In This Issue
Welcome to the New PLTS Director of Admissions!
Alum Spotlight: Bradn Buerkle, M.Div '02
Save the Date: New Dean Installation!
5th Annual Week of Renewal: June 23-27, 2014
The Segerhammar Center Presents Dr. Larry Rasmussen!
Annual Endowment Lab was a Success!
TEEM Spring Update
Jane Strohl Receives New Call!
Annual Remember the Future Brunch
Honoring 40 Years of Seminex - Enter Without Knocking!
In Memoriam: Lena Nicolai Kees Ratassepp Woodmansee
PLTS of CLU - Merger Celebration Day in Berkeley!
Alum Updates
Attention Thrivent Members!
Donate Today!
Study at PLTS Online!
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Above the Fog
PLTS Newsletter

March 2014


Lent is often a season for us to slow down, simplify, and make extra time for prayer, try a new spiritual practice, or give up something that we decide we don't need.    


PLTS has created extra space this year by giving something up. New this academic year is the intentional scheduling of classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays only. With teaching parish and other church commitments on the weekend, we wanted to support students in their need to have a Sabbath day. As a seminary, we decided this is a good place to practice this important part of being a strong, healthy, balanced church leader - taking time to rest and do things that recharge one's mind, body, and spirit. With no classes on Fridays, I have noticed that our community time on Wednesdays has grown! Not only has participation increased, but the positive energy and camaraderie are a powerful testament to the strong sense of care students, faculty, staff, and several faithful visitors have for one another. While Lent is definitely not a slow time at PLTS, it is unfolding as a season where we are on a journey of building a stronger community together. For this, I give thanks to Jesus for being our example of what it means to live and serve together as a church family.


Thank you, to you, for supporting the students, faculty, and staff in our intentional community! 


Coming up in April are two more special events that I sincerely hope you can attend. Dean Karen Bloomquist's installation service along with a panel discussion on the future of theological education is going to take place on April 26. We also excited to welcome Dr. Larry Rasmussen to PLTS on April 9. Details about these events are below.


Really, thank you for supporting PLTS! We could not provide theological education without you. This year is particularly challenging for us, financially, because our fiscal year is reduced to eleven months (now ending on May 31) as we merge our systems with Cal Lutheran. If you are able to make a gift of any size, we would greatly appreciate this! You can trust that 100% of gifts to PLTS will always benefit the seminary. here to invest in today's seminary students. Thank you again!


May God be with you always!


Sara Wilson

Associate Director of Seminary Relations

Welcome to the New PLTS Director of Admissions!

Pastor Holly Johnson has accepted the PLTS Director of Admissions position and will start on Wednesday, April 9th. Holly is a 2012 PLTS alumna who was most recently serving in North Dakota as a Mission Developer and Interim Pastor for Our Savior Lutheran Church and Redeemer Lutheran Church. Holly's stated passion "for being a part of the conversation and action around the future of theological education" makes her the ideal leader of the PLTS admissions office. Holly was ordained in October, 2012 and was first rostered as an AIM in the ELCA in 2002. She has worked extensively in college ministry in a variety of settings, including California, Colorado, and Washington. As a pastor, she understands the "primary importance of helping people explore their call, while also being an active part of a small faith and learning community." Holly has a track record of developing innovative ministry programs for young adults. 


Holly received her Bachelor's degree in English Writing and Family Studies from ELCA sister institution, Concordia College, in Moorhead, Minnesota. We are excited to have Holly's presence back on the PLTS campus and have her as a new member of the CLU community. We hope you will join us in welcoming Holly!

Alum Spotlight: Bradn Buerkle, M.Div '02 

As I was looking at my upcoming fourth-year internship, I realized that I really hoped to do something unusual. I considered applying to the domestic horizon program, but the ELCA's International Horizon program was particularly attractive to me. What wasn't clear, though, is where I might go. I had a long-time interest in Russia (having majored in Russian at St. Olaf), but I couldn't imagine working in the church there...until Brian Stein-Webber told me about another PLTS graduate, Wes Howell. I got in touch with him and learned about the partner relationship Wes' congregation had with a church in St. Petersburg, Russia. That got the ball rolling for the Russian church to apply to be a site in the ELCA's horizon program. At the same time, I applied to the program, but this was no guarantee that I would be accepted, that the site would be accepted, or that the two of us would be matched together. That last point became especially clear when I met the other international interns, who were sent to places that seemed inexplicable - the German speaker was sent to Egypt, the Spanish speaker to Berlin, the Islamic studies specialist to South America. The logic behind that, I later found out, was that there seemed to be a good mentor-intern match in all those places.


