In This Issue
Founders' Day: Wednesday, September 18,2013
New Director of Contextual Education: Rev. Dr. Leslie Veen
Merger Update from President Phyllis Anderson
Thank You to St. Luke's Portland!
4th Annual Week of Renewal - A Resounding Success!
Intern Spotlight: Amanda Nelson, M.Div '14
Student Spotlight: Niveen Sarras, M.Div '15
Alum Speak: Rev. Ellen Ayres, M.Div '11
In Memoriam: Dr. Reid and Jean Binder
In Memoriam: Rev. Vivian Martin, M.Div '97
New Book: Abundant Harvest, Stories of Asian Lutherans
Award Recipients!
Summer Greek!
Alum Updates
Study at PLTS Online!
Connect with PLTS!
Donate Today!
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

August 2013

It's almost back to school time!  Students are beginning to trickle back from internship, CPE, and other summer adventures.  Those taking summer Greek are almost finished.  We are pleased to welcome Rev. Dr. Leslie Veen as the new Director of Contextual Education.  

Our annual Founders' Day celebration is coming up on September 18th.  Be sure to check out the details below!  


There are a lot of alum updates, exciting stories, and more.  I hope you have a moment to relax, read, and share in the joy of the Holy Spirit at work in alumni and friends of PLTS!


God's Peace,


Sara L. Wilson, M.Div '13

Associate Director of Seminary Relations 

Founders' Day: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Get Ready! This fall's Founders' Day will take place on September 18 with the Rev. Dr. Colleen Windham-Hughes, a faculty member at California Lutheran University, being the keynote speaker.  She is the Assistant Professor of Religion and Director of the program in Theology and Christian Leadership at CLU.  In and out of the classroom, she investigates connections among life experience, culture, and theology, often focusing on relationships between technology and spirituality. 

You may find some of her work for the church here


Her lecture is titled "Mash-up Mission: faithfulness across generations."


Rev. Dr. Windham-Hughes explains:

"Being church sends us to connect in creative ways with our neighbors and each other.  We find our way to faithfulness by putting together our emerging experience with wisdom from the ages, mashing up lyrics, rhythms, practices, and melodies that reach up, out, and in, directing human energies toward God in praise and the world in service."


Her sermon is titled "Beautiful Feet" and will refer to Isaiah 52:7 and Luke 10:1-11.


In addition to the lecture and sermon by Rev. Dr. Windham-Hughes, PLTS is proud to announce that the two recipients of alum awards for 2013 have been chosen.


Receiving the alum award for Distinguished Service as a Parish Pastor will be the Rev. P. Kempton Segerhammar.  He has just retired from serving First Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, California.  Rev. Segerhammar is a graduate of California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks.  He taught English in the city of Inglewood, California before attending and graduating from PLTS in 1972.  The congregations that he has served also include Epiphany Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado, the United Christian Congregation in Stockholm, Sweden, First Lutheran Church in Glendale, California and Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle, Washington.


Receiving the alum award for Distinguished Service in Special Service will be the Rev. Susan Kintner.   Pastor Kintner is presently the Assistant to the Bishop of the Oregon Synod.  She is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, and of PLTS in 1980.  She has served the congregations of Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, California, St. Luke Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon and St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon.She served as a chaplain for Presbyterian Hospital in San Francisco, California and a counselor for Wellspring Counseling Center in Medford, Oregon.


You may register for Founders' Day by going here.


Questions regarding this event may be directed to President Phyllis Anderson or Executive Assistant, Gretchen McDonald.

New Director of Contextual Education: Rev. Dr. Leslie Veen

We are delighted to welcome the Rev. Dr. Veen, who began in her new position on August 1!  She grew up in Michigan, completed her B.A. at Calvin College, and moved to California 21 years ago to study Spanish literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  In 2005 she received her Master of Divinity degree and graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary with her Doctor of Ministry in spirituality on May 25th.  Her dissertation was titled "Practicing Perichoresis: Expanding the models of spiritual practices for ministers-in-training".  This publication along with sermons and other tidbits about Leslie can be found on her website.  She is an ordained Presbyterian minister and serves Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco which has grown from a new start to a charter church during her time with them. 


