In This Issue
Founders' Day: Wednesday, September 18,2013
Worship and Celebration Invitation!
The Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund
New faculty: Dr. Bradley Burroughs
Alum Speak: Rev. Jeremy Fuerst, M.Div '10
Student Spotlight: Rachel Eskesen, M.Div '14
Highlights from the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh
Become an Advocate for Theological Education!
Alum Updates
Study at PLTS Online!
Connect with PLTS!
Donate Today!
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

September 2013


It is great to have these classrooms and pathways, the chapel and student apartments brimming with life as the fall semester begins.  We gladly welcomed and oriented twenty-two new residential and online students.  What amazing stories they bring about the faith that brought them here, the life experiences that have shaped them, their dreams for the church they hope to serve.  It is also a thrill to welcome back the returning interns, who have grown so powerfully in their pastoral presence and competence.  Another twenty newcomers to the TEEM program from across the country will be here for their first intensive class in October!  


Things are off to a running start this week with Pastor Jim Lobdell of the New City Parish in LA preaching in chapel, out of the African American experience of his congregation.  Founders Day, September 18, will feature CLU Professor Colleen Windham-Hughes as lecturer and preacher on the theme: Mash-up Mission: Faithfulness across Generations.  This is just one of the many ways we will be living into and celebrating our upcoming merger with California Lutheran University.  On the 27th we will host an all-day multicultural training led by Visions, Inc.  These are just three of hundreds of opportunities these new students - and the whole PLTS community - will have this year to stretch, grow and cross the boundaries of generations and cultures and race and class and traditions so that they will minister better in a diverse world.


Photo: The incoming class with President Anderson on orientation day!


I welcome this new class, keenly aware that it is the last time for me.  As I anticipate retirement at the end of December, I identify with those who will graduate and leave this year. With them, I am full of curiosity about the future, privileged to share life with this gifted, faithful community, and determined to savor to the fullest each moment in this vibrant, holy place.



President Phyllis Anderson

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.

Worship and Celebration Invitation!

You are cordially invited to:


A Worship and Celebration of the ministry and retirement of President Phyllis Anderson




The merger of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and California Lutheran University


Saturday November 2, 2013


PLTS Chapel of the Cross

2770 Marin Avenue, Berkeley, California 94708

10:30 a.m.

Informal lunch to follow on the Chapel Patio


All are welcome to attend this special event! 

Our guest preacher is ELCA Secretary, Rev. Chris Boerger.


The Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund through the ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission

President Phyllis Anderson has dedicated thirty-six years to professional ministry within the Lutheran church.  She earned her bachelor's degree at Sacramento State University and received her Master of Divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in 1977.


Dr. Anderson completed her Ph.D in Systematic Theology at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis.  She served as a parish pastor from 1979 to 1983 before being called as Assistant to the Bishop of the Iowa District.  In 1985, she became Director of Pastoral Studies and Instructor in Theology.


From 1988 to 1998, Dr. Anderson worked as the Director for Theological Education of the Division for Ministry, and from 1989 to 1995, she was the Director of the ELCA Study of Theological Education for Ministry. Starting in 1995, Dr. Anderson served at Seattle University as the Director of the Institute for Ecumenical Theological Studies and later as the Associate Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry.  In 2004, she became the first female President of an ELCA seminary. 


Over the past nine years, President Anderson has worked passionately and tirelessly to guide PLTS in living out its mission to train church leaders in a multi-cultural setting and to build a sustainable future through expanded partnerships, with the Graduate Theological Union and especially now with California Lutheran University.  We give thanks for the ministry of President Anderson and wish her and husband, Herbert, well on their retirement in Sonoma, California.  Her last day at PLTS will be December 31, 2013.


It is the wish of Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson that future leaders of our church continue to receive quality theological education and that scholarship opportunities continue to grow.  The Fund for Leaders in Mission is a project of the ELCA which provides tuition assistance for seminarians. You are invited to honor President Anderson's ministry with a gift to this named scholarship fund.  The first $12,500 in gifts will be generously matched by the PLTS Board of Directors.  To make a contribution, please mail a check to PLTS with "President Anderson Scholarship Fund" noted on the memo line. Questions may be directed to Rev. Brian Stein-Webber, Director of Seminary Relations at (510) 559-2711.

