In This Issue
Alum Reunions: '03 and '63
Rememberging our Former PLTS Librarian
Thanks to Our Savior's Lutheran Church!
TEEM Alumni to be Married!
In Memoriam: Erick Egertson, M.Div '63
Alum Speak: Rev. Holly Johnson, M.Div '12
Intern Spotlight: Cary Bass-Deschenes, M.Div '14
In Memoriam: William Alfred Dost
Kyle Schiefelbein, A Man with Many PLTS Hats
Staff Change in the Business Office
Alum Updates
Study at PLTS Online!
Connect with PLTS!
Donate Today!
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

July 2013

It is with great joy that I write to you for the first time in my new position at PLTS.  Thanks for the warm welcome notes and prayers I have received!  I am very excited to meet and get to know you.  Together, we can let PLTS and theological education grow and evolve to meet the ever changing needs of our church and world.  My call to be here is to support a community that loves God and needs a place to gather - as students and alumni, as friends and investors of theological education, and most importantly, as a place for the spreading of God's grace in the world. 


It takes a village to support our beloved seminary.  Thanks to your generosity, PLTS raised about $725,000 for its annual fund in our year that ended on June 30th.  Please accept our deepest gratitude for your support and contributions.  Every single dollar and prayer truly matters.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Our newsletter this month is full of inspiring news and stories -from photos of some very dedicated volunteers to a very sweet story of two TEEM students who just announced their engagement.  May God be with you always, and until next month...


Sara L. Wilson, M.Div '13

Associate Director of Seminary Relations

Alum Reunions of '03 and '63

The Class of 2003 gathered on Sunday June 23rd to celebrate their ten year anniversary of graduation from PLTS. Those who attended were: Peggy Yingst, Christian Jennert, Diane McGeoch, Heidi Hester, Scott Guemmer, and Elizabeth Larsen.  The class and guests first gathered in Sawyer with their "Wall of Fame" class photo for an informal roll call story-sharing time. The fun and reminiscing continued over dinner at Pyramid










Photo: Class of 2003 reunion


Rudy (Marge) Johnson, David Bowman, and Jerry (Vicki) Conrad from the Class of 1963 came to campus on Friday June 28 for dinner in Sawyer to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  Harriet, wife of recently deceased alum Erick Egertson, joined the group for a few minutes by telephone.  Others who are no longer able to travel sent greetings. 


Congratulations, alumni, on your anniversaries!

In Memoriam: Rev. Kenneth Peterson

PLTS has just learned of the death of the Rev. Kenneth G. Peterson of Charlotte, North Carolina, who served as librarian for PLTS from 1962 to 1967.


Rev. Peterson was raised in Brooklyn, New York.  He earned a B.A. in History from Drew University in 1946 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University in 1949.  He was married to Betsy Shumaker at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and they were married for 55 years and had five children and seven grandchildren.


Rev. Peterson ministered at Burton Congregational Church in Ohio (1949-55), the Community Congregational Church of Chico, California (1955-59), and the United Church of Christ in Petaluma, California (1959-62).  He led each church through a major building program and an expansion of membership.


In 1962 he decided to pursue a career in librarianship. He earned M.A. (1963) and Ph.D. (1968) degrees in Library Science from the University of California at Berkeley while working as a librarian at PLTS.  He subsequently served as Associate University Librarian at the University of Virginia (1968-76) and Dean of Library Affairs at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (1976-91).  Again, both institutions experienced significant expansion during his term of service.  Ken authored many publications, including a history of The University of California Library at Berkeley 1900-1945 (1970) and held numerous offices in a variety of professional associations.


Family members recall a man who was affectionate, generous, patient, faithful and fun-loving.  He organized wonderful family activities, was always willing to read a story or take a walk, and never skipped dessert!  Besides travel, Rev. Peterson enjoyed reading history and religion, played the piano and especially admired Brahms.  In retirement he wrote a family memoir, As Dad Remembers (1995).  He died on February 26, 2013.


We are grateful for the role that Rev. Peterson played in the life of this seminary, and pray for his surviving children, David, Matthew, John and Ruth.

Thanks to Our Savior's Lutheran Church!

PLTS extends many thanks to Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Lafayette, CA! The team of 8 spent nearly 70 hours painting the chapel and Sawyer Hall the week of June 3rd through the 7th. Dick Anderson, Linda Baumhefner, Lee Irwin, Russ Rackow, Rich Schwerin, Mary Lou Till, Holly McHale-Larsen and Milo Yoshino generously assisted our maintenance staff in this large project. Here they are painting Sawyer Hall and painting the chapel.