My mentors would be two pastors - the German dean serving in St. Petersburg and the ELCA pastor (Chris Repp) working at the Lutheran seminary just outside of the city. After a short time in St. Petersburg, I was to serve in a congregation three hours away in Novgorod, one of Russia's ancient capitals and a beautiful city. I was sent to be their first full-time Lutheran minister since the 1930s in a congregation that slowly came back to life in the 1990s.


Read the rest of Bradn's story hereĽ

Save the Date: New Dean Installation!

We are pleased to welcome Musimbi Kanyoro as the preacher!

Musimbi Kanyoro is a passionate advocate for women and girls' health and human rights, and social change philanthropy, and is the current President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women. Dr. Kanyoro is an accomplished leader with three decades of experience managing international non-governmental organizations, global programs, and ecumenical agencies in cross-cultural contexts. She is a strategic leader who inspires people, and mobilizes action and resources. She is the author of dozens of articles and hundreds of speeches and opinion pieces and has written and co-edited 7 books. Musimbi is a frequently sought after public speaker.

Dr. Kanyoro also serves on several International Boards and working groups including the Aspen Leaders Council, the UN High level Taskforce for Reproductive Health and the boards of CARE, IntraHealth and CHANGE.


Dr. Kanyoro has Ph.D in Linguistics from the University of Texas, Austin and a Doctorate in Feminist Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary. She was a visiting scholar of Hebrew and the Old Testament at Harvard University. She has received three honorary doctorates and several recognition awards, including a leadership award from the Kenya Government and most recently she was named as one of the 21 women leaders for the 21st century by Women's E-News. 

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. 


Register here today! If you have questions, please contact Gretchen McDonald in the Office of the Dean a510-559-2731.


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 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? 

The Segerhammar Center Presents Dr. Larry Rasmussen!


The Segerhammar Center for Faith & Culture of 

California Lutheran University presents


Dr. Larry Rasmussen

Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary


Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Chapel of the Cross

2770 Marin Ave, Berkeley, CA 94708


Public Lecture at 10 am

"God, Ethics, and the Anthropocene"


Eucharistic Worship at 11:30 am - note the time change!

"New Wineskins," based on Luke 5:36-39


Community Lunch will follow worship.


There is no cost to attend this event. To help us with meal planning, kindly RSVP to or 510-559-2727 by April 3rd.
Annual Endowment Lab was a Success!

Students and community members gathered on a Friday evening and Saturday in early February to learn how endowments can have a positive impact for congregations and serve as a resource and outreach to those beyond church walls. A real life endowment fund serves as a primary tool for helping students practice how to manage an endowment fund. All participants had the opportunity to learn about investments, endowment committees, methods for setting up a fund, and the variety of uses for an endowment fund as well as educating others on its purpose and inviting people to invest in one. Special thanks to our guest instructors, Gregory Jahnke, Thrivent, and Joel Wudel, ELCA Mission Investment Fund, for teaching the class! If you missed this year's event - mark your calendar for February 7, 2015!



TEEM Spring Update


TEEM's J-term was held from January 27th to February 1st. The entire PLTS community got to meet each other and take interesting courses, making it a fun and meaningful session for everyone.



We were fortunate to have a variety of faulty, from the Thousand Oaks campus of CLU and PLTS teach fascinating courses and workshops that were beneficial for the future ministry of TEEM students: Dr. Rahuldeep Gill-Singhand (CLU), and Dr. Moses Penumaka (PLTS) taught together "World Religions;"Dr. Carol Jacobson (PLTS) taught a workshop about "Youth Ministry" and gave a course on "Systematic theology;" Dr. Carol Miles (PLTS) taught "Preaching;" Dr. Alicia Vargas (PLTS) taught "Ministry in Context;" and Dr. Julia L. Fogg (CLU) taught "An Introduction to the New Testament.


We were also blessed to have staff from the ELCA Churchwide office. Rev. Brenda Smith gave a workshop on "Evangelism" and Bishop Mark Holmerud from the Sierra Pacific Synod gave a workshop on "Church Polity". In addition to taking classes, the TEEM students and faculty began each day with worship in the Chapel of the Cross.



On Friday, the residential students hosted the TEEM students and faculty for dinner and activities as a way to get to know each other.  It was a great opportunity for our entire community to bond and we are looking forward to doing more of these kinds of things during future sessions!   


