In This Issue
Many Thanks for the Ministry of Herbert Anderson
5th Annual Week of Renewal: June 23-27, 2014
Alum Speak: Rev. Wesley Telyea, M.Div '16
We Bid Farewell to Amber Remillard
PLTS Welcomes Visiting Faculty
Student Spotlight: Mary Shaima, MTS '16
PLTS Presentations in Baltimore
Ted Peters Has Some New Books!
In Memoriam: John Russell "J.R." Westerfield, M.Div '78
The Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund
Alum Updates
Attention Thrivent Members!
IRA Rollover!
Donate Today!
Study at PLTS Online!
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

December 2013

This last issue of Above the Fog for 2013 is also my last as president. As you will see from all the exciting news here, this time of transition is full of excitement, momentum, and new beginnings. I'm especially glad that Karen Bloomquist has been appointed as my successor and that she will be begin on January 6.


I come to this turning point in my life full to overflowing with the kindness and thoughtfulness and generosity I have experienced from the extended PLTS community. Thank you for the many ways you have found to thank me for these years.  We have accomplished a lot together. Bringing the merger with CLU into reality on January 1 is profoundly satisfying and hopeful. 


In the end, the accomplishments are overshadowed by the relationships with so many people who have shared this work: faculty and staff, students and alums, board members, donors, bishops and their staffs, colleagues in the Churchwide organization, leaders in the GTU and other ELCA seminaries,

and new friends at CLU. It is a privilege to be connected to this vital network of brothers and sisters in Christ who share my passion for preparing leaders for the church and the world. So thanks for your support - and your friendship. It is a gift I will treasure all my days.


May your Christmas be merry and the New Year bright - as it will be here at PLTS!




Many Thanks for the Ministry of Herbert Anderson

When asked to summarize his long and varied ministry, the Rev. Dr. Herbert Anderson says, "I have taken the adventures that were sent to me. I hope this will be how I am remembered."


Just as his wife, President Phyllis Anderson, retires from PLTS, so will Herbert leave the seminary at the end of this year, and the place will be the poorer for it.


He was born in Belvidere, Illinois, just outside of Chicago where his father was a Lutheran pastor in the Augustana Synod. His family moved to Minot, North Dakota, in 1941 where his father served two congregations, was a campus minister at the state college and conducted a radio ministry. When he was in the fifth grade, his father became the pastor of Elim Lutheran Church, Scandia, Minnesota. Herbert remembers beginning to listen to opera on the radio in 5th grade (something he still enjoys).  He attended high school and became valedictorian of his class in Forest Lake, Minnesota.


At the same time the family followed a call to Jamestown, New York, Herbert followed a scholarship to Gustavus Adolphus College.  His first intention was to become a choir director, but he discovered he lacked a sense of pitch.  He decided to pursue becoming a pastor, partly because he could do many things, and partly because of a sense of debt to his family.


Read the rest of Herbert's story hereĽ   

5th Annual Week of Renewal: June 23-27, 2014

You are invited to join new and old colleagues in ministry for a Week of Renewal on the PLTS campus in Berkeley.  Nestled in a beautiful setting between the Bay and Tilden Park, it's the perfect place to plan your five day retreat and continuing

education getaway.  Enjoy classes, worship, stimulating conversation, theological reflection, and restorative time.  Most evenings are free and make a perfect opportunity to explore the greater San Francisco Bay area. 


We are excited to welcome Dr. Herbert Anderson for a special Tuesday evening lecture, The Divine Art of Dying


Sunset out Giesy

Tuition for one course is $275 and two courses is $400.  Limited housing will be available for an additional fee.  Dr. Anderson's lecture is included in the tuition for one course and is $25 

per person for those who wish to attend Tuesday evening only. 


Registration on the PLTS website will be open soon.  If you'd like to reserve a spot now or have questions, please contact Sara Wilson in the Office of Seminary Relations at 510-559-2717.


Morning Courses (9:15-12:15)


Justifying Faith: 

"The Fragile Soul, Moral Injury, and the Life of Beatitude"

Ted Peters, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics, PLTS and the GTU

As we approach October 31, 2017 and the 500th Anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther's 95 Theses, this class will re-examine the doctrine of j justification by faith yield a liberating transformation, a free and joyous investment in love for oneself and for one's neighbor? How can faith in a trustworthy God make our life better?

New Challenges in Lutheran Ethics

Victor Thasiah, Assistant Professor of Religion, California Lutheran University           

New possibilities and challenges - ethical, political, economic, and ecological - demand new thinking and action. How is Lutheran ethics responding? Come, see, and discuss new ways of thought and practice concerning justice, resistance, and reformation.