TEEM Alumni to be Married!

Pastors Phil Kettering, TEEM '09 and Janet Colby, TEEM '08,

are excited to announce their engagement. Phil is currently serving Epiphany Lutheran Church in Valdez, Alaska and Janet

continues to serve Our Saviour's Lutheran in Canby, Minnesota, having recently been issued a new letter of call as the Senior Pastor. The PLTS alums met early on in their TEEM experience during their intensive study weeks on campus about six years ago. They looked forward to and enjoyed their TEEM weeks in Berkeley for the next couple of years.  


In the winter of 2008, with ongoing encouragement from his friend and roommate, Dale Hamre, Phil finally asked Janet out on a date. Janet was moved when Phil reached across the table, took her hand as they began their meal, and asked if he could pray. And he did. He thanked God for their food. He thanked God for their new relationship and asked Him to bless and nourish it so that it might become all that He dreamed it to

be. Believing that their relationship was something special, the couple attempted on several occasions to have their second "real date", but when life and their ministry calls intervened and they couldn't make it happen, they resorted to maintaining their connection over the phone through what Janet calls "dates over a glass of wine." 


At times, months would go by without contact, but another call would be made and they would just pick up where they left off. Life has kept them geographically apart all these years as they've lived into their ministry calls while continuing to help their children through college and weddings, journeying through end-of-life with loved ones, and supporting aging parents. 

In Memoriam: Rev. Erick Egertson, M.Div '63

A long illness ended the life of Erick R. Egertson on June 9, 2013, age 75, near his home in Temecula, Calif.


He is survived by Harriet Frederick Egertson, his wife of just short of 53 years, his brother Randall Egertson, five beloved nephews, and members of his wife's family and that of his brother. He was also one of 14 (11 now surviving) much beloved cousins of a large family of Norwegian immigrants.


Erick was born on October 20, 1937 in Slayton, Minn., and moved with his family to California when he was in middle childhood. His parents, Leone C. and Oswald L. Egertson, were educators and Erick also chose education as a career. He graduated from high school in Fullerton and received his bachelor of arts in philosophy in 1959 from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He and Harriet were also married in Tucson in 1960. He then attended and graduated from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., in 1963. He was ordained in 1965 and served for three years as Assistant Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Oakland.


Read more about Erick's life hereĽ  

Alum Speak: Rev. Holly Johnson, M.Div '12

Last month in Above the Fog, we shared a bit about Project F-M in Fargo/Moorhead.  The Project's director is our own alum, Rev. Holly Johnson. She accepted the call to this position last fall out of a desire to find new ways to be church in a changing time.  Johnson shares that "our goal is to make space for people in their 20's and 30's to love God and love their neighbor by cultivating an open-minded and curious faith." They do this by paying attention to what might 'make space' for people to explore faith. They include events like Theology Pub, where people gather around a theological question in a bar, "WTF" (Where's The Faith" book Club, and a worship service once a month called "Sounds Sacred (to me)" that explores poetry and music around a sacred theme, and includes a time of "open space" that often includes communion. Michael Larson, MTS '11 leads the music. All of these events happen in various downtown Fargo locations.


Rev. Johnson's official title is "Mission Developer/Director of Project F-M," but Holly shares that "the Project F-M is different from other mission starts.  The community began with conversations about religion and faith and is expanding into a place that includes worship even as they explore, individually, who God is and what spirituality and religion mean to them. My job is to pay attention to what might make space for that to happen. God works in a lot of different ways and I think we've found some unique ways of being church. It won't be for everyone, but it seems to be working here. I am excited to be leading the Project F-M and exploring what God is up to in this time and place." 


You can learn more about Project F-M and Pastor Holly's ministry here.

Intern Spotlight: Cary Bass-Deschenes, M.Div '14

Cary grew up in South Carolina and is finishing his internship at Christ Church Lutheran in San Francisco. As a teenager in the 80s, living in the South, he began to develop a passion for social justice and his voice for advocating for "the least of us." Cary's pastor was instrumental in seeding his call to ministry. "He was a great worship leader and at some point I began to imagine myself up there leading worship too. At this time, I did not yet know how social justice and ministry could go hand in hand. I was also just accepting my identity as a gay man and I didn't think the church would accept me so I let the idea of being a minister vanish."


The dream didn't vanish forever.


Nearly 25 years later, Cary got involved at St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco.  After this time away from organized religion, the Holy Spirit "propelled me toward justice-centered activities - advocating for LGBT rights, the environment, and against violence.  As I entered my 40s, my need for spiritual fulfillment compelled me back to the church.  It was incredible to be a part of our church when the incredible moment of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide decision came in favor of the ordination of LGBT pastors.  This expanded my understanding of Christian ministry and rekindled my passion and enthusiasm for following God's call to serving in the church." 


