Tuesday, June 30, 2009

President's Message: June 2009

President Philip D.W. Krey from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadephia (LTSP) is joined by LTSP Dean J. Paul Rajashekar to talk about the Asian Theological Summer Institute, and by Director of Graduate Studies David Grafton to talk about the seminary's advanced degree programs. President Krey also thanks those who have generously supported the seminary during the 2009 fiscal year, and especially those congregations and individuals who responded to Region 7 Seminary Sunday.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Luce Foundation Renews Grant to LTSP Asian Initiative

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a grant of $325,000 to The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). The grant is directed toward the seminary’s Asian initiative.

An initial grant of $75,000 from the Luce Foundation enabled the seminary to launch the Asian Theological Summer Institute (ATSI) in 2007. This annual event is designed to nurture the next generation of Asian and Asian-American scholars in theological education. The new grant ensures the continuation of ATSI for the next five years.

ATSI is a mentoring program that brings together doctoral level theology students who are Asian and Asian-American from the region’s major graduate schools for a week-long seminar led by distinguished Asian-American professors. The Institute serves to build a network of Asian-American scholars engaged in theological teaching and research. The Lutheran Seminary hosts the Institute during the Memorial Day week on the seminary campus in Philadelphia.

The Institute was originally conceived as part of LTSP’s commitment to promoting cultural diversity in theological scholarship. It was intended to complement the Black Church Studies and Latino Ministry programs of the seminary. Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar, Dean of LTSP and Luther D. Reed Professor of Systematic Theology, is the director of ATSI.

In the last three years, 45 Asian and Asian-American doctoral students from diverse racial, cultural and national backgrounds have benefited from the program. Doctoral students have come from various universities (Boston, Drew, Emery, Princeton, Vanderbilt and Yale) and seminaries (Catholic Theological Union; Fuller Theological Seminary; Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; LTSP; Westminster; Weston Jesuit, Boston; Union, NY, NY).

Guest faculty in the past included, Dr. R. S. Sugirtharajah (University of Birmingham, UK), Dr. Kwok Pui-lan (Episcopal Divinity School, MA), Dr. Anne Joh (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, IL). Dr. Eleazar Fernandez (United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, MN) Dr. Tat-siong Benny Liew (Pacific School of Religion (PSR), CA), Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian (LTSP), Dr. Fumitaka Matsuoka (PSR) and Dr. Andrew Sung Park (United Theological Seminary, OH).

“The new grant from the Luce Foundation,” says Dean Rajashekar, “enables ATSI to become a national program welcoming students from other regions of the country with an expanded guest faculty.” ATSI hopes to develop into a national network of Asian-American theological scholars. “The renewed grant from the Henry Luce Foundation is a recognition of LTSP’s role in promoting cultural diversity in theological education”,” according to Dr. Philip Krey, President of LTSP.

2009 Asian Theological Summer Institute at LTSP2009 ATSI faculty and student participants (click on the image to view/download high resolution version)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington awarded honorary doctoral degree by Lutheran Seminary

“Wow. Wow. Who would have ever thought it possible that a welfare recipient, high school dropout and teenage parent would be standing here today like this. It is through God’s grace and God’s grace alone that it is happening.”

Pennsylvania Sen. LeAnna M. Washington traced a troubled early life that included being a victim of domestic violence during remarks of gratitude as she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) during the school’s recent 145th commencement exercises in the city’s East Mt. Airy section. Admitting that she once thought God was not a part of her life, she said she eventually prayed daily for “direction on where to go,” admitting to herself and God that the “paths I had chosen for myself were not good ones and led nowhere.”

Sen. Washington said “the driving force of my life has been my children…to make sure that they not live a life like I lived…as victims going from place to place to place.” She said she has been determined that her children would “learn love and respect for themselves and others, and they have.” She added that her goals have included leaving paths for others to follow and reiterated a continuing commitment “to make a difference in people’s lives.” She urged her audience of seminary graduates to be, alums, faculty, staff and friends “to make sure you reach your hand out and to do it for the Lord…”

Washington, a self-described “mother, grandmother and great-grandmother,” was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate in 2005, representing the Fourth Senatorial District, after having served six consecutive terms representing the 200th Legislative District as a State Representative. The senator’s district includes Mt. Airy. She has been a political force in the region for more than two decades. Her efforts have included working on behalf of developing the Germantown Avenue and Wadsworth Avenue business corridors and on support for The Brossman Learning Center and William Allen Square on the LTSP campus.

