of telling us that Saul approved of the killing. That incident unleashed a full-scale persecution that scattered believers in all directions. In Chapter 8 Saul graduates from willing accomplice to active threat; we find  him "ravaging the church by entering house after house, dragging off both men and women" and putting them in prison. So by the time we meet up with him on that road to Damascus, we understand that Saul is serious about "breathing threats and murder against the disciples." It's not a figure of speech. With every breath he seeks to destroy those who follow Jesus. 

Alum Speak: Pam Fickenscher, CATS '95

Rev. Fickenscher attended PLTS for her Lutheran year and has served congregations in the Twin Cities for the past sixteen years.  Her first call was as a mission developer for Spirit Garage, "The church with the really big door."  In 2002, she began her current call at Edina Community Lutheran Church, also in Minnesota.  When she has time, she publishes a blog, Living word by word, a place where you can find many of her sermons and much more. 


"I started blogging as a way to stay connected with my mission development cohort (a group of people that eventually became identified with the emergent church movement) and to have somewhere to park all the thoughts about ministry and parenting that never fit into a sermon...occasionally I find that the blog starts some good conversations in my ministry."  Check it out!

Lana Dalberg Publishes New Book

Birthing God: Women's Experiences of the Divine is a collection of interviews and is an excellent study of women's personal spiritual experiences across various faiths. Lay theologian Dalberg interviewed 40 women on their relationships with the divine, which they may identify as God, Goddess, Mother, Creator, or various other terms. Each interview runs approximately five pages in length. Respondents answered inquiries such as "Think of one instance when you felt in a very palpable or otherwise powerful way the presence of the Divine" and "What had been your religious experience up to that point?" Following each interview, Dalberg includes questions and an activity that is in some way tied to the essence of the preceding interview. Many of the activities involve meditation and relaxation techniques, yet others require movement, such as walking a labyrinth. 

The book also has a section titled "Meditations and Visualizations" with step-by-step instructions for several practices. The brief "Suggested Resources" section includes not just books and blogs but retreat centers, ministries, and related places.  This book will appeal to readers with an interest in women's spirituality, feminist spirituality, ecofeminism, and interfaith examinations of religious experiences. Its structure also makes it a good choice for reading groups.


-Stacy Russo, Santa Ana Coll. Lib., CA

Classmate Remembers Joan Lepley

From the first I knew, Joan belonged in seminary.  She had a gifted work experience prior to coming to seminary and was more mature than most of us who came right from college.  Very soon I also realized how much she knew about theology and yet was grounded in her faith and able to use her people skills in her ministry.  Although I suppose I realized she was the first woman who was moving toward ordination from PLTS, I was oblivious to all the "hoops" she had to go through to get here.  Her smile and partnership in this enterprise of learning and growing in our ministry was a gift to all of us.  She clearly had a vision and set her sight on that, never letting us know the stress she likely was under to "succeed".  I also recall she was one of a few seminarians who had a child and that was fun to see her care and concern as her daughter grew up at the seminary.


Looking back, I am so grateful now to have known her, learned from her and be blessed by her presence.  And, also looking back, I rejoice that in a very big way the seminary turned the corner (even now the church is still not there) in acting out the promise of Galatians, "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."  I am blessed now to work with one of a few bishops who are female and I pray that the church continues to move faster towards using the gifts of all in the spirit of Joan Lepley.  God's eternal love and peace rest with her.


- Pastor Ron Zoesch, M.Div '71

Last Chance! Come Renew with us! 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 Updates

Rev. Ron Zoesch, M.Div '71 will be retiring from the Northeastern Ohio Synod as the Director for Evangelical Mission on July 31.  He and his wife, Robin, plan to move to Sacramento.


Rev. Doug Kempe, M.Div '84 is now serving as Chaplain at St. Alphonsus Home Health and Hospice in Boise, ID.  He and his wife, Deirdre, are expecting their sixth grandchild soon!


Rev. Martin Malzahn, M.Div '03 has been called to serve as Assistant University Chaplain at Columbia University in New York.


Rev. Angela Freeman, M.Div '04 now serves the Lutheran Church of Honolulu in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Rev. Calvin Oraw, TEEM '07 has been called to serve as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Dickinson, North Dakota.


Rev. Jason Lukis, M.Div '10 is serving Grace Lutheran Church in Des Moines, WA.  He and his wife, Danae, celebrated the birth of twin daughters, Anja Violet and Junia Hazel, on July 19.


