In This Issue
Worship and Celebration Invitation!
TEEM conference on campus!
The Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund
Alum Speak: Erin Dunlavy, M.Div '13
Dr. Niveen Sarras Publishes Her First Article in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Founders' Day: Wednesday, September 18,2013
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
IRA Rollover!
Study at PLTS Online!
Connect with PLTS!
Donate Today!
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

October 2013

PLTS is on the brink of one of the most important historical developments in its sixty-plus-year history.  The wheels are definitely moving forward in our planned merger with California Lutheran University.


Votes have been taken by both of our boards.  Decisive votes full of prayer and confidence.


The visiting team from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) was present on both our campuses, and the initial feeling is that they were impressed with the quality of our planning and the assets of our institutions.  Their board will vote on whatever recommendation goes forward in November.


Votes remain to be taken by the CLU faculty and the CLU Convocation (representatives from around Region 2 of the ELCA).  It feels like what happens prior to the final countdown of a rocket launch.  Governance, administration, faculty, finance, development, support services - all systems are go!


We are still looking at a January 1, 2014 launch date.  Prior to that time, our faculty and staff are meeting our counterparts from CLU.  Presidents Anderson and Kimball have weekly telephone chats.  On the day of this writing, we received on-campus visits from Lynda Fulford of CLU University Relations and Brian Stetham of the faculty (who is also an excellent photographer!).


The point is that we all are excited about the ways this new partnership will benefit everybody.  If ever there was a time for such collaboration,

combined with the people who have the will to make it happen, this is it.


So please keep us in your prayers, as we move from strength into strength, for the sake of the gospel and the church.


Rev. Brian Stein-Webber

Director of Seminary Relations


P.S.  Hope to see as many of you as possible at the Celebratory Worship Service on Saturday, November 2, 10:30 a.m. at the PLTS Chapel of the Cross.  We will be acknowledging President Phyllis Anderson's remarkable leadership for the last nine years, and also the coming merger with CLU.  Lunch will be served afterwards.  No registration required.  Just show up!

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.


TEEM conference on campus!

Our beloved TEEM students have returned to campus! They are here for this whole week (Oct. 7-11) and have their schedules packed with classes, meetings, and worship. We have 20 new TEEM students to welcome to the PLTS family this year. They are pictured below in a group photo in front of the cross.



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.

Alum Speak: Erin Dunlavy, M.Div '13

Erin graduated in May and is awaiting call.  Her journey through seminary has been full of surprises, twists, and turns, which is the experience of most students.  She came to PLTS not knowing anyone and left with a call to be a Pastor and meeting her husband, Eric Johnson, MTS '12.  Her unique story is about their journey together, during Erin's final year of seminary, learning what it means to be loved by a community as she and Eric welcomed their daughter, Zoe, who was born in Berkeley on March 25th of this year.  

Photo: Erin, Eric, and Zoe


Life in the Moment


My daughter, Zoe, celebrated her six month birthday recently.  It was an uneventful day and that was nice.  An uneventful day is actually pretty refreshing.  You know how it is, right?  When things are just a little too exciting you are too caught up in the moment to moment urgency to really think all that much about what this moment means.  Zoe's birth is a blur.  Thank God it is a blur.  My husband, Eric, and I were preparing ourselves for a long day of labor when we were told they had to get the baby out, now! 


I was wheeled from the labor room to the operating room for a caesarian section while they took Eric to put on scrubs.  As they were wheeling me in, different doctors and nurses would look in my eyes and introduce themselves to me.  Then someone asked the baby's name.  I hadn't told anyone the name.  Only Eric and I knew that this was Zoe.  We told everyone it was a girl, but the name we wanted to ourselves just a little longer.  When they asked for the name, I think that was when I really started to cry.  "Zoe."  Life.  My life, my responsibility.  And I thought, "I am failing her." 


Read the rest of Erin and Eric's story here»  

Dr. Niveen Sarras Publishes Her First Article in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics

Dr. Niveen Sarras, a current student at PLTS, published her first articlelast month in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. She discusses the Prophet Amos and the stand he takes against rape  in the eighth century, B.C.E., when he wrote his oracle against Israel. Niveen's full article can be found here.


