In This Issue
Welcome from the President of Cal Lutheran!
Meet the New Dean, Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist!
Remembering Seminex: Enter Without Knocking!
Endowment Lab is coming!
Friends of PLTS Join CLU Board of Regents
5th Annual Week of Renewal: June 23-27, 2014
Alum Speak: Rev. Kristin Luana Baumann, M.Div '11
In Memoriam: Rev. Manuel Bernal (BTEM '96)
In Memoriam: Dr. Jarvis Streeter
Student Spotlight: Wesley Menke, CATS '13
In Memoriam: Wava Joan Peters
Alum Updates
Attention Thrivent Members!
Donate Today!
Study at PLTS Online!
Connect with PLTS!
Quick Links

Join our list
Join Our Mailing List
Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

January 2014

It is January, and we are now living into our merger as Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University.  Praise be to God!


If you were with us here in Berkeley, everything would look the same. No elves snuck onto campus on New Year's Eve to change signs or paint buildings or otherwise alter things. We are still the place you all have come to know.


But now we are officially part of a larger family. We are now a member of the fine Lutheran institution of learning that is CLU.  And more than that, we are becoming friends with our new partners in ministry - the staff, faculty and administration in Thousand Oaks. This month I'd like to introduce you to two new friends, President Chris Kimball of Cal Lutheran and our new PLTS Dean, the Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist. Please take a few moments to read their messages below. 


PLTS and Cal Lutheran have joined hands in order to do things that we could not do separately. That is very exciting. As the 25th anniversary slogan of the ELCA says, "Always Being Made New!"


So continue to pray for the seminary, its brilliant students, and all who join with them in this holy venture.


In Christ,

Rev. Brian Stein-Webber

Director of Seminary Relations



Welcome from the President of Cal Lutheran!

Happy New Year! Now that California Lutheran University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary have merged, I am pleased to welcome you to the Cal Lutheran community. I recognize that PLTS is a special place, with a rich history of faith formation and critical to the future of the Lutheran church in the West. Cal Lutheran is proud to join with you in shaping seminary education.


For those of you I have not had the pleasure of meeting during the merger process, allow me to briefly introduce myself. I have served as president of Cal Lutheran for nearly six years. Prior to becoming president, I was the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. My field is United States history, and specifically the history of cities and the history of sports. For many years, I served as a member of the faculty and administration at Augsburg College in Minneapolis before making my way west.


But that is enough about me. I look forward to exploring the many possibilities for collaboration now available to us. It is a unique opportunity for two educational institutions with shared roots in the Lutheran church to further the mission of the ELCA and to foster the development of future leaders for the church and the world.




Footnote: Learn more about California Lutheran University and President Chris Kimball at and follow the President on social media at Cal Lutheran President on Facebook ( and @clupresident on Twitter.

Meet the New Dean, Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist!

I began as dean and chief administrative officer of PLTS on Epiphany Day, January 6, after driving down from Bellingham, WA with my husband Bill Strehlow.  Not only were we both students here (in the 70s), but we were also married in the Chapel of the Cross, so this place holds lots of memories for us. Coming back to PLTS feels like coming full circle, even though PLTS has changed a lot through those years.


These first few days I am spending a lot of time getting to know the committed staff and faculty who are carrying PLTS into this new era, and as we together make the transition into procedures, policies and ethos of California Lutheran University.  We now are living into this new "marriage," trying to figure things out day by day. In this process, upholding the integrity and distinctiveness of PLTS as a seminary of the ELCA has been crucial. Soon students will be returning for the new term, so connecting with them will then be a high priority for me. In addition to the new Cal Lutheran relationship, relating to donors, alums, and various other kinds of partners - in the GTU, synods, and churchwide - is part of my multi-relational agenda. Beyond that, wider global relationships, growing especially out of my years with the Lutheran World Federation, are also important for me, and I hope increasingly so for PLTS.