Prior to seminary, Leslie taught Spanish to elementary and middle school students for ten years.  She loves teaching, mentoring, and traveling.  She has studied in Spain and been to Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Central America, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico.  Her most recent trip was last fall to Italy when she took a couple of weeks to let her dissertation "sit" while under faculty review.  She hopes to make it to South America sometime soon.  In her free time, Leslie is an avid runner, having completed eight marathon and numerous half's.  Cycling, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with her cat, Murphy, also bring her great joy. 


Leslie shares: "I am super excited to be here, to continue working in this field, to be a part of  a new experience, and to help students on their journeys through seminary.  My favorite Bible verse is John 10:10 because I really believe God is a God of abundance.  God is an overflowing fountain.  The cup of graces spills over.  I am really looking forward to working together with everyone at PLTS and our congregation partners in field education.  Ecclesiastical and academic unity is a special bond that I believe complement each other really well!"

Merger Update from President Phyllis Anderson

On Tuesday, July 9, 2013, the ELCA Church Council unanimously approved the CLU/PLTS merger documents.  The official certification has come by mail.   Their action allows for the kind of ongoing editing that will continue until CLU takes its vote.  The ELCA put out a press release, which you can read here.  The Church Council approval does not come as a surprise. Documents had already been completely worked over and given preliminary approval by the Constitutional Review Committee of the Church Council. Our ELCA legal counsel, staff, and Office of the Secretary have been very proactive in getting this done for us. This is just one of many steps toward finalizing the merger, but an important one.  We will let you know when there is more news to share!


The Christian Century has also published an article about the merger.  You can find it here.

Thank You to St. Luke's Portland!

Volunteers from St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon come to campus every summer to help out with campus improvement projects.  With the guidance of the PLTS maintenance crew, David Knapp and others from St. Luke's gave Sawyer a facelift. We are very 

grateful for your time and dedication to our seminary on the hill. Thank you for your continued mission and service contributions!

4th Annual Week of Renewal - A Resounding Success!

Thirty-two pastors and lay people gathered on campus June 24-28 and had their thinking expanded by PLTS faculty.  They were nourished by a rich variety of worship experiences, affirmed by conversations about ministry with friends and colleagues new and old, and replenished by a combination of fog, sun, good coffee, and a proper balance of brownies and vegetables. In their words:  "A perfect balance of worship, connecting with people, learning, and help for my parish ministry. In particular, "Reclaiming the 'E' Word" class with Tom Rogers was an experience I wish I could wrap up and give to my colleagues."  (Bill Crabtree)  "The Week of Renewal provided quality continuing education in a beautiful, renewing setting.  It was certainly worth a trip across the country from North Carolina."  (Emily Hartner)  Board Member Jim Carlson and his wife, Rev. Anne Carlson shared that they were delighted to finally have a free week to attend.  "We have wanted to come every year and this was it!  We had a great time in class and enjoyed getting to know the other participants and tasting a few of Berkeley's finest restaurants in our free evenings."  Special thanks to Herbert Anderson for organizing this special and unique experience!


Plan now to attend the Fifth Annual Week of Renewal June 23-27, 2014.  Faculty will include Marty Stortz on "Discipleship in the Key of John," Ted Peters on "Justifying Faith," and a repeat from Tom Rogers on "Reclaiming the 'E' Word." 

Photo: Attendees of the Week of Renewal gather in the President's residence to discuss faith and life.

Intern Spotlight: Amanda Nelson, M.Div '14

Amanda grew up in Attleboro, Massachusetts and is excited to be a part of the PLTS community. 
"I came here for four years to get a new experience.  The fact that PLTS is RIC [Reconciling in Christ] was a big factor and I'm happy to be in a place that is inclusive and welcoming."  Prior to starting her seminary education, she graduated from Wheaton College, Massachusetts and then worked for three years at New Hope, a domestic violence social services organization, as the Development Associate.  "Jobs were hard to come by in 2007 as an international relations and German major.  I continued working part-time at my college and then offered to do some volunteering at New Hope.  I thought I really wanted to be the next Secretary General of the United Nations, but I am glad God put these other opportunities in my path."