New faculty: Dr. Bradley Burroughs, Assistant Professor of Ethics

Dr. Burroughs received his Master of Divinity from Duke University and his Ph.D from Emory.  His call to ministry began in college.  "I was planning on working for the FBI or law enforcement of some kind so I took a course on religious terrorism.  Then I took a course on Kierkegaard as part of my religious studies major and that just messed my life up because I found a new idea about what Christianity is all about.  I took more courses and eventually decided that maybe seminary would be better than a Ph.D in political science.  What I really wanted to do was help change the conditions in which people live in for the better."


The first in his family to graduate from college, it was a big surprise to everyone that he wanted to keep going to school!  Keep going he did, but only after a one year break between college and seminary.  It was during this break that his call to ministry was really tested when his Methodist Bishop's office asked, "Would you be interested in taking a church?"  So he preached, led worship, and found affirmation in his love of research and teaching. 


He wrote his dissertation on Christianity and politics and notes that this work was inspired by his time in the parish, both before seminary and during field education while working on his M.Div degree.  He sought to explore the question: "How should we think about political matters as Christians in a world afflicted by evil?"  In the near future, he is excited to write a second edition, with added chapters, for laity.  He has published an article with the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics titled "Reconceiving Politics: Soulcraft, Statecraft, and the City of God."


Dr. Burroughs, his wife, and young son are excited to be in Berkeley and to participate in the Graduate Theological Union.  PLTS and Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), our Episcopalian partner, are sharing this ethics professorship along with that of Dr. Steed Davidson, Associate Professor Old Testament.  Excited about the new partnership between PLTS and CDSP but also a bit nervous about his first full-time faculty appointment, Brad says, "I am going to try to not screw this up!  I'm so happy to be here and thankful for the opportunity to train Pastors and Priests while equipping them to address societal issues in congregations and parishes."  He cites Luke 4:16ff and Jeremiah 29:7 as a couple of his favorite Bible texts. 

Alum Speak: Rev. Jeremy Fuerst, M.Div '10

A native of Nebraska, Rev. Fuerst is Associate Pastor at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church in Omaha and spends his free time swimming, biking, and running...a lot!  On September 8th, Jeremy participated in Ironman Wisconsin, a race which begins in downtown Madison with a 2.4 mile swim in Lake Monona at 7 a.m.  Following 2 hours in the water, Fuerst hopped on his bike and rode 112 miles through rolling hills of the Wisconsin country side.  To finish the race, he ran a 26.2 mile marathon that ends after two loops along the lake, through the UW-Madison campus and Camp Randall Football Stadium near the State Capitol.


Jeremy's journey to finish an Ironman began over ten years ago.  In 2002, he was moving from Utah back to Nebraska and met his first mentor as he dropped off the U-Haul.  Jeremy recalls: "I was bummed there would be no more mountain biking.  The guy who checked in my truck was wearing an Ironman shirt.  The more I asked him, the more interested I got.  He later sold me a cheap steel frame bike for $50 and I did my first triathlon a few months later.  I was the dead last person to finish.  He and two other friends/mentors from the Triathlon Nebraska Team were the only people left to cheer me on to the finish in the freezing rain."  He kept training and finished his first 70.3 (half-Ironman) in 2005.  "Once I did that, I started hoping to attempt the 140.6 someday."


In seminary, Jeremy was active.  He often snuck out of the dorm for bike rides between classes and studying.  Once or twice a year he made time to ski in Lake Tahoe.  Unbeknownst to most of his friends at the time, he was a member of the University of California - Berkeley triathlon team.  It was during his time on the team that he met his current coach and mentor, John Dahlz.  "I looked up to him when I was in Cal Tri and he was winning races; I still do.  He would deny it, but truly, he helped me get to where I am today and I'm grateful."   