An especially urgent priority is to advertise very soon for two faculty positions, which Alicia Vargas (the Associate Dean) and I hope can be filled before the Fall term.   


I feel blessed to be here, in this time of new beginnings filled with exciting new possibilities for the future of PLTS, and look forward to being in contact with many of you. I invite you to

email me anytime at In this season of Epiphany, we pray that Christ the Light will continue transforming us and our various ministries for the sake of the world.


The Rev. Dr. Karen L. Bloomquist


Remembering Seminex: Enter Without Knocking!

Forty years ago, on February 20, 1974, a group of approximately 500 seminary students, and 45 faculty, and their families were exiled from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis because of their commitment to the Gospel.


You are invited to join us for worship, lunch, and conversation to commemorate this important event in our church's history.  PLTS is pleased to welcome Bishop Richard Jaech, Seminex Alum, from the Southwestern Washington Synod as our preacher for the day. Come to this free and inspiring event to learn more about Seminex, meet people who lived through the exile, and participate in dialogue of how the spirit of Seminex is alive and continues to open doors for ministry in the 21st century. 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

PLTS Chapel of the Cross

2770 Marin Ave, Berkeley, CA

10:30 am Coffee and Refreshments

11 am Worship

Free lunch following worship with roundtable conversation, to conclude at 1:30 pm


Special thanks to the members of the Bay Area Spirit of Seminex Group for inspiring us to live out the mission of the ELCA to be a church that is "Always Being Made New" and for sponsoring this event!


All are welcome! To help us plan for lunch, please kindly RSVP by Thursday February 13th to Erin Horne at 510-559-2727 or

Endowment Lab is coming!!

Friends of PLTS Join CLU Board of Regents

Linda Baumhefner, PLTS Advisory Board Member, and Bishop Mark Holmerud of the Sierra Pacific Synod are two of the five newly appointed members to the Board of Regents at California Lutheran University in December. Their participation in Berkeley and Thousand Oaks supports our new ministry partnership and will help both campuses fulfill their vision for expanding educational opportunities for students and strengthening the financial future of the seminary. You can read the full press release from CLU here.

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

Sunset out Giesy

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


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 available within the next week. Please check back on our website soon to register! If you'd like to reserve a spot now or have questions, please contact Gretchen McDonald in the Office of the Dean at 



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. Kristin Luana Baumann, M.Div '11

Call to the Far North


There seem to be two most likely scenarios for Lutheran Pastors looking for a call in North America, especially when they are first call candidates: Either you are assigned to an attractive urban area where between 400 and 800 Lutheran pastors are waiting for an opportunity for ministry, and so you pick up your knitting needles and join them in the waiting room; or you follow a call into a rural area, where, in addition to your regular work, you travel twice a month for 4 hours through complete wilderness to serve your Lutheran sisters and brothers out there who are without pastor at the moment. 


That is what my husband Olaf and I are doing right now. Olaf and I graduated from PLTS in 2011. It was always our dream to serve as a pastoral team, and we were assigned as First Calls to a VERY attractive urban area, where the average waiting time for call for one single pastor was two years. Because we financially could

n't afford that long a waiting time, and because we saw our dream of team ministry dwindle away altogether, we asked our bishop for permission to look for a call outside of our synod. The team call which came out of that inquiry was to Sudbury, Northern Ontario, Eastern Synod of the ELCIC.


Our ministry in the far north is adventurous, challenging, and very rewarding. We have to learn all kinds of new life skills, like how to survive deep freezes in winter, thaw floods in spring, black fly attacks in summer, and black bear encounters in fall. Nature is not exactly welcoming here! The people, however, are very much so. Sudbury is the urban center of Northern Ontario. Sudburians, as a general rule, are generous and helpful, with a remarkable sense of community. We serve two congregations which had just formed a parish before they called us and our Finnish speaking colleague, Rev. Vihtori Leskela. Our parishioners welcomed us with open arms and open minds. "You want to try a new liturgy, pastor? Sure! Always the same ol' hymns, how boring is that!" "You're asking if we would consider cooking for 30 young families once a month in a new evangelizing ministry called 'Messy Church'? No problem, sounds like fun!"  