Read the rest of Amanda's story hereĽ  

Student Spotlight: Niveen Sarras, M.Div '15

Niveen grew up in Bethlehem, Palestine.  She shares that "it's awesome to have been born in the same town where Jesus was born and it's really great to grow up in the Holy Land; there are stories about Jesus which aren't in the Bible that have been passed through generations.  I have heard these and it makes me really excited to be from there and also to be called to be a Pastor and Professor."  Life in Palestine is far from perfect with the ongoing challenges of war and oppression.  Niveen understands what it is like to grow up in a place where there is great inequality - the relationships between Muslims, Christians, and Jews is complicated.  She emphasizes that "I grew up knowing I would have to work hard.  I am Christian and I am also a woman.  It is just hard with all the racism and religious intolerance everywhere."

Alum Speak: Rev. Ellen Ayres, M.Div '11

August of 2003 - I felt like I had been drowning in unending grief from the loss of so many I cared about.  I had gone to Synod Assembly in Burbank, California that spring and came home with a brochure for the synod's new "Equipping Leaders for Mission" program.  I signed up in August after promising myself I would quit immediately if the first class wasn't worthwhile.  I liked the idea of learning to be more useful in my home congregation in Morro Bay, California, since I expected to remain in my home in Atascadero (a "small" town of 25,000) and in that congregation forever.  The idea of becoming a pastor had never crossed my mind.


It is August, 2013 as I write this.  I was ordained in June of 2011 in Morro Bay and went immediately to my three-point parish of Harlem, Hogeland, and Turner in Montana.  I live in Blaine County, population about 6,000. The city of Harlem, where my parsonage is, has about 800 residents. I no longer think of Atascadero as small.


Read the rest of Rev. Ellen's story hereĽ    

In Memoriam: Dr. Reid and Jean Binder

Dr. Reid and Jean Binder, long-time members of King of Kings Lutheran Church in Oceanside, California, included PLTS among the 33 beneficiaries  of their charitable remainder trust.  Their gift arrived this past month.


Dr. Binder was a native of Orange, New Jersey.  He served during World War II as an aerial navigator on a B-17, which was shot down on its eleventh combat mission.  The crew were captured and held as prisoners of war for seven months.  He later attended the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University School of Medicine, serving internship in Long Beach, California and residency in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Mrs. Binder was a native of Los Angeles.  She graduated from UCLA with a degree in accounting, and worked as a Lutheran Student Worker at the University of North Dakota in Fargo. 


The Binders were married in 1947, and moved to Oceanside a few years later, where Dr. Binder opened up a practice in dermatology.  They were important members in church and community for many decades.  Mrs. Binder served in all leadership positions at King of Kings.  The Binders passed away in 2010 and 2012.  PLTS is grateful for their commitment to theological education in the ELCA and their generous spirits!

In Memoriam: Rev. Vivian Martin, M.Div '97

In Memoriam

The Rev. Vivian Martin

April 25, 1943 to May 25, 2013


The seminary and other communities mourn the passing of the Rev. Vivian Martin, PLTS class of 1997.  Prior to her ordination to Word and Sacrament ministry, Pastor Martin worked as an administrative assistant, librarian and rehabilitation counselor.  As a pastor she served at Messiah in Los Angeles, and was a member of the African-American Lutheran Association of Los Angeles and the African-American Descent Strategy Team of the Southwest California Synod.  She was also a mental health counselor at "The Village" in Long Beach.


Pastor Martin is survived by her four daughters, Michelle, Mona, Rebecca and Grovena, and nine grandchildren.

New Book: Abundant Harvest, Stories of Asian Lutherans

This book comprising 16 essays and 99 biographies/stories of Asian Lutherans worldwide narrates "the people's history" from the perspective of Asians. It is not an attempt to write a history of Asian Lutheran churches or their key leaders this time by Asians. Thus it is the stories that make history. 


Dr. Edmond Yee, Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies, authored six essays and wrote/translated more than a dozen biographies.  In addition to this current publication, Dr. Yee is one of the four editors of and a contributor to a projected three-volume encyclopedia titled Asian American Religious Cultures to be published by ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA.