In the Senate, Washington serves on numerous committees, including Aging and Youth and Public Health and Welfare. She’s a member of the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund, the Children’s Health Advisory Council, and the Governor’s Health Care Advisory Panel. She heads up an effort in the Senate to end illegal handgun trafficking and has co-sponsored community forums on violence prevention. Other legislative interests include funding for mass transit, improving services and conditions in nursing care facilities, kinship programs for children in foster care, education reform and economic development.

Washington holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University and has earned a Certificate from the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard University. She is the first woman elected to serve as Chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and the first woman Chair of Black Elected Officials of Philadelphia. Her civic service on boards includes Arcadia University, the Greater Philadelphia NAACP and the Sedgwick Cultural Center. Civic awards include Outstanding Community Leader (Philadelphia Tribune, 2008), Civic Leaders Award (Women Against Abuse, 2007), Distinguished Leadership Award (Community College of Philadelphia, 2004), and Sojourner Truth Award (Women’s Institute and Network, 1999).

Sen. Washington and LTSP President Philip D. W. Krey before commencement

Sen. Washington receiving the academic hood (left to right:
LTSP Dean J. Paul Rajashekar, Sen. Washington, LTSP Board Chair Dr. Addie Butler)

Sen. Washington speaking after receiving the Doctor of Divinity


State Rep. Cherelle Parker awarded honorary doctorate from Lutheran Seminary

“Like Langston Hughes said in his poem ‘Mother to Son,’ my life ain’t been no crystal stair…I’m not supposed to be standing here. It is nothing but the hand of God in my life that moved people to help create my village that made it possible.”

Those moving comments by State Rep. Cherelle Lesley Parker of the Commonwealth’s 200th Legislative District, came as she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree recently during the 145th commencement exercises of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP).

Parker, in thanking LTSP for the honor, told the seminary community of graduates-to-be, alums, faculty, staff, and friends, including mentors and family members, that she was brought up “by a teenage mother and grandparents, who needed to secure public assistance to raise me in an environment of drugs of any kind imaginable, [where] the odds were against my success.” She told the gathering she feels her mission as a political leader in today’s challenging time is to “close the gap between the haves and the have-nots” in part by remembering what it once was like to be a have-not. She closed by recalling a remark attributed to Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund, which she read from the writings of pioneering African American U.S. Representative Shirley Chisholm: “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living here on earth…” She said she believes her debt is “paid up” and she urged the seminary’s present and future leaders “to make sure yours is paid up too.”

Parker was elected in 2005 as the youngest African American woman ever elected to the Pennsylvania State House, representing some 60,000 citizens of her district, which covers portions of Northwest Philadelphia. Her committee assignments include Appropriations and Labor Relations. Parker’s other intensive efforts are on behalf of handgun control, energy conservation, and the special needs of youngsters whose parents are incarcerated. She has actively supported local and state economic development legislative initiatives, including renewal of the Germantown Avenue and Wadsworth Avenue business corridors, and The Brossman Learning Center and William Allen Square on the seminary campus.

A graduate of Lincoln University, Parker serves on numerous boards, including Lincoln’s and the National Congress of Black Women. She earned a Certificate from the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard University in 2008 and participated in the University of Virginia Emerging Political Leaders program in 2006. Lincoln named her an Outstanding Alumna in 2007, and she was named one of the Most Influential African Americans in Philadelphia the same year by The Philadelphia Tribune.

Rep. Parker and LTSP President Philip D.W. Krey before commencement

Rep. Parker receiving academic hood (left to right: LTSP President Philip D.W. Krey,
LTSP Dean J. Paul Rajashekar, Rep. Parker, LTSP Board Chair Dr. Addie Butler)

Rep. Parker speaking after receiving Doctor of Divinity degree