Our main task in this parish is to lead our congregations through a discernment process, in which we will hopefully determine what it is that God calls us to do, now and here, as we are transitioning from being ethnically Finnish congregations to mainstream Canadian ones. After that is accomplished, and the parish is set on its new path, who knows what comes next for us as pastoral team! 

In Memoriam: Rev. Manuel Bernal (BTEM '96)

The Rev. Manuel Bernal, an alum of PLTS, entered the church triumphant on January 3, 2014. He was born on June 18, 1941 in Barcelona, Spain and became a resident of the United States in April 1960. He and his wife Linda were married in January 1965.


Pastor Bernal studied Theology at the Spanish American Baptist Seminary in Los Angeles, Northern Baptist Seminary and College in Chicago and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. He was also part of the Basic Theological Education for Ministry Program (BTEM), finishing in 1996.


He joined the Lutheran Church in 1972 and he assisted with the Hispanic ministry at Angelica Lutheran Church in Los Angeles  He served First Lutheran Church in Fullerton, California from 1981 to 1989 as the Director of Hispanic Ministry, Word and Sacrament. Then he moved to Miami, Florida to serve as a Refugee Coordinator for the Lutheran Ministries of Florida.  In 1992, he became pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Glendora, California.


In March of 1996, Pastor Bernal was ordained into the ELCA at Calvary.  He became a part-time Director for Hispanic Ministry/Mission Director for the Southwest California Synod in 1998 under Bishop Paul Egertson. He retired from ordained ministry in February 2011.


Pastor Bernal is survived by his wife, his four children, and beloved grandchildren. A service was held on January 9.

In Memoriam: Dr. Jarvis Streeter

We are sad to announce that one of the faculty of the religion department of California Lutheran University, Dr. Jarvis Streeter, passed away on December 23, 2013. He had been valiantly living with pancreatic cancer for some time, and he was open and bold and faithful in talking about it. A video of him speaking about his convictions can be found here.


Dr. Streeter was an accomplished scholar, dedicated teacher, loyal friend, and an inspiration to many at Cal Lutheran. He joined the faculty in 1988 as a professor of Religion. A specialist in Christian theology, he taught a variety of courses, including Faith and Reason, and was able to convey complex theological issues in plain language that resonated with students. He was named Professor of the Year by the Class of 1991, received the President's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004, and was made an Honorary Alumnus in April 2013. He remained committed to his scholarly pursuits even as he was dying, recently finishing his second book, "God and the History of the Universe."


A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, January 25 in CLU's Samuelson Chapel in Thousand Oaks. In lieu of flowers, his family requests that donations be made to CLU for the Streeter Family Endowment to benefit the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival.

Student Spotlight: Wesley Menke, CATS '13

Wes and his wife, Sheri, along with their two children, Rebecca and Chaz, are spending this year in Arizona where Wes is completing his internship at Sierra Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Vista. He's the 32nd intern for this congregation and says that "the internship program is definitely an important ministry for this church. They have a wall in the fellowship hall that has pictures of every single intern with their supervisor. I am having a great experience here learning from Rev. Mark Perry and the congregation. I spend ten hours a week at the local, regional hospital making chaplain visits and leading chapel prayer services twice a week and another thirty hours in the congregation."


Sheri is also working this year at Sierra Evangelical Lutheran Church, serving as the Minister of Faith Formation where she organizes the congregation's youth programs. "Sometimes we get to work together. She just got back from a Youth Quake event in Mesa with the junior and senior high youth. Next summer, I'll be taking the high school group to the Western States Youth Gathering at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Yeah, we have a lot of fun!"