Rev. John Worzala-Dumke, M.Div '11 and Kirsten Worzala-Dumke, M.Div '12 are excited to announce the birth of their daughter, Berkeley JoLee, born on May 4, 2013.


Rev. Wal Reat, TEEM '12 was ordained on March 24, 2013 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Faribault, MN.


Rev. Luke Lundmark, M.Div '06 and his wife have announced the birth of a daughter, Hanna Elizabeth on March 29, 2013.


Class of 2013 Updates


Erin Dunlavy and Eric Johnson, MTS '12 welcomed a baby girl, Zoe Dunlavy Johnson, on March 25th.


John Kuehner will be ordained on June 9, 2013 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in San Carlos, CA.  He was been called to serve as Pastor at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church in South San Francisco.


Stacey Siebrasse has been called to serve as Pastor at St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church in San Francisco, CA. She will be ordained July 7th in Bonner, MT, and will be installed at St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church on July 13th.


Sara Wilson will serve as Associate Director of Seminary Relations at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, beginning June 1st.

Ministry and the Gospel is Public!

Several classmates from Alicia Vargas' Public Ministry course spent time in Southwest Detroit with fellow graduates Meghan Sobocienski and Pastor John Cummings to link their studies with field experience, an approach core to the PLTS seminary curriculum.  With John and Meghan's gracious invitation Nathan Allen, John Kuehner and Stacey Siebrasse visited them and experienced their work with Grace in Action, a mission development faith community in the ELCA. 


With the declining automotive industry and housing market, many parts of Detroit are experiencing difficult times.  With a waning of infrastructure and resources, many communities are looking to gather together and see the church as an important partner.


But why a community sees the church as a partner has a lot to do with how Meghan and John engage with their community.  It's not about drawing people into a church, but reaching out into the community. It starts with listening to people and empowering them to be leaders in their neighborhoods.


 Read more about Public Ministry!  

In Memoriam: Barbara Stuhr

Barbara, or Bobbie as she was known to her friends, died on April 22 and was the beloved wife of Walter Stuhr, PLTS Emeritus Professor and President from 1978 to 1987.  She was a brave spirit suffering with serious health problems for several years and was in hospice care for the last few weeks.  The prayers of this community rise up with thanks for her life and begging God's care and comfort for Walter and their daughters and families.   The service for Barbara Stuhr was held on April 27, 2013 at Grace Lutheran Church in Richmond. 


Barbara was born to Leonard and Frances Gordon in Los Angeles.  She was the eldest of five children: Patricia Gordon, Jessie Mitchell, Jennifer Freedman and Charles Gordon.  She graduated from Alhambra High School in Alhambra and attended UC Santa Barbara.  In 1953, she married Walter Stuhr, and the two would have celebrated their sixtieth anniversary this June.


Read more about the life of Barbara Stuhr

Reflections about Arthur L. Hewitt

Above the Fog arrived in my e-mail the other day.  As I read the various articles, I came upon "Remembering Arthur L. Hewitt."  "Who is he and why is he being featured?," I wondered to myself.  Interest built as I learned he was an Oregonian. Some things began to stir my memory: He grew up in Willamina, where he married Myrna L. Grosser June 10, 1955!  "Now I remember! Art and Myrna were the first couple I married less than two weeks after ordination." Myrna was 17 and Art 23; I was only 24.  They had a beautiful wedding in the sanctuary of Emmanuel Lutheran Church at Willamina.  I hastened to get out My Pastoral Record volume to refresh the old memory of events almost 58 years earlier.  How much I had forgotten!  There were baptisms of Myrna and their two eldest children: Douglas and David; a sad funeral for her much older brother who died in a traffic accident, followed by Myrna taking an adult confirmation class at the age of 19, to name just a few of the entries I read.


The Art I knew was a friendly but rather rough logger, who showed no particular interest in church.  I was overjoyed as I read the PLTS article that Art was an active member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Brookings for more than 4 decades.  I had no idea he could sing, let alone have a beautiful tenor voice that sang in the church choir and performed solos at special services and events.  As seasoned pastors know, it is a special joy to learn about the spiritual growth of former parishioners and of lives lived in the service of Jesus, the Christ. 


Praise God!


- Howard Baumgart, M.Div '55

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