Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quiet on the LTSP campus

The day-after-Christmas east coast storm left the LTSP campus covered in a blanket of snow. The grounds and facilities crew came to campus early Monday morning and made sure the campus was safe for walkers and commuters, while the seminary itself was quiet as LTSP was closed from Christmas eve through Monday for the holiday. Click on the slide show to view all the photos on the LTSP Smugmug site.

Please remember as we bring the year of our Lord 2010 to a close that your gifts truly make a difference in the lives of our seminarians and the church. Each gift directly supports LTSP's mission and ministry, strengthening the seminary's ability to prepare ordained and lay leaders for engagement in the world. Please make an end-of-year Leadership Fund gift today.

We hope you has a Merry Christmas and we look forward to a happy, healthy and blessed New Year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New LTSP Scholarship Fund benefits Part Time Students

New scholarship assistance is available for eligible part time students at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) thanks to a generous gift from the Eby family. Known as the Eby Scholarships, the awards are available to several categories of students:

MDiv, MAR, and MAPL Students: Newly admitted and enrolled part time students in the MDiv, MAR, and MAPL programs are eligible for an Eby Scholarship. Newly admitted students who register for two or more courses will receive a grant of $600.00 for each of the first two semesters of study (for a total of $1200.00).

STM and DMin (Graduate) Students: The Eby Scholarship for Graduate Studies students in the STM and DMin programs are available to any new or current part-time matriculated Graduate student. Student qualification is determined by and through application available in the Graduate School offices. A $200.00 Grant will be awarded for one registered course, and $500.00 for two registered courses.

To learn more about the degree programs at LTSP, go to www.Ltsp.edu/degree-programs, or contact the Admissions Office, 215.248.7302 or Admissions@Ltsp.edu. For more information on Financial Aid, go to www.Ltsp.edu/financial-aid or contact Financial Aid Director Elizabeth Brunton, 215.248.6301 or ebrunton@Ltsp.edu.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Women's Retreat April 9: "Hands of Hope" with Special Early Registration Discount

Hands of Hope: Women's Retreat 2011

As women, we spend much of our days in service to others in our vocations of daily life and work. Hands are the symbol of service to others whether we are cooking, teaching, soothing, creating, planting, sharing, greeting, playing and so much more. In the midst of serving others, our hands bring hope to those we touch in our lives yet we rarely ponder their importance.
In 2011, we celebrate our hands of hope! Join us on Saturday, April 9, 2011 and celebrate your hands by using them in ways that bring new and renewed appreciation for God's gift of hands. And take advantage of our early registration discount - register online by December 31 and save 15%. It's a perfect gift for the women in your life - and for yourself!

Hands of Hope - special early registration discount

What’s new!

Hands of Hope Gallery
You are invited to bring your hand made creation - paintings, drawings, knitting, handwork, photographs, pottery, poetry, writings, crafts, and more - to place on display in our Hands of Hope Gallery. Please let us know when you register what handmade creation you will be bringing.

Anointing of HandsClosing worship will include "Anointing of Hands" so that you leave your day to return to your daily vocations ready again to use your hands of hope in serve to others.

Garden of Hope
Help to plant seeds in the seminary’s new "Garden of Hope."

Give a Gift of Hope! Share this day with a friend!

Learn more and register online: Ltsp.edu/restrefresh

Download a pdf Early Registration flyer to print and share: Hands of Hope Flyer

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Harold and Mary Anne Weiss receive Soli Deo Gloria Award

Allentown, PA, couple honored for exemplary leadership and service to the church and the seminary

The Rev. Dr. Harold S. Weiss '55 and Mary Anne Weiss have been presented the Soli Deo Gloria Award from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), honoring the LTSP 2010 Soli Deo Gloria Award Mary Anne Weiss and The Rev. Dr. Harold S. WeissAllentown, PA, couple for their decades of service to the Church and seminary.

The honor was conferred during the seminary’s December 5 Advent Vespers Dinner that annually pays tribute to donors and friends of the seminary. (in the photo - l to r - LTSP President Philip Krey; LTSP Board of Trustees chair The Rev. Dr. John Richter; Mary Anne Weiss; The Rev. Dr. Harold S. Weiss; LTSP Foundation Board chair Dr. Robert Blanck; Northeastern PA Synod, ELCA, Bishop Samuel Zeiser - click for publication quality version)

Dr. Weiss served for 13 years as Bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and for many years as a seminary trustee. Mary Anne Weiss has been involved in decades of volunteer and church service in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.

In expressing thanks for the award, Mary Anne Weiss encouraged support for the seminary, noting in her experience “that the congregations that do well have the best-trained pastors and best-prepared lay leaders.” She urged the laity in the audience to “take advantage of the opportunities before them to minister.”

Harold Weiss recalled the names of influential mentors, such as Professors Martin Heinecken and Ted Doberstein. He also acknowledged the late Wilson Touhsaent, who preceded him as synodical bishop, and others. “Thanks for this honor,” Weiss said. “It is meaningful to us beyond words. As the name of the award says, the glory for an award like this is really God’s alone. While the spotlight shines on us tonight I hope you will see this as an occasion where the floodlight shines on all around us who minister well and support the seminary and the church.”

“Hal” and Mary Anne Weiss met at St. Paul’s Union Church in Amityville, PA, where they taught Vacation Bible School during their college years. They were married June 11, 1955. The couple has two daughters, Rebecca Mary Bergman of North Oaks, MN, and Elizabeth Anne Wilson of King of Prussia, PA. They have six grandchildren.

Harold Weiss, who grew up in Boyertown, PA, graduated from Boyertown Area High School in 1948 and from Muhlenberg College Summa Cum Laude in 1952 with an AB degree in English. Having made the decision to become a Lutheran pastor, Weiss enrolled at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, receiving his MDiv degree in 1955. “My seminary years were good years,” he says. “I enjoyed great academic preparation from wonderful professors. I studied with lifelong colleagues and friends. The seminary has come a long way since those days.”

Mary Anne Weiss, who grew up in Yellow House, PA, graduated from Amity High School in Berks County in 1949. She received her BS in Home Economics from Hood College in Frederick, MD in 1953. She served two years as a dietitian at Reading, PA, Hospital until her marriage.

Pastor Weiss’s first call was to Toms Brook Lutheran Parish in Toms Brook, VA, where he served for six years. In 1961, he began an eight-year call to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fleetwood, PA. In 1969, he accepted an appointment as Assistant to the Bishop in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod. At the conclusion of Bishop Wilson Touhsaent’s service as bishop in that synod, Weiss was elected to the office in 1983. He served as bishop for 13 years, retiring in 1996 and was named Bishop Emeritus of the Synod.

Bishop Weiss served on the Board of Trustees of Muhlenberg College from 1983 to 1996, and holds the title of Life Trustee. In 1978 the College conferred upon him an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. He served on the Board of Trustees of Good Shepherd Home in Allentown from 1996 to 2005, and holds the title of Emeritus Trustee. In 1999 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Muhlenberg College’s Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, where he is still a member. From 1999 to 2009, he chaired that board.