Also recently, the TEEM Spring session was held at Lutheran Theological Center in Atlanta (LTCA) at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) from February 25 to March 1. Five of our TEEM students took classes and workshops there.



Rev. Brenda Smith from the ELCA facilitated a workshop on "Evangelism" and Rev. Dr. L. Wesley DeSouza taught "Ministry in Context". It was a very special experience to have Eduardo Hernandez, one of the students at LTCA teaching Spanish Ministry in Atlanta, bring his daughter Jennifer and his son to class to translate their father's lecture into English. We are deeply appreciative of this diversity in the classroom and the role of young people in facilitating theological education. Thanks to Familia Hernandez!



TEEM programs across the country continue to prepare the church with gifted leaders who are ready to serve God and meet the needs of the church. Thanks be to God for our own inspired and compassionate TEEM students and for the leaders and educators here and across the country who continue to be devoted to theological education!

Jane Strohl Receives New Call!

Dear Friends,


I have accepted the call to be pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Indiana, PA, part of the Northwest Pennsylvania Synod. I really understand now how calls happen, how the inner and outer work of the Spirit come together to show you where you are meant to be. Who would have thought one could feel so scared and so confident at the same time? I will be starting Holy Week. At my age, if you are going to return to parish ministry, you might as well jump into the deep end! The blessing of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is over, under, behind and before me. Wow! And for the record, I would not be able to make this venture if it weren't for what I learned and loved at PLTS.  


Thank you!



Annual Remember the Future Brunch
On March 8th, 35 members of PLTS' Remember the Future Society gathered in Sawyer Hall for their annual champagne brunch. The purposes of the brunch, besides being a convivial gathering, were to hear from new Dean Dr. Karen Bloomquist about her first months in office, to hear more from the PLTS Foundation about its activities, and to honor those persons who have died and whose planned gifts have come to the seminary since its last meeting. 


Those who were remembered were: Ruth Segerhammar (mother of PLTS alumnus Kemp); Pearl Rose (former secretary to retired northwest Bishop Lowell Knutson); Bruce Granicher (native of Berkeley); Dennis Mower (alum of PLTS); Arthur and Myrna Hewitt (of Trinity Lutheran Church in Brookings, Oregon); Valda and Adam Schaefer (parents of alum Marty and residents of San Francisco); Helene Zimmerman (of Christ Lutheran Church in Pacific Beach, San Diego); Reid and Jean Binder (of King of Kings Lutheran Church in Oceanside, California); David Yagow (of Concordia Seminary, Seminex - Seminary in Exile and Pacific Lutheran University); and Lena Woodmansee (of First Lutheran Church in Orland and Faith Lutheran Church of Chico, both in California).


All persons in the Remember the Future Society have indicated that they have included PLTS in their estate plans. Currently there are about 210 members of the Society. If you would like to become a member of Remember the Future, please contact Director of Seminary Relations, Brian Stein-Webber at 510-559-2711 or


Honoring 40 Years of Seminex - Enter Without Knocking!

By Sara Gross Samuelson, MDiv'14


On February 19th, over one hundred people from PLTS and many visitors from all over the country gathered to honor the stories of the brave and faithful students, faculty, and their families who were exiled from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis 40 years ago. They marched out, refusing to compromise their faith and trust in God that the Gospel is a living testament of Jesus Christ, which has room for exploration and interpretation. 
Note: To read about the history of Seminex, check out the worship bulletin here, which includes republication of a timeline and articles by Ev Kalin and Steve Harms.


Bishop Richard Jaech of the SW Washington Synod flew down from Tacoma to preach. The Rev. Dr. Everett Kalin presided. Pastors came from across the Bay Area and even from the Pacific Northwest to remember the occasion. Some of the people who came were there the day they walked out. Students who were on internship but came back to participate in this new and dangerous vocational venture called Seminex showed up eager to share their stories. Wives of professors who have since passed away, teachers from parish schools in St. Louis, people whose families were touched by the division - it seemed there was no lack for depth in the stories that showed up for that Wednesday chapel. Alongside these powerful and poignant witnesses were PLTS students who are soon to graduate into ministry in this church, some of whom discovered their regional assignments for first call that very same day! The breadth of experience and excitement and deep commitment to that faithful service of Jesus was astounding! The profound power of these stories as inspiration, hope, and commission for me and my classmates was very clear that day. We began service outside the chapel, with the word "exiled" painted over the doors. 