Abundant Harvest acknowledges the active involvement, struggles, ministries and contributions of dedicated Asian Christians in spreading the good news among Asian peoples. It is unique because its main purpose is to record the stories of indigenous Lutheran leaders, lay and clergy, who had/have made distinguished contributions. This book is also special as it acknowledges the "firsts" who have distinguished themselves by having broken ecclesio-social barriers that have kept them from exercising their authentic selves, capacities and rights in serving the church and society. 

Therefore this is not an attempt to write another "history" of Lutheran churches in Asia seen this time by Asian Lutherans; rather it seeks to narrate "the people's history" from the vantage point of the people. 

This volume is valuable in being the first book of this kind; second, in its illustrative coverage and depiction of Asian Lutherans in Asia as well as in diaspora; third, in helping Asian Lutherans themselves to become better acquainted with the leadership, lay and clergy, past and present, of the various churches in Asia and North America; fourth, in its writing style, intended for both casual readers and professionals interested in Asian Lutherans; and fifth, in its capacity to serve as the foundation for individuals doing research on the subject of Asian Lutherans.


To order Abundant Harvest, Stories of Asian Americans, please visit Lutheran University Press.

Rev. Greg Schaefer, M.Div'02 Receives Award

Congratulations to Rev. Greg Schaefer, M.Div '02, who received the ELCA's Phil N. Knutson Award for Creativity and Risk-taking in Ministry.  Greg helped pull together a concerned group of students and other community members in addressing homelessness in Palo Alto, California, where he serves University Lutheran Church and Episcopal Lutheran Campus Ministry at Stanford University.  As a result of the group's work, a winter shelter for women will begin this fall, called Night Outreach.

Summer Greek!

Almost from its beginning it has been the vocation of PLTS to offer Biblical Greek during the summer for PLTS and GTU students, as well as enthusiasts from afar who enjoyed the pleasures of Berkeley while discovering the wonders of the Greek language. Harry Mumm and then Robert Smith and Everett Kalin cultivated the program over many decades.  Only a few years ago they would have been amazed at the sight of every student sitting in class with a laptop computer exploring the tenses of verbs and the cases of nouns and pronouns with new copies of biblical software - software each purchased at a considerable discount through a program the seminary is launching this fall.  Textbooks and handouts are giving way to digital bits and bytes.  Biblical Greek may be ancient, but it's not archaic. 


Students are in the midst of finishing this summer's six week intensive Greek program.  The first three weeks of grammar and vocabulary are taught by Dr. Gary Pence.  Students finish the course by reading through the Gospel of John with Dr. Ev Kalin.  We are grateful for these two retired professors who return each summer to teach Greek!   

Photo: Greek class in Giesy 1

Alum Updates

Colin Brown, M.Div '13: Colin has started an independent town revitalization program in Woodburn, Oregon titled Project 2014.  His organization is seeking the creation of a science park enticing businesses with fast-track permitting and tax incentives, and allowing lunch trucks to park in the downtown plaza rea.


Michael Wilker, M.Div '94: Michael was pictured in a recent issue of The Christian Century regarding the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act.  He wrote:  "My church is a block from the court. Members and I went every day to await and celebrate the ruling. Lots of press and visitors took my picture that day. Some visitors were intentionally there -- a lesbian couple from Ohio was on a family vacation with their 10 year old daughter. They asked to pray with me. Other visitors from TX and elsewhere just happened upon the gathering and told me they were so happy a priest was there supporting.  I was very proud to be representing Jesus and many leaders and congregations that day."  He also noted that members of his congregation, Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington DC, were in the Gay Men's Chorus that sang that day, and are on the boards of Reconciling works and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM).


Norman Arnold, M.Div '13: Norman has been called to serve Living Stones Congregation at the Washington State Correctional Center in Shelton, Washington.  He will also help connect the 90 congregations of the Southwestern Washington Synod with this important ministry.


Roberta Wall, MCM '13: Roberta has been called as Associate in Ministry to be principal of Our Savior's Lutheran School in San Clemente, California.