Harold Weiss served two terms on LTSP’s Board of Trustees – from 1983 to 1987 and from 1991 to 1996.

Mary Anne Weiss over the years has served as a Sunday School and Catechetics teacher and Church Council member at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Allentown, and has been a part of Witness Ministry activities. At Redeemer Church, the couple sings together as members of the church choir. Mary Anne coordinates a Quilt Project, which has made 80 quilts for Lutheran World Relief over the past year.

While in Fleetwood, PA, Mary Anne was a Troop Leader for Campfire Girls. In Allentown, she was a Girl Scout Troop Leader and later chaired the neighborhood group of Scout leaders. In 2000, she was recognized for her 32 years as a volunteer with VIA, an agency, which serves people with disabilities. Today she continues her long-term community volunteer service with Allentown’s Ecumenical Food Bank.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas Blessings

early winter scenes on the LTSP campus

'Tis the season for joy, hope, and love. The faculty and staff at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) wish you and your family an abundance of each! Our seminary is blessed to have a community of people whose prayers and generosity support its daily ministry.

As we approach Christmas with anticipation, we hope that you will take a moment to reflect upon the impact you can have by supporting seminarians as they prepare to spread the Word to future generations. These students will be your community's next church leaders, ministering to you and your family at the most important moments in life. And they need your support.

Please remember that your gifts truly make a difference in the lives of our seminarians and the church. Each gift directly supports LTSP's mission and ministry, strengthening the seminary's ability to prepare ordained and lay leaders for engagement in the world. Please make a Leadership Fund gift today.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

To make a gift to the Leadership Fund online, please go to Ltsp.edu/give.

Benches added and dedicated on William Allen Plaza, part of annual Tree Lighting

Elise Rivers and other business leaders underwrote project designed by community craftsman Matt Sharaat; dedication part of annual community tree lighting

view the photo gallery

Once, the 146-year-old Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) gave the architectural impression of being “walled-off” from the Mt. Airy community it has historically and increasingly supported over the years.

Visually, that changed a year ago with the dedication of William Allen Plaza, a public square on Germantown Avenue in front of the seminary’s chapel. Seminary President Philip D. Krey says the inviting space was created to be a “gateway” to the neighborhood the school cherishes, serving also as a functional public space. The new plaza was part of a $3 million renovation undertaken by the seminary for its chapel. Community development group Mt. Airy USA suggested elements for the plaza’s design. Local officials secured $500,000 in state grants and $400,000 in city grants to cover the plaza’s construction. This summer, the plaza became the site of a Tuesday afternoon Farmer’s Market that attracted many community shoppers.

Now, several Mt. Airy business leaders, inspired by the initiative, have taken the project a step further by donating the creation and installation of three just-completed permanent benches to make the plaza even more accommodating to visitors. The benches, which “wrap around” three trees on the plaza, were fabricated by craftsman Matt Sharaat of Mt. Airy Custom Furniture, and dedicated December 3 as part of the tree lighting and caroling event held annually for the seminary and Mt. Airy community. (at right: William Allen Plaza with two of the new benches)

The plaza furniture project was the brainchild of Elise Rivers, who with her husband moved to Mt. Airy six years ago. Rivers explains she and her husband have both formed strong businesses, hers being Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy, originally located on the 500-block of East Sedgwick Street, which at the end of last March relocated to new quarters at 6782 Germantown Avenue. Her business is steadily growing, she says.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors,” she explains, “and when I saw the space I thought it is just what the community needs along Germantown Avenue. I have felt so grateful for this wonderful, diverse neighborhood in which to live and work and the community support which has made my business so successful, and I wanted to give something back." She adds she found further purpose in the project through her role as a board member of the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (MABID). Their mission in part is to add green space along Germantown Avenue between Cresheim Valley Road and Washington Lane. With the help of MABID she has already made improvements to the “pocket park” at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Carpenter Lane. Significant improvements to that park are in the works for next spring.

She explains she is hopeful that Germantown Avenue will eventually host additional green public spaces appropriate to the locale, and that she can be part of those projects as well.

In pondering the benches idea, Rivers contacted Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner and current MABID chair for advice and support. Weinstein said he told Rivers that the seminary has historically supported the Mt. Airy community in multiple ways.

“During the Germantown Avenue reconstruction, the seminary community really supported the diner, which was so negatively impacted for a time by the construction,” Weinstein said. The road excavation made access to the restaurant a real challenge for many months. Weinstein also praises the seminary for investing in the fledgling Valley Green Bank five years ago. The bank, which now has three locations, got its start across the street from the campus. In addition, Weinstein said, the seminary has energetically participated in Martin Luther King Day service projects and initiatives like cleanups along Chew Avenue.

Weinstein explains Elise Rivers became “hooked” on supporting the project when she learned more of the seminary’s history of community involvement. She met with Krey, then pledged a $4,000 gift toward the benches. Weinstein made a $1,000 supportive pledge and also contacted Robert Elfant of Elfant-Wissahickon Realtors, who pledged $1,000 toward the project. And Elfant contacted Edward Hillis, owner of Domus Inc., the Germantown general contractor recently involved in building a new Weaver’s Way Co-op store on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Hillis made a $1,000 gift. The Seminary also made a $2,000 gift toward the project. The $9,000 total made the project possible.

In addition to the successful Farmer’s Market, the initiative is generating a vision for other possible activities are well. Under discussion are ideas such as possible outdoor concerts and movies.

“I’ve long had a soft spot in my heart for the seminary,” Elfant explains in describing his motivation for supporting the project. “The seminary is physically such a big part of the community, and it plays a major role in how it serves the neighborhood.”

Krey has said, “I think we’re part of a mutual admiration society in Mt. Airy. We all help each other.”

Participating in the Friday evening ceremonies were LTSP President Philip Krey, bench donors Elise Rivers, Bob Elfant and Ken Weinstein, East Mt. Airy Neighbors President Dan Muroff, Mt. Airy USA Executive Director Anuj Gupta, LTSP Professor Katie Day, and Philadelphia City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller. Professor Day lead the prayer for the dedication of the benches, and Councilwoman Miller flipped the switch to light the plaza tree. Seminary Director of Music Ministries and Cantor Michael Krentz and seminarian Pam Peterson, playing the flute, lead the community in singing carols.

Photos of the dedication and plaza benches, including high resolution downloads, can be found online at www.Ltsp.edu/treelighting2010photos.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What in the World are Systematic Theologians Doing These Days? theme of December 7 Convocation

Faculty members of the Systematics Area at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) will present on the topic "What in the World are Systematic Theologians Doing These Days?" at the convocation scheduled for Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 11:30 am. The convocation will be presented in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center on the LTSP campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The convocation is free and open to the public.

Presenting on December 7 are faculty members Dr. John Hoffmeyer, Dean Paul Rajashekar and Dr. Nelson Rivera (left to right in photo).