Cary is indeed following his call and will return to campus this fall to complete his coursework in preparation for graduation next May and approval for ordination.  He shares that "the journey has not been free of bumps, and at times has led me into deep discernment as to exactly what it was that I am being called to do.  My growth through these difficult times, however, has affirmed that I am where God wants me to be in the present moment."


While on internship at Christ Church Lutheran, Cary has been challenged to grow in more new ways.  He's learned about small parish ministry in a big city, preaching, as well as had lots of hands on experience in leading liturgy, and been stretched to help nurture a congregation in what it means to be engaged with its greater community.  "Ultimately, as I conclude my internship and begin my final year at PLTS, I have come to understand that everything in my life has brought me to today - my passion, narrative, gifts -and in no small part, my character defects, have all affirmed this sometimes scary and always impossible to resist call of God."

In Memoriam: William Alfred Dost
September 4, 1930 to May 26, 2013

The seminary lost a good neighbor in May.  Bill Dost lived with his wife Janice on Creston Road.


During his career, Bill was a Co-op Extension Specialist for the UC Forest Products Laboratory, where he provided education and research support to the wood products industry.  He produced over 90 research papers prompting improvements in wood processing and worker safety, and co-authored a book with Professor Elmer Botsai of the University of Hawaii, entitled Wood: Detailing for Performance.


Bill also served, during a two-year leave from UCB, as President of the American Wood Preservers Bureau in Washington, DC, where he was able to influence the standards set for wood preservation used in construction.  After retirement, Bill practiced as an independent forensic wood technologist, providing investigation and expert testimony concerning wood failure in construction and personal injury litigation.


It was not uncommon to see Bill on the PLTS campus.  He discovered a loquat tree on our campus, from which he harvested the fruit and made jam.


PLTS and President Phyllis Anderson were happy to host the celebration of Bill's life in the Great Hall on June 26th.

Kyle Schiefelbein, a Man with Many PLTS Hats

We would like to introduce Kyle Schiefelbein as our Coordinator of Online Education, a position he began back in February.  He is overseeing the pedagogical and technical components of our Flexible Life M.Div. option, where students can take their first year of classes online.  Some of you may be saying, "Wait, Kyle isn't really new here.  I've seen him on campus the last couple of years."  You would be right.  Kyle first stepped foot on the PLTS campus in the fall of 2007 as an affiliated doctoral student from the GTU.  He also served as the Online Learning Coordinator of the GTU for 4.5 years before taking his current position at PLTS.


Read more about Kyle hereĽ  


Access some of Kyle's writings.

Staff Change in the Business Office

A couple of weeks ago, Gita Chitrakar, left PLTS to take a new position at University of California-Berkeley. We want to thank Gita and wish her well on her new endeavor. PLTS is excited to welcome back, Aaron Greig, as bookkeeper! He is a familiar face to many as he once was a student on campus and worked after that until a battle with leukemia two years ago forced him to take time off. Today, he is well again and we rejoice for his return. Thanks be to God!

Alum Updates

Tuhina Rasche (M.Div '13): Tuhina was ordained and installed as the Associate Pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Oakland, CA on June 29, 2013.

Photo: Tuhina Rasche's ordination, St. Paul's Lutheran Church 


Casey Tinnin (MTS '11): Casey was installed as the Youth Director at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Auburn, CA on June 30, 2013.


Mark Dunbar (M.Div '83): Mark is now pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Elko, Nevada.


David Bentz (M.Div '13): David was ordained Sunday, June 23rd, and then installed as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Elk Point, SD.

Sara Pearson (M.Div '11), and Nathan Winterhof (M.Div. '09): Sara and Nate welcomed a baby boy, Gabriel Marr Pearson-Winterhof on April 17th.


Tamara Bull (TEEM): Tamara was ordained on June 30th at First English Lutheran Church in Great Falls, MT.


Susan Lindberg (M.Div '79), and Paul Isaak (M.Div. '78): While on vacation in southern Africa, Richard and Rev. Susan Lindberg met Rev. Dr. Paul Isaak once again in Windhoek, Namibia. They first met 35+ years ago when both were students at PLTS.


Steve Alsleben (M.Div '92): Steve is serving as an Ethics Instructor at the Army Aviation School in Fort Rucker, Alabama, and Chaplain for the 110th Aviation Brigade. He is also helping out at Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church in Dothan, Alabama as they are currently without a pastor.


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