Bishop Jim Gonia's Reflection on Presiding Bishop Eaton's Installation

Our new ELCA Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, was installed last Saturday, October 5th.  Rocky Mountain Synod Bishop Jim Gonia wrote a wonderfully descriptive piece in his blog reflecting on the glory of the historical installation. For those of us who weren't so fortunate to have been present at the installation, Bishop Gonia paints a clear picture so we can imagine what the attendees experienced, and the qualities of the service that made it so wonderful. Read Bishop Jim Gonia's blog piece here, and be sure to scroll down to view the online webcast!

PLTS Student Spent Summer Volunteering in Brazil

Ricardo Riquerza, MTS '14 spent three months volunteering at Núcleo Mãe Maria in his home country of Brazil.  It's a place for neighborhood kids to come after school for educational and social programs.  Although Núcleo Mãe Maria is run by a religious group, Ricardo says the program is ecumenical and stresses that "All are welcome.  Drugs are a big problem in the neighborhood and this program gives the youth a place to stay busy in a positive environment.  We try to keep them busy and excited.  We let them choose what they want to learn each quarter.  We do the best we can to support, encourage, and help them believe in themselves through sports, computer time, and teaching them English.  They were happy and appreciated everything we did for them."  The program operates year-round.  For more information about Núcleo Mãe Maria, please visit their website.

John Huber's Ecumenical Collection

The Rev. John George Huber (Th.M. 1972 and D.Min. 1984), Founder and Pastor Emeritus at University Lutheran Church, La Jolla CA, serving the UCSD campus, has finally completed the Ecumenical Collection of John George Huber at the David Allan Hubbard Library of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.  The 342-page annotated bibliography of the Collection lists books, documents, dissertations, articles authored by John, memorabilia and audio visual material related to his lifelong quest for Christian unity that was largely inspired by his two degree programs at PLTS, especially under the leadership of Drs. Keith Bridston and Toivo Harjunpaa.  The Collection was originally intended for PLTS, but the merger of its library with the central library of the GTU prevented that possibility.  The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute at Berkeley also expressed an interest in the Collection, but its library also became a part of the GTU library.


In 2008, the library director of Fuller Theological Seminary stumbled across John's Th.M. thesis at the GTU library, entitled "The Principle of Comprehension as an Ecumenical Context for Christian Unity within Diversity."  When returning to Pasadena, he learned from the executive director of the Southern California Ecumenical Council that John was looking for a place to house his many ecumenical books and documents.  Five years later, the Collection project was concluded (even though much more could have been added).  But it was time to say, in keeping with the language of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, Article 7:  Satis est (It is enough).


So, thanks, PLTS, for helping me to reach this milestone on my ecumenical journey.


Student Spotlight: Paul Kacynski, M.Div/MA '15

Paul can often be seen around campus with his guitar in worship, leading liturgy he has written.  "Worship needs to be experiential.  We should feel something when we gather every Sunday.  When I write liturgy and lead worship, I hope I'm helping create this space for others where we can let God in since God wants to come to us.  I think our challenge today is to find new ways to bring the gems of tradition into our Sunday worship.  It's not that the old or the new is bad.  They are both good and we need ways to acknowledge that."  In Paul's liturgy, which he has graciously shared at PLTS during Wednesday chapel, the first song he wrote is "Rain Song," which came out of his desire to speak new words of confession. "Our world is broken.  We bring new brokenness each week.  Why then, would we speak the same words of confession?"

His passion for worship and liturgy came out of a need to let worship live in the present moment.  Paul has had a lot of life experience for someone so young.  It's those life experiences that have led him to follow Christ and to trust that seminary is where he is called to be. 


Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin and a member of Atonement Lutheran, Green Bay, Paul began serving in ministry after college.  While pursuing a Philosophy and Religious Studies double major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he got involved with campus ministry.  Following graduation, Paul participated in the ELCA's Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program in Israel/Palestine.  "It was a life changing experience.  Military occupation was and still is a very real part of life for the community there.  It affects everyone and is everywhere.  I mean, people need permits to go visit family in neighboring areas.  The control is just not fair."  Someday, Paul hopes to go back and serve again.