The December 7 convocation is the latest on the LTSP theme for the 2010-2011 academic year, Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society. Future convocations will explore the topics "Teaching Theology in the Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by Systematicians," "Teaching the Practice of Ministry in the Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by the Integrative Area," and "Seminary Education: What the Church Expects" with Bishop Roy Riley, New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

For more information on LTSP and other seminary events and offerings, visit the seminary website at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Church History: Giving Public Theology Memory - Convocation video

The study of the churches' histories not only grounds our current experience in the traditions and stories of the past but also helps to find new applications for old solutions to issues facing the church today.Participants will hear about how the very latest historical research has an impact on ministry in today's church and world, and they will have opportunity to ask their teachers any question they want. Watch this convocation with LTSP church history faculty presenting on an area of special interest:

Prof. Kiran Sebastian: "Three Reasons Why Cyprian Will Change Your Ministry"

Prof. Philip Krey: "How Augustine Helps Me Interpret the Bible"

Prof. Timothy Wengert: "Philip Melanchthon's Enormous Ecumenical Error and How We Fixed It"

Prof. Jon Pahl: "Speaking Truth to (American) Power in Love"

Prof. Karl Krueger: "Don't Burn the Books of the Bible!"

Prof. David Grafton: "What Say You of Muhammad?"

To download the video podcast, click here, and to download the audio mp3 file, click here.

presented Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bible and Qur'ān - A Comparative Approach: Fall Forum Video

Christians and Muslims are shaped and guided by their Scriptures. Yet, the Bible and the Qur'an serve distinct roles and functions within each faith tradition. How do Christians and Muslims approach and interpret their texts for faith and life? This Fall Forum will investigate how Lutheran theological views and exegetical principles might compare and contrast with a variety of Muslim perspectives of their own Book of Faith. This was the theme of LTSP's 2010 Fall Forum, with keynotes by The Rev. Dr. David D. Grafton, Associate Professor, Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and Director of Graduate Studies, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

First Keynote: "Bible and Qur'ān as Scripture I - A Theological Comparative Approach Between Lutherans and Orthodox Islam"

Second Keynote: "Bible and Qur'ān as Scripture II - Lutheran Exegetical and Sunni Tafsīr Principles"

To download the video podcasts, click here and here; for the audio mp3 files, click here and here.

More on Fall Forum

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Prof. Kiran Sebastian presents Quodlibet - video

The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian, H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures and Director, Multicultural Mission Resource Center at LTSP, was the 2010 distinguished presenter for Quodlibet, where each year a member of the faculty at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia is presented with "any question whatsoever" and responds in this tradition-based, rigorous academic exercise. Watch his lively presentation:

To download the video podcast, click here, and for the audio mp3 file, click here.

Monday, November 01, 2010

"Church History: Giving Public Theology Memory" topic of Nov. 16 Convocation

The study of the histories of the church not only grounds our current experience in the traditions and stories of the past, but also helps to find new applications for old solutions to issues facing the church today. Participants will hear how the very latest historical research has an impact on ministry in today's church and world, and will have the opportunity to ask the presenters any question they want. Faculty members at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) will address the topic from a number of viewpoints at the convocation "Church History: Giving Public Theology Memory" on Tuesday, November 16, 2010. The convocation is scheduled for 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center on the seminary campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, and is free and open to the public.

The participating faculty members and their presentations addressing the topic will be:

- The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian: "Three Reasons Why Cyprian Will Change Your

- The Rev. Dr. Philip D. Krey: "How Augustine Helps Me Interpret the Bible"

- The Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Wengert: "Philip Melanchthon's Enormous Ecumenical Error and How We Fixed It"

- Dr. Jon Pahl: "Speaking Truth to (American) Power in Love"

- Dr. Karl Krueger: "Don't Burn the Books of the Bible!"

- The Rev. Dr. David D. Grafton: "What Say You of Muhammad?"

The November 16 convocation is the latest on the LTSP theme for the 2010-2011 academic year, Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society. Future convocations will explore the topics "Teaching Theology in the Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by Systematicians," "Teaching the Practice of Ministry in the Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by the Integrative Area," and "Seminary Education: What the Church Expects" with Bishop Roy Riley, New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

For more information on LTSP and other seminary events and offerings, visit the seminary website at www.Ltsp.edu.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

UTI 30th Anniversary - Celebration Highlights

The Urban Theological Institute of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia is celebrating its 30th Anniversary, and October 13-15 marked three days of special events including a Celebration of Africa American Sacred Music, including a special address by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, a Worship Celebration with guest preacher the Rev. Dr. Carolyn A. Knight, and a Gala Reception and Banquet with keynote speaker the Rev. Dr. James. A Forbes, Jr. Event proceeds benefit the Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., Chair in African American Studies.

The Rev. Dr. Carolyn A. Knight preaching:

Keynote speaker the Rev. Dr. James. A Forbes, Jr.:

View photo slide shows, find links to photo galleries, and links to give to the Wright Chair on the UTI 30th Anniversary website.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prof. Kiran Sebastian 2010 Distinguished Quodlibet Presenter

The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian, H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures and Director, Multicultural Mission Resource Center at LTSP, is the 2010 distinguished presenter for Quodlibet, where each year a member of the faculty at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia is presented with "any question whatsoever" and responds in this tradition-based, rigorous academic exercise. The Quodlibet answer session will be held Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center, on the seminary campus at 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The event is free and open to the public.

Following LTSP tradition, students, faculty, and others are invited to present any question whatsoever at a session on Tuesday, October 26, 11:30 am, also in Benbow Hall. While recognizing Quodlibet is an academic tradition, any question, on any topic, is accepted, and Prof. Sebastian will present his responses on November 2.

Friday, October 15, 2010

LTSP Students Awarded "Fund for Leaders" Scholarships

Three students at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) have been awarded full-tuition scholarships for the 2010-2011 academic year by The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Fund for Leaders in Mission. They are among 22 recipients enrolled in one of the eight ELCA seminaries.

LTSP's 2010-2011 recipients are:
+ Karen Sease, Columbia, SC, Fund for Leaders Churchwide Scholarship
+ Marc Stutzel, Astoria, NY, Fund for Leaders Churchwide Scholarship
+ Floyd Blair, Baltimore, MD

Now in its 10th year, the Fund for Leaders is an ELCA initiative to build an endowed scholarship resource to provide tuition assistance to qualified candidates studying at ELCA seminaries. When fully endowed, the fund's goal is to provide full-tuition assistance for every ELCA seminary student committed to a future in parish ministry.

For the first time the fund awarded more than $1 million in seminary tuition scholarships in a single year, said the Rev. Paul N. Hanson, director, ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission. He said the fund's value now exceeds $20 million.

In remarks to the scholarship recipients during an Oct. 1 banquet attended by members of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, seminary presidents, churchwide leaders and supporters of the Fund for Leaders, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, noted, "Tonight is really a celebration of all of you, the giftedness of this church and the work of the Spirit. On behalf of this church I thank all of you."