It was during his first call that Jeremy decided it was time to live the Ironman dream.  A month after his ordination, he remembers; "I looked at my ordination pictures and saw a pale, fat smoker...and I didn't like what I saw."  So he quit smoking and started training hard again.  Last year, he attempted Ironman Louisville and missed the time cutoff at the halfway checkpoint of the marathon.  Determined to not give up, he almost immediately signed up to race again.


This year's Ironman Wisconsin was all about finishing unfinished business.  And Fuerst got the members of St. Timothy's Lutheran Church involved too.  He invited them to participate and make a difference with a challenge to collectively raise $10 per mile of the 140.6 miles he would be covering in the Ironman.  Pastor Jeremy says, "And they rose to the occasion.  We raised $700 each for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and our youth missions program."  With time to spare and encouragement from friends and family, he crossed the finish line.  "My legs didn't want to cooperate, but I had to finish.  It meant a lot to have some of my friends and family out on the course including fellow PLTS alumni, Eric Luedtke and Eric & Erika Jones.  Those last two miles felt impossible until I saw them."


Congratulations Rev. Ironman Jeremy Fuerst!  

Student Spotlight: Rachel Eskesen, M.Div '14

Rachel grew up in Auburn, Washington and is a member of Messiah Lutheran Church.  "I want to say thank you. I'm so grateful for the support of the people of Messiah. They've been there for me throughout this seminary adventure."  A 2004 grad of California Lutheran University with a degree in literature, she spent her first year out of college in the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program, serving in Cairo, Egypt.  After that she was a para-educator in ESL courses at Olympic Middle School in Auburn. Following that, she coordinated an after school program where she helped create an interactive math program. Rachel received a Masters in Literature from the University of Leeds in northern England and worked with at-risk youth in Chester, England.  Practically her second home, she visits England when she can and jokes, "It seems my poor classmates have had to put up with me readjusting to American culture at the start of each semester of seminary."  And the adventures continue!


Rachel recently returned from internship in Slovakia.  She was selected for an ELCA Horizon International Internship. The ELCA Horizon Internship program provides funding for international and domestic experiences that would not otherwise be possible for congregations or students. Rachel's internship was part time as pastoral intern at Bratislavia International Church and part time as co-chaplain and teacher of religion at a Lutheran High School, the Evanjelicke Lyceum in Bratislava. Working under the mentorship of the Rev. Miriam Schmidt, she experienced life as an Intern Pastor in a congregation with members from over a dozen countries and a variety of cultural and language backgrounds. The Bratislava International Church was started shortly after the ELCA Global Teach in Central Europe began; the purpose was to offer volunteers in the program a place to worship both in the Lutheran tradition and in English. The congregation is ever growing and changing and Rachel enjoyed welcoming newcomers and longtime members each week. "Five years and you were considered a long time member.  Ten years or more was rare."  A few highlights from her year included: leading a women's group over coffee and cake; leading Bible studies; singing in the church choir; and leading Wednesday chapel as a chaplain at the school.


This year Rachel is looking forward to her last year of seminary, enjoying the Bay Area, and being reunited not only with the seminary community but also with her beloved bicycle.  She feels confident in her vocational call as a pastor and is excited to see where the Holy Spirit calls her to serve.  Gifted in preaching with a special place in her heart for the un-churched, she is looking forward to uniting ritual and tradition of the Lutheran faith with the realities of our contemporary world. 

Highlights from the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

The 13th Assembly of the ELCA was an historical milestone in the life of the Church.  President Phyllis Anderson, Dr. Moses Penumaka, Director of TEEM, and Student Tony Rhodes attended the assembly and wish to share some reflections below.  We are also excited that Rev. Tita Valeriano, M.Div '98 presided at Friday's worship service.  Her story written by Brenda Bos, CATS '13 can be found here.