His year in YAGM was not all about an international mission experience.  Back home, his sister, Anni, was battling Ewing's sarcoma, a childhood bone cancer.  At one point, Paul took leave from Israel/Palestine to be with her.  She rallied and he went back to the Middle East to finish his year of service in the summer of 2009.  Anni died on October 26, 2009 and continues to be Paul's best friend and sister with an ever present soul.  "She was not religious, but spiritual.  She believed in chakras and the power of healing.  I miss her earthly presence dearly.  When I came to PLTS in the fall of 2010, I was really grieving.  My passion for exploring human suffering, no doubt comes from this experience of my sister dying.  I am working on my MA thesis and think a lot about all this stuff.  I really

believe that theology has to have a practical side and that God feels, suffers, weeps with us."  Paul also got a tattoo recently, which is an original design by his sister (pictured).  

"The logo represents Anni's life view from her unique and joyous perspective.  The chakra colored lotus flower, representing the seven healing energy centers in one's own body, emerges from a cursive letter "b," signifying to "be in the moment."  The resilient characteristic of the lotus flower, which seeks light as it grows out of murky water to bloom beautifully on the surface, makes it an inspiration to embrace life despite the challenges that come along with it." 


Blessed be the memory of Anni and blessed be those children of God, like Paul, who live in the moment to carry out the work of the Holy Spirit.


This spring Paul hopes to finish his MA thesis and then complete his internship next year.  When he is not studying, hosting theology nights, or writing, he is playing ultimate Frisbee, worship planning and serving as Director of Music at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley.

Happy Halloween!

Here's a fun tale to celebrate the holiday...which began early for us.  Last month, the residents of Beasom Dorm had a surprise visitor, who likely entered through an open door that can be found on a beautiful, Bay Area day.  The guest bat was found hanging from the ceiling on the second floor.  The residents, including former 4-H Extension Officer, Denise Arnold, summoned the support of the PLTS maintenance crew.  The early Halloween visitor was safely isolated and returned to its wilderness home of Tilden Park.  Its species is still unknown, from more than a dozen which reside in Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Area.  Be safe on Halloween and always check those doors and ceilings!

Alum Updates

Kirsten Sauey-Hoffman (M.Div '12): Kirsten is now the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hobbs, New Mexico.


Rebecca Langholz (M.Div, '11): Rebecca was ordained and installed as Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Ferndale, WA on September 19th.


Holly Gunby (M.Div 00): Holly recently completed her CPE Residency and Palliative Care Fellowship at the Portland, OR VA and accepted a staff chaplain position at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, WA. Holly is not only grateful to receive a great chaplain position but moving home to care for her aging parents.


Ashley Masoni (M.Div '03): Ashley has had a banner year. On June 22, she became a Board Certified Chaplain. On August 3 she celebrated 10 years of ordination, and on September 8, she celebrated 5 years of service as the Hematology/Oncology chaplain at The University of Kansas Hospital.


Dorthy Nielsen (M.Div '96): Dorothy is currently serving an interim at Christ Lutheran Church, Libby, MT. Her husband, John Dallum, is retired from school superintendency. They are having fun exploring the NW corner of Montana. (John grew up in central MT & Dorthy has served some congregations in central MT.)


Barbara Foltin (M.Div '01) and Sharon Lubkeman (M.Div '89): Christ Lutheran, El Cerrito voted on September 22nd to call Rev. Barbara Fulton to a half time Co-Pastor position with Rev. Sharon Lubkeman. Along with all aspects of ministry, her call will focus on the development of new ministries in the Pinole/Hercules area and to wherever the Spirit leads.


Sarah Birdsall Isakson (M.Div '02): Sarah is now pastor at Trinity, Willcox and St. Raphael in the Valley, Benson, both in Arizona.  St. Raphael is a joint Lutheran-Episcopal congregation.

IRA Rollover!
If you are over age 70 1/2, the Federal government permits you to rollover up to $100,000 from your IRA to charities without increasing your taxable income or paying any additional tax. These tax-free rollover gifts could be $1,000, $10,000, or any amount up to $100,000 this year. The gift satisfies your RMD for this year. Inquire with your tax consultant!

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