The presiding bishop told the ELCA leaders and scholarship recipients that he often hears members say they are ready to move forward with the church's mission and ministry. He said his sense of the ELCA is that it is "becoming a new church" being led by the Spirit "toward God's new promised future."

Cynthia S. Halverson, executive for ELCA Development Services and president of the ELCA Foundation, recognized organizations and individuals that have contributed significant gifts to the Fund for Leaders. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Minneapolis, contributed $1 million to help start the Fund for Leaders and gave another $1 million challenge grant, she said. The ELCA Mission Investment Fund contributed a $1.5 million challenge grant and awarded scholarships, she said.

In addition to the Fund for Leaders in Mission, LTSP students have many opportunities to receive scholarship funds to support their education as they prepare to be leaders in the church in today's world. Information is available online at www.Ltsp.edu/scholarships.

There is always a need for funds to support scholarships offered by LTSP. You can learn more, including how to give for this important need: www.Ltsp.edu/endowment-fund. Learn more about the Fund for Leaders in Mission on the ELCA website.

"Music is Prayer:" Reconsidering Secular Music

"Music is Prayer:" Reconsidering Secular Music, an article written by LTSP Professor Jon Pahl, was published in the October issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. The article addresses the work of "The Groove Daemons," a band made up of LTSP alums, students, faculty and friends, and their exploration of the theological, spiritual, and ethical implications of six secular tunes. The Groove Daemons add to seminary and community life by contributing to worship, workshops, fund raising, and community events.

Read the article online: The Journal of Lutheran Ethics, October 2010

A photo slide show of the Groove Daemons performing for a fund raising event, February 2010:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LTSP's Urban Theological Institute celebrating 30th Anniversary

The Urban Theological Institute (UTI) of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) will celebrate its 30th Anniversary with three special events October 13-15, 2010. The Institute developed from a dream of its founders to create a seminary program that would have academic integrity, offered in the evenings and on Saturdays to meet the needs of working pastors in the African American community. Its founders, the Rev. Dr. Andrew Willis and the late Rev. Dr. Randolph Jones, approached a number of institutions and, as Dr. Jones often said, "Others said no, and Lutheran said YES."

The celebration includes the following events

30th Anniversary Concert: A Celebration of African American Sacred Music, Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 7:00 pm (free-will offering), Sheila D. Booker, Coordinator, at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 5900 North 5th Street (5th St. & Nedro Ave.), Philadelphia, PA 19120.

30th Anniversary Worship Celebration, Thursday, October 14, 2010, 7:00 pm (free-will offering), The Rev. Dr. Carolyn A. Knight, Guest Preacher, at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, 25 West Johnson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144.

30th Anniversary Gala Banquet & Reception, Friday, October 16, 2010, 6:30 pm, The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Guest Speaker, at The Brossman Center, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119. The banquet has sold out - a report will follow the event.

The Rev. Dr. Quintin Robinson, Director of the UTI, notes that, "Even after 30 years, we want to cultivate a deeper understanding, appreciation of and respect for African American theological inquiry and religious history, enriching the church and the seminary community.” Much as UTI and LTSP have been enriched by the last 30 years of carrying out the vision of Drs. Jones and Willis.

More information about the Urban Theological Institute's 30th Anniversary, including details of the events, is available online: www.Ltsp.edu/UTI30.

(revised to reflect banquet sell-out)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Special Convocation 10/5: Theological Education in a Globalized World

Dr. Dietrich Werner, Coordinator of Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE) of the World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland, will present a special convocation on “Theological Education in a Globalized World” on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). The convocation is scheduled for 11:30 am, and will be held in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center, on the LTSP campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue, in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The convocation is co-sponsored by LTSP and the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia. The talk is open to the public; admission is free.

Dr. Werner has lectured around the world and written extensively on theological education in many contexts in the 21st century. According to The Christian Post, he told the fourth congress of the World Conference of Associations of Theological Institutions in 2008, "There is an immense need for increased efforts to promote ecumenical theological education in view of the enormous challenges posed by fast growing churches, grave inequalities in access to higher theological education, and the growing trends of religious fundamentalism and fragmentation."

Dr. Werner is a Protestant theologian from the Northelbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany, and was trained in missiology at the University of Bochum.

LTSP Celebrates start of the 147th Academic Year

LTSP celebrated the start of the 147th academic year with Opening Day worship, convocation and a picnic on Tuesday, September 7, 2010.

LTSP President The Rev. Dr. Philip D. Krey preached and presided at worship. Watch his sermon:

Faculty members The Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, who joined the faculty as Assistant Professor of Homiletics, and The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, member of the faculty who was awarded the position Associate Professor, Hebrew and Old Testament (with tenure), were installed, along with a number of new seminary staff. (in the photo below: l-r - worship assistant seminarian Rosemarie Doucette, LTSP President Philip Krey, LTSP Dean J. Paul. Rajashekar, Prof. Wiseman and Prof. Gafney. See the slide show below and online gallery for more photos)

The 2010 opening convocation highlights Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society from the perspective of LTSP graduates the Rev. Maritza Dolich and the Rev. Carlton Rodgers, along with LTSP Dean J. Paul Rajashekar and President Philip D. Krey. Both pastors lead congregations in the Philadelphia region. They address the theme through their experiences in their contexts as pastors in a world that continues to change.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Seminary instituting Grover C. and Irma Wright Scholarship Fund to support African American scholars

African American Lutheran church pioneer Grover Wright persuaded dozens of Black scholars to serve as Lutheran professional leaders

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) is establishing this fall the Grover C. and Irma S. Wright Scholarship Fund in support of African American Lutheran students seeking to become rostered professional leaders in the church. The inauguration of the scholarship was celebrated at a special signing ceremony at LTSP on August 27 (see the photo show at the end of this entry for photos of the event).

The late Dr. Grover C. Wright, a civil rights pioneer active in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, worked many years as associate director for leadership development for the Lutheran Church in America’s (LCA) Division for Professional Leadership (DPL). He died in 1997 at the age of 80.

The Wright Scholarship Fund is being established with a $75,000 gift made possible through proceeds from the dissolution of the Black Lutheran Community Development Corporation (BLCDC), a non-profit enterprise founded in 1987 by Grover Wright. BLCDC for about 20 years supported single parent families in finding low-income, affordable housing, and offered services to support and assist such families to become self-sufficient. The enterprise developed several housing units in Philadelphia. After her husband’s death, Irma S. Wright chaired BLCDC and worked diligently to carry on its purpose until it could no longer be sustained, and she decided the scholarship would be an appropriate initiative for carrying on the couple’s legacy. (at right: Irma S. Wright at the signing ceremony. Photo courtesy Jesse Brown, jessebrown.com)

“Grover Wright was a man I very much admired,” says the Rev. Dr. Louis Almen, the DPL executive director who recruited Wright to his national church post in Philadelphia in 1972. “He was creative and winsome, a mentor and encourager to many, many dozens of African Americans from all over the country that he met and came to know, many of whom he persuaded to become pastors and professional leaders in the church.”

