In This Issue
A Time of Celebration, Thanksgiving, and Anticipation
Upcoming Faculty Changes
Come Celebrate Christmas at PLTS!
Alum Speak: Rev. Jeremy McLeod, M.Div '78
The Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund
Student Spotlight: Jayson Nicholson, M.Div '16
Save the Date! - Week of Renwal 2014
Alum Speak: Rev. Dr. Anthony Stephens, M.Div '95
The Early Days of PLTS: Rev. Dr. Ernst Tonsing
Alum Updates
IRA Rollover!
Study at PLTS Online!
Connect with PLTS!
Donate Today!
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

November 2013


There is big news to share today!  We received word that the academic accrediting organization, WASC, approved our merger with California Lutheran University.  This was the final step.  We are very thankful for your support and prayers.  You are a gift in our community. 


I also want to give you an update on a couple of additional things happening at PLTS.  First, the PLTS Board of Directors met in Berkeley October 31-November 2.  It was a time to get business done, give thanks to President Anderson, and celebrate our new future as the seminary of California Lutheran University which will take effect on January 1, 2014.  We welcomed three new board members: Bishop Brian Kirby Until from the Northwest Washington Synod, Rev. David Knapp from St. Luke's Lutheran in Portland, and Rev. David Nagler from Central City Mission in San Bernandino.  Two festive events were held at the culmination of this week; a story with photos on those is included further down in this newsletter.


Second, a search began last summer for the future Dean and Chief Administrative Officer who will succeed Phyllis Anderson when she retires on December 31st.  The search committee includes members from PLTS and CLU.  Of eighteen applicants, six were interviewed in round one and two participated in a second round of interviews that included spending a day each on the campuses of PLTS and CLU where candidates met with groups of students, faculty, and staff and then gave a presentation to the community with time afterwards for questions.  Everyone who participated was then invited to share feedback, which the search committee has forwarded to the President and Provost of CLU. 

They will make the final decision. We will keep you updated! 


Happy Thanksgiving,


Rev. Brian Stein-Webber

Director of Seminary Relations
A Time of Celebration, Thanksgiving, and Anticipation
On November 1st, a very merry group of 240 people gathered at the Claremont Hotel for the annual Great Thanksgiving celebration.  It was a fabulous evening in which we showed our gratitude to donors and celebrated the ministry and retirement of President Phyllis Anderson.  Some highlights from the party included speeches from Phyllis and Herbert's children, Joel and Joy, as well as special greetings from the many places Phyllis has served over the years - including Jonathan Stranjord (ELCA), Sally Simmel and Madelyn Busse (Chicago), Loretta Jancoski (Seattle), Gary Andeen (PLTS Presidential Search Process), Joel Wudel and Judy Larsen (PLTS), and Chris Kimball (merging with CLU).  Joel and Kari Wudel surprised us all with a special musical number.  Presentation of the Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund through the ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission was also made.  Initial gifts currently total over $40,000 and are enough to begin making a difference for students, beginning a year from now. 


On Saturday, November 2nd the community gathered in the PLTS Chapel of the Cross for worship in celebratory anticipation of the merger between PLTS and CLU.  Rev. Chris Boerger, brand new Secretary of the ELCA was the preacher. Merger rituals as a part of the service included introducing a new banner with the logos of both schools and the presentation of PLTS campus keys to CLU President Chris Kimball.  Thank you to everyone who attended!  Thank you also for the abundance of bold prayers and gifts that have kept us connected and moving forward into a blessed future.  The last vote of approval needed to finalize the merger was made by the academic accrediting organization, WASC, on November 6. 
Find us on YouTube! We've uploaded five videos of The Great Thanksgiving 2013. Share with your friends and family!
Upcoming Faculty Changes

Dr. Jane Strohl and Dr. Tom Rogers have both announced they are retiring from teaching at the end of this semester. We are grateful for their many faithful years of teaching, wisdom, humor and dedication to this seminary. We will miss them and wish to share our blessing upon them as they depart from our community.  More will be said about their tremendous impacts at PLTS in the next issue of Above the Fog.  

Come Celebrate Christmas at PLTS!