In the opening litany, we heard Rev. Dr. Kalin speaking gospel words of promise, calling us to enter, to come out of exile, and to claim new life. We entered worship singing the words to an old hymn "Thy Strong Word" and then continued the liturgy of confession and kyrie with a liturgy written by one of my classmates, Paul Kacynski. The juxtaposition of old and new was tangible, and we seemed to move through the simultaneous embracing and honoring of both through our liturgy. Old growth leads way to shoots of new life!


Following worship, we gathered for lunch in Sawyer with students scattered among guests and visitors. As I wandered the tables, I heard my classmates leaning in to former professors and wise and experienced pastors, hearing words of encouragement and promise. There were old friends there too, who came to reconnect, to hear stories that reminded them of their roots, of the things that had made them who they are today. Everyone who was witness to that moment 40 years ago stood to share brief words of observation and encouragement, and in the end, the question we all pondered and discusses was: what is the new shoot growing up in this church from the experience of Seminex? This question and commission plays off the words of Isaiah in chapter 40, a pivotal image and promise of new life for those who walked the journey of Seminex. It is one that will continue to be explored as the Spirit of Seminex project continues to grow. It is one that I don't quite know the answer to yet, but I feel empowered, hopeful, and encouraged to explore it after having witnessed this sharing of stories and honoring of faithfulness.

To read Bishop Jaech's sermon, click here


For PDF link to the celebration bulletin, click here.


Special thanks to Gary Sponholtz and Brock Klobe for producing videos of the worship service! Each video is about 20 minutes long.


More stories are being gathered and there are plans to unveil The Spirit of Seminex webpage later this spring - stay tuned! If you have a story you'd like to contribute, or know someone we can invite to participate in this project, please contact Sara Wilson in the Office of Seminary Relations at or by calling 510-559-2717. 
In Memoriam: Lena Nicolai Kees Ratassepp Woodmansee

Lena was born on October 6, 1919 in Niederdorla Muhlhausen, Germany and was baptized at St. Johannes Evangelical Lutheran Church. The family came to the United States in 1923, travelling on the Hanover to Ellis Island. They came across country to Orland, California, where the father worked on a farm. He died in 1935 from being gassed during World War I. The family moved near First Lutheran Church, which became a central part of their lives.


Lena married Roger Kees in 1938 and they had four children together. In 1951 she married Alfred Ratassepp and they had one child. In 1989 she married Bill Woodmansee and they moved to Chico and became part of Faith Lutheran Church there. Their mutual love of music brought them together as a piano-organ duet performing in over 100 retirement homes for ten years.


Lena began piano lessons before she entered first grade. It became her lifelong vocation, as she attended San Jose State College and taught piano lessons for 45 years in Orland and Willows. She was the organist and choir director at First Lutheran, and accompanied many groups. She was playing for the Sycamore Glen Melodiers when she experienced a massive stroke, dying early on October 22, 2013.

PLTS of CLU - Merger Celebration Day in Berkeley!

On February 12th, numerous students, faculty, staff, and guests came together for a festive worship service and lunch! Our becoming part of California Lutheran University has been a process over the past few years and is in response to a call and need to find a new and more sustainable way to provide theological education. We are excited to finally be living into our new reality - a synergistic relationship with Cal Lutheran, an ELCA University! 




CLU President Chris Kimball and several representatives from the Thousand Oaks campus joined PLTS Dean Karen Bloomquist along with a multitude of students, faculty, staff and visitors - which included Bishops Steve Talmage (Grand Canyon Synod), Mark Holmerud (Sierra Pacific Synod), Murray Finck (Pacifica Synod), and Kirby Unti (NW Washington). 


Thank you for your prayers and continued participation in the life of PLTS - now of CLU!

Alum Updates

Stephanie Luedtke, MCM '10: Stephanie is an AIM and began her new call as Director of Cross+Generational Ministry for the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA and Minister of Music at Memorial Lutheran Church, Glendale, WI in February.


Rev. Jan Peterson, TEEM '08: Jan began a new call as pastor at Augustana Lutheran in Omaha, NE in November 2012.


Geraldine King, M.Div '87: Geraldine has just retired from ministry, saying goodbye to her last parish, Holy Trinity in Weaverville, California.


Rev. Jeremy Fuerst, M.Div '10: Jeremy married Rev. Shannyn Magee on March 1, 2014. Jeremy continues to serve as Associate Pastor at St. Timothy's in Omaha, NE. Shannyn is a graduate of Luther Seminary and serves as Associate Pastor at St. John's Lutheran in Council Bluffs, Iowa.




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