"While it might sound cliché, I am going to say it anyway.  The Churchwide Assembly is unlike any other experience you will ever encounter in the church.  This was my second assembly and while similar in some ways, it was very different in others.  The biggest difference between this assembly and the previous one in 2011 were the elections of a new Presiding Bishop and Secretary.  I went into the assembly very excited about participating in this election, but was not at all aware of how emotional and hard it would be.  It was exciting because the elections presented a clear way for us to live out our theme of "Always Being Made New" and it was hard because change always accompanies newness.  It takes great faith to rise to the challenge of trusting the Holy Spirit and letting things unfold and working boldly in new ways.  I left Pittsburgh and returned to Berkeley instilled with energy, excitement, and dedication for our community of faith, the ELCA.  I am so very excited to see how we continue to be made new in the years to come!" - Tony Rhodes, M.Div '14


"One of the gifts of actually being here is to experience the calmness, peace, care and grace that has infused this whole process.  The friendship among these leaders of the church was evident at every turn. The hope of all for the new thing God is calling this church to be is palpable as we sit here together on these folding chairs. What a privilege it was to be with the church assembled here in Pittsburgh as we made the momentous decision to elect Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of Northeast Ohio to be the Presiding Bishop of the whole ELCA.  I never expected to see a woman in this role, leading our church, in my lifetime. Now it is a reality. Bishop Eaton is going to be just great." - President Anderson


"As a fourth generation Lutheran nurtured in India, witnessing the election of the presiding bishop was such a joyful moment for me.  One of the highlights of the Assembly was that the ELCA demonstrated its commitment to continue to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and find possibilities to improve the Palestinian economic situation and promote peace between the two parties.  Another significant consideration was the statement on criminal justice.   This statement, while acknowledging the positive parts of the criminal justice system, expresses dissatisfaction with some parts of the system that require reform, particularly, the parts that are related to the people of color.  I believe that the ELCA has been learning to recognize the leadership from the margins, learning to acknowledge the traditional leadership with a critique and sincere gratitude and move forward into the future in a new direction.  It is so powerful and inspiring to witness the role of young voting members at the assembly to bring radical change in thinking, acting, and moving forward as a church.  This assembly proved that the ELCA is not only a confessing, proclaiming, witnessing church but also a teaching church witnessing to the gospel and learning to practice the theology of the cross." - Dr. Moses Penumaka

Become an Advocate for Theological Education!

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Have a passion for our church and seminary education?

Would you like to make a difference for church leaders?


Thanks to a generous grant from the ELCA's Stewards of Abundance program, PLTS is excited to invite selected laypersons to Berkeley on February 24-26, 2014 to learn more about building a sustainable future for theological education and growing financial resources that will help ELCA seminaries continue to provide quality educational programs while building a sustainable future.  We are looking for 12-15 lay members in Regions 1 and 2 who want to make a difference and can dedicate three days in Berkeley (all expenses paid) as well as commit to making presentations about the need for funding theological education in the participant's home congregation and three selected congregations in the same synod following the February event.  For more information and to inquire about participation, contact Sara Wilson, Associate Director of Seminary Relations at (510) 559-2717.

Alum Updates

Pam Schaefer, M.Div '12: Pam was ordained on August 24, 2013 at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oakland, CA.  She has been called to serve Cross and Crown Lutheran Church and School in Rohnert Park, CA.

Photo: Pam Schaefer's Ordination


Terry Schjang, M.Div '12: Terry was ordained on August 25, 2013 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Boulder, CO.  She has been called to serve New Beginnings in Denver, CO.


Peggy Harvey-Marose, M.Div '88: Peggy received her Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Mission and Leadership from Luther Seminary in May 2013. Her thesis title is: Send Down the Fire: the Reframing of Missional Identity during Recovery from a Fire.


Donna and R. Don Wright (both M.Div '92): Don and Donna have lived in southeastern PA for 5 years now. Don's call is to Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Philadelphia, while Donna serves as an intentional interim pastor, currently at a congregation 2 miles from their home. They are both active on Facebook.


Joelle Colville Hanson, M.Div '85: Joelle is the new Director of Evangelical Mission in the Northeastern Iowa Synod.


Norm Arnold, M.Div '13: Norm will be ordained on October 20 at Gull Harbor Lutheran Church in Olympia, Washington. He has been called to serve the Living Stones Prison Congregation at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.


Charles Riggs, M.Div '74: Charles has retired from serving St. John's Lutheran Church in Palm Desert, California.

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