Space is limited. Please RSVP by November 22 here.
Alum Speak: Rev. Jeremy McLeod, M.Div '78

Dear Ones and Gentle People:

Some 36 years ago I wrote a letter to Wally Stuhr in which I expressed a longing to be part of a community of faith in which one's sexual orientation would be about as remarkable as the color of one's hair.  About the same time I began praying and working for a day when I'd live in a place where the institution of marriage would be open to same-sex couples, without fanfare, without being extraordinary. Today I'm a pastor in the UCC, living in a parsonage with my husband of 17 years and as of today, we finally live in a state in which our marriage will be recognized legally. There's still lots of work ahead, but all I can feel right now is deep gratitude.  36 years ago I'm not sure I expected to be able to write these words in my lifetime.  The Arc of the Universe IS long, and it IS bending toward Justice.

The PLTS community in 1974-1977 and beyond has been a supportive part of this positive trajectory in my life and the lives of many other LGBT seminarians.  Thank you.


Rev. Jeremy McLeod, Senior Pastor
St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Chicago
(f.k.a. Lorn Brown)
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. There is no deadline for your gift.

Student Spotlight: Jayson Nicholson, M.Div '16

Jayson's call to be a Pastor began when he was three or four years old and preached to his cat.  Several years later, he attended San Diego State University where he graduated with a major in kinesiology and emphasis in physical education with a plan to become a teacher.  "At that time, pink slips were being handed out to teachers everywhere.  We were encouraged to take some time for intentional discernment--to think about doing something else--so I did."  This time of intentional discernment was far from vacation or retreat time.  Soon after graduation, Jayson became the Campus Ministry Assistant.  During his time in this role, he got to try out church ministry and learned a lot about serving in the ELCA.  Some of his most memorable experiences include attending the ELCA churchwide assembly and going to Synod assemblies.  


"The one thing that really made me realize that being a Pastor is who I am called was when my friend went missing.  I helped organize a candlelight vigil and 200 people showed up.  Later that night, Channel ten called me and told me his body had been found.  I'm not sure why I didn't tell them off, but it's a good thing I didn't.  My friend's family asked me to talk to the media for them.  His mom told me later that this allowed them to stay strong.  I gave them the space they needed to be together and grieve.  She gave me the strongest hug ever--to this day, I remember it and I know God was present with all of us.  As sad as this whole experience was, it helped me discover my calling and that I really want to be able to drop everything and be there for people when they need someone to be with them."


Jayson's call to ministry is likely to go beyond parish and campus ministry. This past summer, Jayson completed Officer Development School, the very first part of the process the U.S. Navy requires for the training of military chaplains.  The program is designed to run concurrently with seminary.  ELCA rostered military chaplains are expected to serve a minimum of three years in a parish before becoming eligible for active duty.  In the coming years, Jayson will complete three phases of Chaplain School which will cover topics like military chaplaincy, survival training, and victim advocacy.  "I am excited about being a Pastor in a congregation and serving as a military chaplain in the Navy."

In his free time, Jayson enjoys playing Frisbee and sailing.  "My number one favorite thing to do is skydiving, but I don't get to do that very often!  But sailing, I love that too and there have been times in my life where I could get out on the water three times a week.  It was great fun to watch the America's Cup [in the San Francisco Bay] from a boat.  Being out there, on the water, that's my happy time."  

Save the Date! - Week of Renewal 2014

Week of Renewal will take place at PLTS June 23-27, 2014.  More information about classes, housing, costs, and more will be available in December.  Please plan to attend - it's going to be another great five days of classes along with plenty of time for catching up with old friends, making new friends, and enjoying all the Bay Area has to offer.  

Alum Speak: Rev. Dr. Anthony Stephens, M.Div '95

Rev. Stephens is currently serving as Pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Croton on Hudson, New York.  In July, he returned from deployment to Afghanistan as a military chaplain of the National Guard.  We give thanks to Anthony for writing his story and to all who serve and have served our country.


"When I was at PLTS, I met with a Navy recruiter and it slowly became crystal clear to me that I was being called to military chaplaincy.  As a Briton with a green card though, my option at the time was to become a US Army chaplain. I felt comfortable with this as my father had been a soldier as had all my uncles. Those who survived to WWII, fought in WWII.