Discipleship in the Key of John

Martha E. Stortz, Bernhard M. Christensen Professor for Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College

The gospel of John makes an argument about discipleship.   The account begins, not with a birth narrative, but a story of creation; it ends, not with the Last Supper, but with a First Breakfast.  In between are some of the most vivid encounters with some of the most unlikely people.   John's Jesus leads by asking questions: What are some of Jesus' questions - and how do they address us still?

Afternoon Course (1:30-4:30)


Seeing, Remembering, Connecting: 

Beyond Church Survival

Karen L. Bloomquist, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer, PLTS

This class will consider crucial shifts needed for ministry and mission of our congregations.  How might the ordinary verbs "seeing, remembering, and connecting" also become important faith practices through which God transforms our lives, congregations and communities? 

Alum Speak: Rev. Wesley Telyea, M.Div '10

Unlike many people who first begin to feel a call to ministry when they are away at camp or in the midst of a worship service, Telyea's call to be a pastor began in his studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. "Despite having grown up in a wonderful church the real impetus behind my call was the combination of wondering what I was going to do after college with an undergraduate degree in Religion, along with the realization of how much I loved theology." This realization promted Telyea to enroll at PLTS in 2006, three months after completing his undergraduate degree, and two months after marrying his college sweetheart Emilee. During his time at PLTS, Telyea deepened his love for the Lutheran Confessions through his course work, as well as his conversations with professors.    


After graduating from PLTS, Wes was able to spend time with Emilee and their first child, before eventually receiving a call to Saint Andrew's Lutheran Church in Bellevue, WA in 2011. This year he is serving as a first-time internship supervisor for PLTS student Mary-Alyce Burleigh. 


Upon arriving at Saint Andrew's Telyea two years ago, he was asked to lead a men's group retreat on a topic of his choosing.  After some thinking he decided to focus the retreat on Martin Luther's Smalclad Articles. "I know it seems odd to do a retreat on Luther's Smalcald Articles, however as Luther's theological last will and testament it provides a tool that we can use to craft our own theological last will and testaments as we seek to pass the faith on to a new generation of Lutherans." The retreat was a huge success, and Telyea was encouraged to publish the material from it. 


Read the rest of Wesley's story hereĽ 

We Bid Farewell to Amber Remillard

We bid fond farewell and Godspeed to Rev. Amber Remillard, who has been ably leading the Department of Admissions at PLTS for over a year. Amber was chosen from an elite group of applicants two summers ago to be the face of the seminary among prospective students.  She is a graduate of the school, having received her MDiv in 2006, and she served at a congregation in upstate New York.


It so happens that while she was in New York, she met her now-husband Matt, who worked at GE in Schenectady. They were married last December, and lived in one of the campus residences while Matt kept his employer but changed his job description and place of work.


Events in their lives conspired to suggest that Amber and Matt needed to move back to New York to be nearer to family. In addition, Amber professes to love snow. As a sign of her enjoyment of her PLTS work, she will look to continue in admissions work in the area.


Amber has expressed her gratitude for serving at this seminary, its affiliation with the Graduate Theological Union and its place in the American West. She has especially appreciated her contacts with personnel from the other ELCA seminaries, campus ministries across the country, and sibling non-Lutheran seminaries which send us Lutheran year students (such as Seattle University). She recently wrote to the community: "Thank all of you, from President Anderson to the newest of students for welcoming me and honoring my work in your midst. You have each truly been a blessing to me  and I am deeply thankful for you and for this holy place that we call PLTS."


A job opening announcement for Director of Admissions will be posted in the next week or so, after which interested persons are encouraged to apply for the honor of being Amber's successor.

PLTS Welcomes Visiting Faculty

PLTS is happy to announce that the Rev. Dr. Roger Rogahn and the Rev. Dr. Carol Miles will join the PLTS teaching faculty as visiting professors for the Spring 2014 semester.


Rev. Dr. Roger Rogahn received his doctorate in Reformation History from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, CA.  Dr. Rogahn has taught Reformation History and Lutheran Confessions for PLTS when we had a first year M.Div. program at the Claremont School of Theology in Southern California.  He has also taught at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt.  Rogahn has vast experience in serving the ELCA and its predecessors as a pastor for many years.  He is now retired from parish ministry.  Rogahn will serve full-time at PLTS this coming Spring semester.  He will be teaching Lutheran Confessions and Church History.  He will serve in various capacities around Campus, such as the worship committee and candidacy panels.  He will also serve as faculty advisor and as Formation Group leader.