Almen explains that he first met Wright in September 1967 when the LCA, a predecessor denomination to the current Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), convened a meeting that included African American leaders to listen to the issues concerning them and to discern responsive directions the church could take. “I was impressed with him right away,” Almen said. “He was very bright and had a compassionate, persuasive personality.” Out of that meeting, led by then LCA President Franklin Clark Fry, came a DPL initiative aimed at attracting 100 students to study to become professional church leaders in the next decade, Almen recalls. And it was that initiative, and their 1967 meeting, that led Almen to eventually recruit Wright to LCA service.

Wright was a Pullman railroad porter during his early career. In that capacity, he learned from and contributed significantly to the labor union movement, working closely with A. Philip Randolph, a pioneering African American union leader who headed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. “The legacy of A Philip Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters are cornerstones in African American history,” says Sister Cecilia Wilson, a Lutheran Deaconess and 1985 LTSP graduate who is chairing the scholarship initiative. “Mr. Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters were key shapers in civil rights history.” She notes that Wright’s Christian faith deepened greatly during the time he worked with railroad passengers, including military personnel.

In 1968, Pastor Edward Dixon persuaded Wright to become an associate in ministry at Christ Lutheran Church in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion section. There, Wright directed Christ Parish House, a community outreach initiative that included hosting a cooperative nursery school. Wright was vigorously involved in youth work, and during his lifetime received several honors from the Boy Scouts of America.

Four years later, Almen tracked Wright down to work as an executive in the LCA’s leadership initiative to recruit African Americans. Once engaged as a DPL executive, Wright traveled all over the country to meet with prospects, often visiting Lutheran colleges. “He would visit them and sometimes telephone them,” Almen recalls. “He was like a compassionate great uncle, always sincerely concerned about them and their families. He helped them to see their potential, and he had a way of supporting them to get past their doubts. He really was a pioneer in the church in the kind of work that he did.” Wright’s memorable smile, sense of humor and hearty laugh helped to ingratiate him with anyone he met.

“I was a ‘pipeliner’ in the Lutheran Church,” says the Rev. Dr. Richard N. Stewart, associate professor for communications and parish administration at LTSP. “So I wasn’t recruited by Grover the way others were – Sherman Hicks and Jim Echols would be examples. [Echols, former LTSP Dean, is currently president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.] But he had a tremendous inspirational influence on me.” Stewart recalls that Wright worked closely with the Rev. Dr. Massie Kennard, an LCA executive in New York City, to overcome the financial constraints that sometimes served as barriers to education for the individuals Wright recruited.

Wright’s widow, the former Irma Palmer, who survives and lives in Philadelphia, was constantly at Wright’s side, affording crucial administrative support and advice and filling a teacher and mentor role. In addition to serving as president of BLCDC, Irma Wright worked with the Urban League, first as a volunteer, then later as an employed administrator, ordering and keeping count of supplies, and tracking income and expenses, among other responsibilities.

During his lifetime, Grover Wright was recipient of a score or more of honors and awards, including receiving a Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary Degree from Muhlenberg College in 1985. His volunteer service with many organizations included the executive board of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA for a time.

Irma Wright has been “greatly supportive” of the Wright Scholarship initiative, Sister Cecilia notes. Mrs. Wright, Sister Cecilia, and the Rev. Dan Shook ’59, have worked together and with others including family and friends to organize the scholarship fund. Shook first met and worked with Wright in the 1960s when Wright served Christ Church. The two men became close friends in the 1980s, and Shook in several ways supported Wright in the organizing of BLCDC. “Grover was into many things and was remarkably gifted,” Shook recalls.

A celebration of thanksgiving for the scholarship, including worship, is in the planning stages for this fall, with Dr. Addie Butler, a member of LTSP's Board of Trustees, and Dr. Stewart as co-chairs. Gifts to the Grover C. and Irma S. Wright Scholarship Fund are welcome at any time. Checks can be sent to the LTSP Foundation, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119 - please reference the Wright Scholarship Fund on the memo line. Or gifts can be made online at www.Ltsp.edu/give.

Images from the signing event:

Visit the signing event photo gallery online

Many thanks to Jesse Brown for providing photos as indicated in the gallery.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lazareth Lecture canceled


Ed Pawlowski, the mayor of Allentown, PA, will be the distinguished presenter of the 2010 Lazareth Lecture in Theology and Ethics on Tuesday, September 28 at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). The lecture is scheduled for 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center, on the seminary's campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Mayor Pawlowski was first elected to his post in Allentown in 2005, and was reelected in 2009. An Allentown resident for over a decade, Mayor Pawlowski has been a leader in improving and rebuilding the city, working to "build a better Allentown" by making City Hall a catalyst for change. His background is in urban planning and public policy, with a master's degree from the University of Illinois. He earned a bachelor's degree from Moody Bible Institute, Chicago.

The annual William Lazareth Lecture in Theology and Ethics is presented in honor of the late Rev. Dr. William Lazareth (BD 1953), the Hagan Professor of Systematic Theology and dean of the faculty at LTSP for over 20 years. Prof. Lazareth served the church and society in a number of roles, including leadership roles nationally and internationally. He was an advocate for greater understanding through theological dialogue across the world's denominations, as well as an advocate for the poor.

This year's lecture, while centering on Theology and Ethics, is part of the seminary's series of convocation lectures addressing the theme Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society. Upcoming lectures include “Theological Education in a Globalized World,” presented by Dr. Detrich Werner, World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland on October 5; "Teaching Bible in the Seminary Curriculum: A symposium by the Biblical Area" on October 12; Teaching Church History in the Seminary Curriculum: A symposium by Church Historians, November 16; "Teaching Theology in the Seminary Curriculum: A symposium by Systematicians" on December 7; and "Teaching the Practice of Ministry in the Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by the Integrative Area" on February 15, 2011.

Monday, August 23, 2010

LTSP Begins 147th Academic Year Tuesday, September 7

Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society is the theme for the 147th academic year at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), which begins with opening day worship and convocation on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 on the seminary campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. Opening worship is at 9:30 am in the seminary chapel, followed by the convocation at 11:15 am in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center. Both are open to the public.

Opening convocation highlights Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society from the perspective of LTSP graduates the Rev. Maritza Dolich, the Rev. Matt Cimorelli, and the Rev. Carlton Rodgers. All are pastors in congregations in the Philadelphia region. They will address the theme through their experiences in their contexts as pastors in a world that continues to change.

About the theme:

During the past few decades, theological education has been undergoing change. The change is more perceptible with regard to the gender, age, and racial/ethnic composition of faculty, staff, and students. Patterns of seminary attendance, academic schedule, and the structure of the curricula are undergoing change. With the advent of computers, Internet, and modern technology, new and creative modes of delivery of education have been developed. Students have exhibited diverse motivations and vocational aspirations. Degrees have multiplied, theological disciplines have become specialized, and sources of financial support have shifted. The cost of theological education, dwindling support from denominations, debt load of students, pressure to reduce duration requirements, all raise serious questions about the quality and sustainability of seminary education over the long haul.