I applied at the Oakland processing center and was deemed fit.  However, I received a letter saying that my application could not be approved because my undergraduate credential from the UK (a 4 year Merchant Navy cadetship) was not acceptable.  PLTS, through Dean Lull, and the GTU registrar helped me wage a determined fight to review, but to no avail.  It was disappointing and confusing. Although I have had two great pastorates and very fulfilling chaplaincy, this seemed to be the call I felt most strongly. However, all other options were off the table until I became a citizen.


As the Bush / Gore election came in site, I put aside some semantic reservations about the oath of allegiance, because I thought it critical that I be able to vote in what I thought was going to be a momentous election.  It was long after the election was decided that I decided to approach the U.S. Navy now that I had become a citizen in 2006.


By this time, I had completed a Ph.D in human development, was licensed as a mental health counselor in New York, and held a total of three graduate degrees.  This seemed appealing to the U.S. Navy, however, after a couple of years of applying and working with a recruiter, they said they wanted me to have an undergraduate degree from the United States. So, I obtained an undergraduate degree from Excelsior College in New York.  I was still not selected.  I tried one more time, and I was still not selected, even after meeting with two selection boards and having the President and Secretary of the Navy review my application and qualifications.  Instead of giving up, I pursued a law degree.  Once of my classmates had returned from Iraq as a military intelligence officer. 'Try the National Guard,' he suggested..."


Read the rest of Anthony's story hereĽ   

The Early Days of PLTS: Rev. Dr. Ernst Tonsing

Ernst F. Tonsing, Ph.D. M.Div  '66

Professor Emeritus of Religion and Greek

California Lutheran University

Thousand Oaks, California


Each round of the years brings November 22, a dreadful day with painful memories.  It is even more so with the approach of the fiftieth anniversary this year, 2013.  I had served three years as an officer in the United State Navy, and retired in the summer of 1962, to enter Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California.  A year had passed, and I was now a "Middler" student, immersed in studies of the Old and New Testaments, Church History and Greek.


We were two months along in another course, "Homiletics," that is, preaching, in which we were assigned the lessons of certain Sundays of the Church Year to exegete (analyze), and to deliver our homilies in various churches around the East Bay area, so that we could get used to standing in front of congregations in a pulpit.


The class was taught by Dr. George Muedeking, an excellent but flamboyant professor who wore the widest, most outrageously bright neckties that I had ever seen.  In these outings from the campus, he instructed the class to sit at the rear of the church forcing the speakers to enunciate clearly, to project their voices, and to transmit their energy to those seated far away.


It was my turn to speak before the class on Friday, November 22.  We went to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church near the seminary, entered, and sat at the rear of the sanctuary.  I had been given the Gospel text for the "Ascension of Christ" Sunday on which to speak.  It was a beautiful Berkeley day.  The fog had burned away early, and the air was clean, crisp and glorious.  I was nervous, of course, but I had prepared carefully, and was eager to "get it over with." 


Read the rest of Fred's story here   

Alum Updates

David Miller, M.Div '09: David is now serving Immanuel Lutheran Church in Woodburn, Oregon, having moved from another "O" state, Ohio!


Alex Brown, exchange student '08: Alex is serving a three-point parish in Ohio, Jerusalem/Roseville, St. Paul/Roseville and Solomon/Eagleport.


Melanie Martin-Dent, M.Div '82: Melanie resigned from her call at Hope Lutheran Church in Anaconda, Montana, and is now serving as interim pastor at both Hope American Lutheran Church and Terry Presbyterian Church, both in Fallon, Montana.

Joelle Colville-Hanson, M.Div '85: Joelle is now the Director for Evangelical Mission at the Northeastern Iowa Synod. 


Susan Lynch, M.Div '96: Susan has accepted a new call as the Senior Pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Coatesville, PA, and was installed on Sunday, October 27, 2013.


Phil (M.Div '97) and Laura (M.Div '99) Holck: Phil and Laura have been called as co-pastors to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Cross in Calgary Canada. Laura completed a DMin in Preaching at LSTC in May 2011 and Phil will complete the same program in May 2014.


Breonna and Ryan Roberts, M.Div '10 and M.Div '09: Breonna, Ryan welcomed their second child, a baby boy, Clark Francis Roberts on October 16th 


Glenn Petersen, M.Div '74: Glenn has accepted a pastoral position at

Mountain View Lutheran Church in Edgewoood, WA and will be moving with his wife Carol to the Southwestern Washington Synod.


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. Talk with your tax consultant!

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