Rev. Dr. Carol Miles received her doctorate in Theology and Communication in Preaching from Princeton Theological Seminary.  Dr. Miles will serve half-time teaching Biblical Preaching.  Dr. Miles has served as Associate Professor of Preaching at Luther Seminary and as Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, TX.  Dr. Miles has recently covered Dr. Tom Roger's sabbatical last year at PLTS.  She will be returning to teach the preaching course again, and to serve in other capacities.  She will serve on candidacy panels, PLTS's worship committee, and as faculty advisor to students.


We're looking forward to having Drs. Rogahn and Miles among us again.  They'll be joining the rest of the faculty teaching and serving in the Spring:  Dr. David Balch, Dr. Carol Jacobson, Dr. Brad Burroughs, Dr. Ted Peters, Dr. Gary Pence,  Dr. Leslie Veen, Dr. Moses Penumaka and Dr. Alicia Vargas.  Drs. Steed Davidson and Michael Aune will be on sabbatical in the Spring and will be returning to their teaching duties and joys next Fall. 

Student Spotlight: Mary Shaima, MTS '16

Mary loves worship and is pursuing a Master of Theological Studies at PLTS. She is a native of Southern California and serves as liturgist and lead cantor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Encinitas. Her studies in theater at University of California - San Diego literally helped her find her voice for praising God and inspired a passion for leading worship  Making a living as an actress proved nearly impossible (she jokes that she was "good, but not good enough" and that the pay is less than being a pastor) and stage managing didn't really provide a path to a promising vocation either. Instead of giving up, she found other ways to share her voice. 

Mary and her husband, Michael, spent many years practicing civil litigation law together. She used her voice as a paralegal while Michael worked as a lawyer; both helping many people in their community. In April 2012, Michael died after a seven year battle with bladder cancer. His memorial service provided an unexpected blessing - six non-church going friends called Mary afterwards to say that they were inspired to start worshiping. "I certainly didn't expect Michael's memorial service to become a time for evangelism. So many of us have a hard time dealing with death and dying. I really think there's a need here for equipping people with tools for leading worship and supporting people in their grief." Having spent a good deal of their life together, Mary wondered what might come next after Michael's death. 


Photo: Sawyer Hall at dusk, taken by Mary Shaima


Read the rest of Mary's story hereĽ 

PLTS Presentations in Baltimore

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is a learned society and professional association of about 9,000 teachers and research scholars, dedicated to furthering knowledge of religion and religious institutions. The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) is the largest international scholarly membership organization in the field of biblical studies, which includes over 8500 teachers, students, religious leaders and individuals who share a mutual interest in the critical investigation of the Bible. These two organizations meet for a joint Annual Meeting, where scholars of all levels present papers, participate on discussion panels and lead workshops about all aspects of religion and Bible.


This year's Annual Meeting was in Baltimore November 23 - 26.  Dr. Steed Davidson, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Dr. Ted Peters, Distinguished Research Professor of Systematic Theology, and Kyle Schiefelbein, Lecturer in Liturgical and Theological Studies and Coordinator of Online Education, made presentations. 


Dr. Steed Davidson presented a review of the book Soundings: Cultural Criticism in the SBL NT and Rhetoric Section. This collection of essays, edited by Greg Carey and Francisco Lozado, was compiled in honor of the work of Dr. Fernando Segovia of Vanderbilt Divinity School. Dr. Davidson's review examined the Theory of the Bible that interfaces with the power, culture, identity of the reader. This paper was presented. He also presented a paper entitled "Masked Theft: A Postcolonial Reading of 1Kings 21" in the SBL Minoritized Criticism Section. This paper examined the story of the Naboth's Vineyard from multiple positions. As the chair of the SBL Israelite Prophetic Literature Section, Dr. Davidson presided over one of the sessions as well as the Steering Committee meeting.


Professor Ted Peters delivered two papers at AAR. The firstwas titled, "Sexy Science and Raunchy Religion," in which he offered his recommendations for future agendas in the dialogue between natural science and Christian theology. The second paper introduced the new field of "Astrotheology,"which is that branch of theology which provides a critical analysis of the contemporary space sciences combined with an explication of classic doctrines such as creation and Christology for the purpose of constructing a comprehensive and meaningful understanding of our human situation within an astonishingly immense cosmos. Along with Bob Russell from the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences of the Graduate Theological Union, Ted will teach the first course ever on this subject during spring semester 2014 titled, STCE6005: Astrotheology and Astroethics. He is also currently co-editing a new book, Astrotheology: Theology Meets Extraterrestrial Life.