Eric Clapp, M.Div '12: Eric has been called to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Camanche, Iowa, right next to the Mississippi River.  He figures the fish fries will be fresh there!


Nels Flesher, CATS '11: Nels was ordained March 10, 2013 at Peace Lutheran Church in Tacoma and now serves Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chinook and Naselle Lutheran Church, both on the coast of Washington State.


Terry Schjang, M.Div '12: Terry has received a call to New Beginnings, a congregation inside the Denver Women's Correctional Facility.  She will be ordained on August 25, 4:00 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Boulder, Colorado.


Scott Lee, M.Div '10: Scott has received a call to serve as chaplain at Delaware Hospice, and also to serve at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Wilmington, Delaware.  He was ordained on June 2, 2013.  One year ago, he married Kelly (Conway) Lee.


Stacey Siebrasse, M.Div '13: Stacey was ordained on Saturday, July 7 at Our Savior's Lutheran in Bonner, MT.  She was installed as Pastor at St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church, San Francisco on July 13th.

Photo: Stacey Siebrasse's installation, St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church.


Tamara Gomez, MCM '10: Tamara is now working as a Spiritual Care Counselor with Hospice of the East Bay in Pleasant Hill, California.


John Caranicas, TEEM '11: John has accepted a new call as Associate Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, North Dakota.


Kirsten Worzala Dumke, M.Div '12: Kirsten is finishing a CPE Residency at St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and will be work part-time there starting this fall, while taking care of children Roman, age 2 years and Berkeley, age 2 months.


Marcos Panahon, Affiliation '11: Marcos was ordained on June 2, 2013 and is now serving as Pastor to the Filipino congregation at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Glendale, California.


Marjorie Hershey, TEEM '11: Marjorie is becoming a Pastor at South Canyon Lutheran Church in Rapid City, SD, in charge of pastoral care coordination and small groups.


Jesse Brown, M.Div '11: Jesse serves Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Newberry, Michigan and as chaplain at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.


Joseph Chu, M.Div '85: Joseph is now Associate Program Director of Lutheran Disaster Response at the ELCA Headquarters in Chicago.


Lisa Smith-Fiegel, M.Div '05: Lisa, a board member, is now the Director for Evangelical Mission in the Alaska Synod.


Christa Compton, M.Div '13: Christa was ordained on Saturday, July 20 at St. David Lutheran Church in West Columbia, SC.  She has been called to serve Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Chatham, NJ.

Photo: Christa Compton's Ordination, St. David Lutheran Church.


Pam Schaefer, M.Div '12: Pam has accepted a call to Cross and Crown Lutheran in Rohnert Park, California. Her ordination will be on Saturday, August 24 at 4 PM at Trinity Lutheran Church in Oakland (carpooling is strongly recommended).  Clergy are invited to vest (red). Her installation will be on Sunday, September 8 at 3 PM at Cross and Crown in Rohnert Park (all are encouraged to participate in the ELCA's 25th Anniversary day by bringing a non-perishable food item to donate to the local food pantry).  Clergy are invited to vest (green).


Rev. Eric, M.Div '10, and Stephanie Luedke, MCM '10: Eric has accepted a new call to serve St. John's Lutheran Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, beginning September 1.  His main foci will be children, youth and families along with social and care ministries.  Eric has been serving Gloria Dei Lutheran in Knoxville, TN for the past three years and is excited about this new adventure that begins on September 1. Stephanie will be leaving the position of Minister of Faith Formation at Messiah, Knoxville, Tennessee, and is seeking approval for becoming an Associate in Ministry in August.


Bruce Hannem, CATS '06: Bruce has accepted a call as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cook MN.


Kelly Ayers Nelson, M.Div '09: Kelly has been called to Christ Lutheran Church in Crawfordsville, Indiana, while her husband Derek teaches at Wabash College there, and serves as the Director of the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Center.


Jeremy McLeod, M.Div '78: Jeremy began writing inclusive language resources for liturgy in the late 1970's while a student at PLTS. A recent project led him to wonder how something as engrained in our ears/hearts as Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" would sound with a lyric that breathes a less triumphal, more gentle spirit. The results are posted on YouTube.

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