These changes to some extent reflect societal changes that have impacted the church. The social location of the church and the long-standing privileges the culture had extended to Christian churches have now diminished. The religious landscape of our society has undergone change. The face of Christianity too has changed due to immigration and migration of people. Mainline denominations have experienced significant decline in membership. Denominations and denominational identity have weakened. In short, the ecology of theological education has changed and will experience further changes. Much has changed and more changes are on the way!

The theme for 20010-2011 academic year is focused on curricular implications of the changes underway in theological education.

In addition to Opening Convocation, LTSP will address the theme at a number of convocations and special events. Events through early November include:

Sept. 21: William H. Lazareth Lecture on Theology and Ethics: Ed Pawlowski, Mayor of Allentown, Pennsylvania

Oct. 5: Special Convocation sponsored by the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia: “Theological Education in a Globalized World” Dr. Detrich Werner, World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland

Oct. 12: Teaching Bible in the Seminary Curriculum: Biblical Area faculty

Oct. 13-15 30th Anniversary Celebrations of the Urban Theological Institute of LTSP: see www.Ltsp.edu/UTI30 for details

Oct. 26: Quodlibit ("any question whatsoever"): question session

Nov. 2: Quodlibit: Presentation by Distinguished Professor Jayakiran Sebastian

All convocation events are free and open to the public; see www.Ltsp.edu/UTI30 for details on UTI 30th Anniversary event times and locations.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

James Scott to lead Intersections Institute

The Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Seminaries announced that Mr. James H. Scott of Chester Springs, PA, has accepted the position as Director of Intersections Institute, a joint educational program of two Lutheran seminaries in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Launched two years ago, the Institute offers degree and professional certificate courses for professional staff of faith-based social ministry organizations, and for students who aspire to serve in a wide range of arenas at the intersection of church and world. This enterprising new program provides a combination of practical nonprofit managerial and leadership skills with graduate theological training and orientation to the unique mission and culture of faith-based organizations. The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) offers a Master’s in Public Leadership degree, and a professional Certificate in Leadership of Faith-Based Organizations course of studies is conducted by the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (LTSG).

James Scott brings a rich professional background and extensive experience in service, educational and entrepreneurial enterprises to the Institute’s directorship. Holding degrees from Villanova University (Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and Master of Arts) and Washington University (MBA), Scott was the Executive Director of portfolio Strategies with Morgan Stanley Investment prior to his retirement from that post in 2007. Previously, he served with the U.S. Peace Corps, was Treasurer of Amherst College, Vice President, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer for Texas Utilities Company in Dallas, and was a corporate banking officer. In the late 1970’s, Scott was granted a leave of absence from his financial executive position to serve as a White House Fellow and a member of the staff of President Jimmy Carter. He currently serves as a trustee for Gettysburg College and the University of Texas at Austin, and is a member of the board of directors and chair of the investment committee for Thrivent Financial Services for Lutherans, a Fortune-500 financial service organization. In recent years, he has engaged in graduate school teaching at Villanova and the University of Delaware in the areas of corporate strategy and political and economic analysis. He has written in those areas, and is currently writing creative non-fiction as well. Scott and his wife are the parents of four children, and are involved in many community groups and activities.

In accepting the position with Intersections Institute, Mr. Scott quoted Psalm 146, Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, expressing “the joy of my selection as Director of Intersections. While at the time in the company of the distinguished social ministry organization leaders and noted theologians who made this selection possible, I was speechless as well as thankful. I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ may nourish me and my supportive wife as I work to help our blessed and dedicated partners achieve the ambitious goals of the Institute."

Scott succeeds Dr. Christy Lohr, who directed the Institute through its first year until accepting a position at Duke University in June.

Presidents Philip Krey of Philadelphia and Michael Cooper-White of Gettysburg shared their enthusiasm for the new director in a joint statement: “In James Scott we found that rare combination of a superb leader — in business, education, the Church and the public arena as well — and a genuine servant whose faith permeates every aspect of his life. We are confident that under his capable leadership, the Institute will flourish as it provides quality educational programs to current and future leaders in a wide variety of faith-based organizations.” The Rev. Dr. Katie Day, The Charles A. Scheiren Professor, Church and Society at LTSP, added her perspective as a senior faculty member: "As someone who teaches in the program (Ethics of Public Leadership, LTSP) I am very much looking forward to working with James Scott. He brings a vision of faith-based leadership which has been forged through his own experience and corresponds precisely with the goals and concerns of the students the Intersections Institute is attracting. Jim is uniquely gifted to take the program to the next level, which will deepen the partnership between Gettysburg and Philadelphia seminaries as well as grow an already strong program into an excellent one."


More information is available at the Intersections Institute website: www.intersectionsinstitute.org.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LTSP Appoints Vice President for Advancement/Foundation Executive Director

The Rev. John V. Puotinen has been appointed as Vice President for Advancement of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) and Executive Director of the LTSP Foundation, according to the Rev. Dr. Philip D.W. Krey, seminary and foundation president. Pastor Puotinen was selected following a nationwide search.

Pr. Puotinen comes to LTSP from the University of Dubuque/Dubuque Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, where he has served as Senior Vice President of Development since 2005. He led the university through the concluding stages of a ten year capital campaign that concluded in 2008 with a record $128 million in gifts from over 4,700 donors.

Before joining the University of Dubuque, Pr. Puotinen served as Vice President of the Foundation of Lutheran Life Communities, Arlington Heights, Illinois, a provider of services in Greater Chicago, along with development positions at Luther Manor, Milwaukee,Wisconsin, and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, and was an investment executive with Piper, Jaffray, Inc. He was developer and founder of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Libertyville, Illinois. He is a pastor on the roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Pr. Puotinen received a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, and a bachelor's degree from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. He will begin his service at LTSP on August 1, 2010.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Faith on the Avenue: Prof. Katie Day

Faith on the Avenue, an ongoing research study by LTSP's the Rev. Dr. Katie Day, Charles A. Scheiren Professor of Church and Society, is the multimedia feature of the online journal Faith & Leadership from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. The offering is an audio presentation with slide show by Prof. Day talking about the project, which looks at the multitude of congregations along the 8.5 mile road, Germantown Avenue, which passes the seminary in Mt. Airy.

The project, led by Prof. Day with photography by Edd Conboy and research by a number of contributors, is funded primarily by a grant from the Louisville Institute.

The Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft, Sr., joining Lutheran Seminary faculty

The Rev. Wayne E. Croft, Sr., DMin, PhD, will be joining the faculty of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) beginning with the Spring 2011 semester, according to LTSP President the Rev. Dr. Philip D.W. Krey. Dr. Croft is pastor of The Church of the Redeemer Baptist in South Philadelphia, and is well known as a preacher and teacher. He served as one of the preachers for the 2010 Preaching with Power series, sponsored by LTSP's Urban Theological Institute. Dr. Croft will join the seminary faculty as the Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr. Associate Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics in African American Studies, as well as remaining pastor at The Church of the Redeemer. He has served as Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University.