Kyle Schiefelbein facilitated a workshop called "Student Ethnography on the Internet" with colleague Martha Reineke from the University of Northern Iowa. This workshop was part of The Humanities and Technology Camp (THATCamp) held at AAR. It examined how students can supplement interviews with the quantitative data available online for crafting an ethnographic study of a particular geographic area. Kyle described how students engage in online demographic study to supplement their congregational ethnographies in PLTS's Reading Congregations course. Such study includes census data, relationships to civil society partners, crime statistics, and data provided by the congregation, the judicatory and other denominational studies. You can read more about Kyle and Martha's presentation here.

Ted Peters Has Some New Books!

New Espionage Thriller!

For God and Country


"The Black Op in the White Collar!"

Follow the adventures of Lutheran Pastor, Leona Foxx, through the twisting paths of treason and terrorism in the City of the Big Shoulders, Chicago. After becoming a victim of "moral injury," Leona recovers a lost faith and a dedication to pastoral ministry just in time to be roped in to worshiping a false god which demands blood sacrifice: national security. Out of the shambles of a broken conscience, a new patriot arises. 


How Can I Pray Like Jesus Did?

Short Prayers


Jesus said: "keep your prayers short." So, what is the theology of short prayers? In this brief book, the pattern of the collect prayer is developed to aid us in our private meditations. A months meditations for the searching soul will provide a healthy habit of daily devotion. 


Both books are available in paperback and eBooks at Amazon. Visit Ted's website:


The 3rd Edition is Coming

Many of our PLTS and other GTU students have come to know well Ted Peters' widely used textbook in the field of Systematic Theology, God--The World's Future.  The publisher, Fortress Press, has just agreed to publish a new revised edition, the 3rd edition, in late 2014 or early 2015.

In Memoriam: John Russell "J.R." Westerfield, M.Div '78

John Russell "J.R." Westerfield, M.Div '78

April 5, 1950 to September 11, 2013


J.R. Westerfield was born in Vancouver, Washington, and was baptized as a high schooler at Streams in the Desert in Tucson, Arizona.  He earned a bachelor's degree in theology and philosophy from Texas Lutheran College in Seguin in 1972 and married classmate Rhonda Jo Davis in 1973.  J.R. attended PLTS and received his Master of Divinity degree in 1978.


Pastor Westerfield served Saron in Hoquiam, Washington; Holy Trinity in Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Nordheim and Runge in Texas; Zion in Moulton, Texas; and Evangelical in Witting, Texas.  He also served congregations of the Tri-County Cooperative Ministries.


J.R. was a storyteller, Boy Scout leader, dog lover and humorist.  Memorial contributions may be made to Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, 562 S. Hwy. 123 Bypass, #250, Seguin, Texas 78155.

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.

Alum Updates

Becky (Herhold) Langholz, M.Div '11: Congratulations to Becky who was ordained on September 19 and is now serving at Zion Lutheran Church in Custer, Washington.


Cindy Carroll, M.Div '11: Cindy was installed as pastor of Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Citrus Heights, California on December 1.  Her most recent call was to St. John's Lutheran Church in Sacramento, California.


Greg Ronning, M.Div '88: Greg has accepted a new call to serve as a Mission Developer for the Pacifica Synod in Southern California.  This non-traditional mission start will be grounded in creative liturgical worship, community engagement, service to those in need, and boundless hospitality.  The vision is that this "emergent styled" faith community will meet in a bi-vocational facility, a warehouse or store front, that will not only gather people for worship but also host community events, service projects, outreach ministries, the arts, and activities for personal renewal.  Greg will begin this new ministry on February 1, 2014.


Andrea Doeden, TEEM student: Andrea will be ordained and installed as pastor at Zions Lutheran Church in Trinidad, Colorado on Saturday, December 14.  Bishop Jim Gonia will preside.


Sherri (Knutson) Frederickson, M.Div '07: Sherri is now Lead Pastor of the Tri-County Ministry in Binford, North Dakota.


Ellen Ayres, M.Div '11: Ellen requests prayers for her son and all her family.


Amy Austin, M.Div '05: Amy has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer which has metastasized to the abdomen and lungs.  She begins chemotherapy on December 9 with a planned six treatments.  Amy is currently living in Newberg, Oregon, near her brother and the congregation in which she was ordained, Joyful Servant.


Amy Schifrin, GTU Ph.D: Amy has joyously accepted a call to serve as Director of the North American Lutheran Seminary beginning January 1, 2014. The NALC's Seminary Center will be located on the campus of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA where she will also serve as Associate Professor of Liturgy and Homiletics.


Reg Schultz-Akerson, M.Div '80: Reg will be leaving Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, California to become the new Assistant to the Bishop for Rostered Leadership in the Southwest California Synod, under Bishop Guy Erwin.

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