Every PLTS intern designs and implements a project. Wes' project, MESA (Mixing Evangelism, Service, and Ages), was a program he led on Wednesday nights during Advent. "It was a cross-generational evening where youth invited the senior members of the church to come. We used assigned seating so that each table group included members representing a wide spectrum of ages. During activity time, table groups worked together to create something artistic that was focused on the topic of the week. One week we made churches out of play-doh and talked about ministry in the church. After dinner, our informal procession to the sanctuary involved placing our works of church around the altar. In worship, we focused some of our prayers on the week's theme. People really enjoyed the whole thing and we're thinking about using a similar format for Lent."


Wes is currently leading two adult education classes in addition to the fun mix of work Pastors do in parish ministry. He says that he is really "coming to appreciate ministry with seniors. I served for seven years as a youth minister and I think sometimes as a church we obsess too much about growing in numbers with young people. We need to be sensitive to the ministry needs of everyone, especially seniors. Church is really important in the 'third chapter' of life which can be one of remarkable change - retirement, empty nesting, questions about losing independence and end of life.The congregation's role can't be over appreciated." 


As the MESA project proved, cross-generational ministry is one way to support the lives of everyone in a congregation. Great job, Wes!  And thanks to congregations, like Sierra Evangelical Lutheran Church and supervisors like Rev. Mark Perry for hosting, teaching, and supporting the PLTS internship program!


Retired Rev. Dick Andersen, member of Sierra Vista Evangelical Lutheran Church, has been a contributor to the Religion section of The Sierra Vista Herald. Every year that he's written for the newspaper, he's published an article about the intern. You can read his article about the Menke family here.

In Memoriam: Wava Joan Peters

The seminary has just learned of the death this past year of former employee of PLTS, Wava Peters. She passed away on May 6, 2013. Wava was well known during her stint here from 1983 until her retirement in 1999. She first served in the contextual education department, and then as administrative assistant to the Deans of the seminary. Wava always had a positive attitude and was one of the most congenial persons on staff.


She was born in Wilton, Iowa on March 28, 1927, one of three children of Ernest and Ada (Jipp) Brammeier. Her first job was with RCA Communications in San Francisco, receiving and transmitting WWII radio transmissions in Morse code.  She married in San Francisco, and within three years returned with her family to Iowa to farm. She was active in the Lutheran Human Relations Association program, which provided opportunities for disadvantaged Chicago youth to experience farm life. (Current Director of Seminary Relations Brian Stein-Webber recalls one such youth spending the summer with his pastor uncle's family in Strawberry Point, Iowa.)


Wava later had administrative positions in St. Louis and Nashville, the latter city where she was an office manager at a law firm.


Wava is survived by her four children (Racy, Dorian, Tony and Nola), twelve grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.  Wava was an accomplished cook, gardener and horseback rider and she loved to play the flute. She has and will continue to be missed by those who knew her at PLTS.

Alum Updates

Reg Schultz-Akerson, M.Div '80: Reg has taken the position of Assistant to Bishop Guy Erwin of the Southwest California Synod.  He and his wife Peg have left their positions at Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, California.


Marcia Brennan, CATS '06: Marcia has been serving at First Lutheran Church in Newell, South Dakota since September, 2012.


Misael Fajardo-Perez, M.Div '13: Misael will be ordained on February 16th at Celebration Lutheran Church in East Wenatchee, WA.


Anders Peterson, M.Div '12: Anders was ordained and installed on January 12th at Cyprian's Center in San Francisco, CA.

Attention Thrivent Members!

There is still time!  Your simple vote can 

help our seminary fund - click here to direct your Thrivent Choice dollars to PLTS.  We are grateful for you and appreciate the generosity of Thrivent Financial.  

Donate Today!
Your generous support of PLTS helps to ensure that the future leaders of the ELCA church are well equipped to enliven the church, serve the world, and advance the frontiers of theology.

To make a donation to PLTS, please click here, or send checks to:
PLTS Annual Fund, 2770 Marin Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94708

Study at PLTS Online!


Connect with PLTS!
Stay updated on the latest news & events from PLTS!
Keep us up to date with your whereabouts and news with