Dr. Croft earned a Doctor of Ministry, with distinction, Master of Philosophy, and Doctor of Philosophy from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. His doctoral dissertation was entitled “You Jes’ Wait A Little: A Comparison of the Motif of Hope in African American Preaching During the Slave and Post-Civil War Periods.” He holds a Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary), a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Trinity College, and an Associates degree from Pinebrook Junior College.

Pastor of The Church of the Redeemer Baptist since June 1993, Dr. Croft believes that the academy, the pulpit, and the community need to be connected, and he plans to remain in the pulpit at Redeemer as he teaches at LTSP to maintain that connection. During his tenure at Redeemer the membership has grown from 177 to over 1,900. Dr. Croft serves as founder of the Redeemer Renaissance Community Development Corporation, Dean of the Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association, is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and has been inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr., Board of Preachers of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Croft's sermons, along with the article What Does it Mean to Preach Biblically Today (Winter 2003), have been published in The African American Pulpit, and he has also contributed to the book “From One Brother to Another: Voices of African-American Men, Volume II" (Judson Press).

Homiletics Professor Joins LTSP Faculty

The Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman has joined the faculty of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) as Assistant Professor of Homiletics. Her appointment began July 1.

Prof. Wiseman comes to LTSP from Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, NC, where she held the position of Associate Professor of Ministerial Studies, and also directed Hood's Supervised MInistry program and was coordinator of United Methodist Studies. She is a member of the American Academy of Religion, Academy of Homiletics, Society of Biblical Literature and Association of Theological Field Educators.

Prof. Wiseman was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Liturgical Studies with concentration in Preaching and Worship, with additional specializations/extensive work in Postmodern/Emergent Worship, Liturgy, and Worship Space and Design, from Drew University in 2006, receiving the Dean's Honor Award as the outstanding student of the class. Her dissertation topic was "Grace Space: The Creation of Worship Space for the Postmodern/Emerging Church."

She also holds a Master of Philosophy from Drew (2005), Master of Divinity (with honors) from St. Paul School of Theology, Kansas CIty, MO (1996) and Bachelor of Arts in History from Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX (1985).

Elder/Full Member of the Kansas East Conference of the United Methodist Church, 1996, Prof. Wiseman served local churches in Kansas and New Jersey as senior pastor for 15 years.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

LTSP Professor receives Honorary Degree

The Rev. Dr. Timothy WengertThe Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Wengert, Ministerium of Pennsylvania Professor, Reformation History at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, delivered the baccalaureate sermon at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis., and received an honorary doctorate of divinity.

Pastor Wengert teaches and does research in Reformation History and the Lutheran Confessions. In 1981 he discovered and published notes on two of Martin Luther's sermons from 1520. He is associate editor of the Lutheran Quarterly and has edited two volumes of essays on Martin Luther by scholars whose contributions first appeared in the journal: “Harvesting Martin Luther's Reflections on Theology, Church and Ethics” and “The Pastoral Luther: Essays in Luther's Practical Theology.” He served on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)-United Methodist dialogue, on the ELCA Task Force for Studies in Sexuality, and as co-chair of the Commission of the World Mennonite Conference and the Lutheran World Federation.

In February 2000, the city of Bretten, Germany, awarded him the Melanchthon Prize for contributions to the field of Reformation scholarship, especially for his book on Philip Melanchthon and Erasmus. This is the first time that the prize, awarded every three years, was given to an American.

Pastor Wengert earned a BA in sociology and a MA from the University of Michigan, a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary of St. Paul, Minn., and a PhD in religion from Duke University. He is married to the Rev. Ingrid Fath, and has two grown children by his late wife Barbara. He lives in Riverton, N.J.

Carthage is a four-year, liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, located in Kenosha, Wis.

(from a Carthage College release 6/8/2010)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sara Calderon of LTSP to receive community service award

(6/8/10, updated with new photo; updated below to include remarks prepared by LTSP Prof. Jon Pahl for the event 6/4/10)

Sara Calderon, a volunteer leader in the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network who serves on the Board of the Lutheran Settlement House in Philadelphia, has been elected to receive the Congregational Beacon Award from the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement of Philadelphia. The award will be conferred at the NIM annual assembly at 7 p.m. Thursday June 3 at the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia’s West Mt. Airy section. (at right: Sara Calderon receiving the Congregational Beacon Award from Rabbi George Stern, NIM Executive Director. Photo courtesy NIM/George Stern)

Professionally, Calderon is administrative assistant for the Graduate School at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), one of eight professional schools certified by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to train a variety of professional leaders for church service, including pastors. She also coordinates student housing for the seminary. In the past she has fulfilled many administrative functions for the seminary, including service to its Advancement Office, now known as the LTSP Foundation, and coordinating hospitality. Calderon has been on seminary staff for about 15 years.

Sara Calderon provides key leadership at Christ Ascension Lutheran Church in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill where she has been involved in recruiting volunteers to be hosts for the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network. The network provides host sites, including congregations, synagogues and mosques to house disadvantaged families who desperately need housing. LTSP is among many host sites for the initiative, hosting four or five families at a time during the summer. During the Christmas shopping season, Calderon works closely with the Chestnut Hill 10,000 Villages store to conduct a shopping fundraiser. The fundraiser annually provides 15 percent of the proceeds to the Hospitality Network.

As a member of the Board for Lutheran Settlement House in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood, Calderon is a key volunteer in support of a shelter for homeless persons and a domestic violence hotline, among many forms of ministry offered by Settlement House, a certified social ministry organization of the ELCA.

Calderon was nominated for the award by the seminary and her congregation. “I am really honored to receive this award,” Calderon says. “But I must tell you I am just a small part of an overall tapestry of volunteers who make a difference with this kind of service.”

Sara Calderon and her spouse, the Rev. Dr. Nelson Rivera, are parents of four children and live in Mt. Airy. Rivera is the Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Hispanic Ministry at the seminary, where he has been a faculty member since 1993. The couple’s four children are Noelia, a junior at Boston University majoring in Education; Paula, an artist studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Celeste, an 8th grader at Masterman High School in Philadelphia, and Laura, a 7th grader at Our Mother of Consolation Parish School in Chestnut Hill.

An Ode to Sara Calderón by Prof. Jon Pahl prepared for the Congregational Beacon Award:

Puerto Rico's first published female poet, Maria Bibiana Benitez Constanza, offered the following words around about 1800 or so in regard to the honors that come to us with age, in a poem entitled A La Vejez:

!Adios los pasados dias, de mi dulce juventud;
idos con la multitud de glorias que fueron mias!

To translate: The poem is called "To Old Age." And a rough translation is:

Farewell, the past few days of my sweet youth!
Gone with the crowd of glory that was mine!

Tonight, we have occasion to celebrate a person whose life belies this bleak verse, whose glory is vibrant, alive, and very much before her - because it is the glory found in compassionate caring for a living community.

Sara Eneida Calderón was born in the small town of Cataño, a beautiful place next to the San Juan Bay, across from Old San Juan, the historic city. Her father is Emilio Calderón, an M.D. in general practice, a poet (he published some 3 poetry books), and an athlete. Sara's mother is Crucita Rosado, who was an administrative assistant in the local Puerto Rican Legislature. Sara is their only child.

Sara was educated from 1st to 12th grade in Catholic Schools; her high school was in Old San Juan - she would take the ferry boat across San Juan Bay every school day to get to San Agustín High School. Sara did 3 years of study at the University of Puerto Rico in Philosophy, and then transferred to Temple University here in Philly where she finished her B.A. While at Temple she studied with the well-known Jewish philosopher Joseph Margolis, among others. Sara had transferred to Temple when her husband Nelson Rivera came to Philly to pursue his MDiv studies at LTSP.

From 1988-1989, Sara completed course work for a Masters in Comparative Literature, but chose to forego completing her thesis when Noelia was born. Since the birth of Noelia Patricia, Nelson and Sara have welcomed three other beautiful girls - now young women - into the world: Paula Sofia, Celeste Lucia, and Laura Mercedes. Nelson and Sara have been married for 27 years.

In her spare time (!) Sara loves to read good literature - she's currently reading the late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaños' massive novel "2666." She also continues to enjoy reading philosophy - Derrida is one of her favorites; and (as many of us have learned to our culinary delight) Sara also loves gourmet cooking.

Sara has always been very active in the church; she is currently a member of Christ Ascension Lutheran Church in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and serves on the congregational council. She is on the Board of Directors and plays a very active role in Lutheran Settlement House. For years, Sara has collaborated with the Interfaith Hospitality Network. She's a volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages, both in Northwest Philadelphia.

And here's what our colleague, David Grafton, had to say about Sara: "I can honestly say that without Sara's dedication and hard work done with gracefulness and love the Graduate School and all of Seminary Student Housing would be mired in complete chaos! She has the wonderful gift of responding to the needs and requests of students, staff and faculty with poise - even when such a response is not always deserved. She is truly a disciple of Christ, serving as "God's hands" in our community."

And here's an anecdote from Nelson: When Sara was a student at Temple, he reports, the theologian Hans Küng came for a lecture there. It so happened that Sara had read his book "On Being a Christian" and liked it very much, so she went to the lecture and treated Hans Kung like a star, taking his picture, and asking for his autograph - which she received, and would be happy to show to anyone since she now has it in her seminary office!

And finally, to wrap things up, here is what Sara's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Martin Lohrmann, had to say about Sara:

As a graduate student at the Lutheran Seminary, I came to know Sara as a reliable and helpful person in the office who helped me navigate my way through a new program.
 As someone who has worshiped at Christ Ascension Lutheran Church for some years now, I have long been moved by her commitment to the faith-life of the congregation and by her service to the wider community, which grows out of that faith.
 Now, as her pastor at Christ Ascension, I can say that it is an absolute joy to lead with her in church. She is on the church council, assists in worship, teaches children's Sunday School, and contributes in many other ways. We often pray that our communities are blessed in order to be a blessing to others. In Sara, that prayer has been fulfilled! Congratulations, Sara, and God's richest blessings to you!

Indeed, congratulations, Sara - and thank you from all of us for all you do!

(photos of the event to follow)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

John D. Newpher: Parish pastor, one-time LTSP president has died

PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 25, 2010) – The Rev. Dr. John D. Newpher, 90, pastor of five Pennsylvania congregations over a 40-year ministry career and one-time president of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), died Saturday morning at Springhouse Estates in Lower Gwynedd, PA, after a brief illness. He was a resident of Ambler, PA.

Newpher was LTSP president from 1971 to 1975, and “brought both scholarship and strong parish experience” to the task of being president, recalls the Rev. Dr. Robert J. Hughes, who was himself president at LTSP during the 1990s and taught homiletics (preaching) at the school for many years. “As a preacher he always had strong content and was well prepared.”

“Dr. Newpher was president of the seminary during a time of renewed commitment to the present campus location in Philadelphia’s East Mt. Airy section,” recalls Dr. Robert Blanck, who was vice chair of the LTSP Board of Trustees during Newpher’s tenure. “Before he became president, the seminary had contemplated establishing a campus in West Philadelphia with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and it had also later considered consolidating with Philadelphia Divinity School, a seminary of the Episcopal Church. After considerable discussions, neither step was taken,” Blanck recalls. “So the focus shifted to the 14-acre Mt. Airy campus. While he was president, the Hagan Administration Building was expanded, and improvements to faculty housing, which had been deferred, were made.” It was a strong financial period for the school, he noted.

In 1975, according to the Seminary Bulletin, Newpher announced his desire to return to parish ministry, and subsequently became pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Slatington, PA, where he served 10 years, retiring in 1985.

John Newpher was born March 28, 1920, and was a native of Reading, PA. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College in 1942, a Bachelor of Divinity from LTSP in 1945, a Master of Sacred Theology from LTSP in 1946, and a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1958 from Temple University.

Ordained in 1945 into the United Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor body to the current Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Newpher first served a two-point parish, Salem in Audenried and St. Paul in Beaver Meadows, both in Pennsylvania, from 1946 to 1948.

Other calls were to Christ Lutheran Church, Camden, NJ (1948-1953); Ascension Lutheran Church, Philadelphia (1953-1961), and Christ Lutheran Church, Oreland, PA (1961-1971), prior to becoming seminary president. While serving at Ascension Church, located on the seminary campus, “Dr. Newpher was the pastor to many of the faculty members who taught me at the seminary,” Hughes remembers. Hughes was a PhD student at Princeton Seminary during Newpher’s seminary presidency.

Along with his widow, the former Suzanne Van Arsdale of DuBois, PA, Newpher was a member of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church in Ambler, PA. He had a strong interest in social ministry. For 10 years Newpher served on two boards for Ken Crest, a Lutheran social ministry organization based in Plymouth Meeting, PA, serving children and adults in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut with intellectual disabilities and autism. He served on the KenCrest Services Board from October, 1997 to March, 2003. He served on the KenCrest Centers Board from November, 1991 to November, 1997.

Newpher is the author of What is the Gospel? (Lutheran Church Press, 1964), and On a Ship with Paul, a children’s teacher resources guide (Parish Life Press, 1976).

Surviving are four children from a first marriage with former wife, Gladys: John of Sheffield, VT; Peter of Westport, WA; Valerie Newpher of Upper Darby, PA; and Pamela Macon of Whitehall, MD; also three stepchildren, Karen Vickter of Huntingdon Valley, PA; Sandra O’Brien of East Stroudsburg, PA, and Louis Eble of Robeling, NJ.

Funeral services will be at 11 am Thursday, May 27 at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, 411 Susquehanna Road in Ambler. A visitation hour will be conducted from 10 to 11 am, with a reception at the church following the service. Memorial gifts may be made to Ken Crest, 502 West Germantown Pike, Suite 200, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462, or to the Social Ministry Committee of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church. No flowers please.

(updated 5/25/10 10 pm with name corrections, 5/26/10 with updated KenCrest information)