Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UTI Public Lecture Series: Professor Eric Williams on Bishop OT Jones, Jr.

The first lecture of LTSP's Urban Theological Institute (UTI) Public Lecture Series will be "As the Spirit of the Lord Gives Utterance - Bishop OT Jones, Jr. as Revisionist Pentecostal Theologian" by Professor Eric Williams, 2009 Faculty Fellow at Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI. The lecture is scheduled for Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 10 am in Benbow Hall on the Mt. Airy, campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia. The lecture is co-sponsored by the UTI and The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Jurisdiction, The Church of God in Christ, and is free and open to the public.

Bishop Ozro Thurston "O.T." Jones, Jr., was a bishop and member of the governing board of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), and senior pastor of Holy Temple Church of God in Christ at 60th and Callowhill Streets, Philadelphia, until he retired in 2000. He was born in Arkansas and moved with his family to West Philadelphia when he was a boy. His father, Orzo Thurston Jones, Sr., also a COGIC bishop, in 1941 appointed O.T. Jones, Jr., as leader of approximately 800 young people at the Holy Temple church, where he organized youth groups. Following his undergraduate and graduate education, including a doctoral degree, at Temple University, O.T. Jones, Jr., became a missionary in Liberia and in 1953 was ordained in the church and named pastor of Memorial Church of God in Christ in Bryn Mawr. He was called to serve at Holy Temple after his father's death in 1972.

About the lecturer: Professor Eric Williams is the 2009 Faculty Fellow at Western Theological Seminary, where he teaches in the areas of theology and homiletics. An ordained minister of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), Williams holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the McCormick Theological Seminary, the Master of Divinity degree from The Divinity School, Duke University and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Institute of Religion at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Professor Williams' studies and ministry have taken him to the continents of Africa, South America, Europe, extensively throughout the continental United States and to several Islands of the Caribbean. His research and writing interests include urban ministry and evangelism, preaching as theological discourse, Black sacred rhetoric, contemporary theologies of the Holy Spirit, religion and cultural criticism and African-American political theologies.

In addition to his formal theological studies, Williams has served congregations within the states of Illinois, New York, Connecticut and North Carolina as well as in the United Kingdom. Williams desires to work bi-vocationally as a parish minister and Christian theologian within the academy. (source: Western Theological Seminary)

More information on UTI and the lecture can be found on the seminary Web site at

(biographical information on Bishop O.T. Jones, Jr., from the Church of God in Christ and the Philadelphia Inquirer)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Community Earth Week Fair at LTSP Tuesday, April 20

The Northwest Philadelphia community is invited to celebrate green living at the Earth Week Fair on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 11 am - 12:30 pm. The fair will be on William Allen Plaza at the southeast corner of the campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), 7301 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia's Mt. Airy neighborhood. The event is free and open to the public.

The fair will host exhibits from neighborhood businesses, green product suppliers, PECO Energy and SEPTA, LTSP organizations, and more. Raffles of "green" products, food, coffee, and insightful information will be featured free of charge.

The Earth Week Fair is a joint venture between LTSP's institutional Green Team and the seminary student committee known as the Environmental Stewardship Commission. Notes seminarian Jason Glombicki, a member of the Green Team,"This event will be an opportunity for the community to come to a better understanding of green practices from organizations in Mt. Airy to personal practices to institutional practices of LTSP to product options. It will also be an ideal setting for networking between neighbors and organizations."

More information can be found as it is made available, including lists of participating organizations and electronic handouts at or email Download a reproducible poster for the Fair (Adobe pdf).

Friday, March 19, 2010

LTSP and St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Doylestown, Hosting Bach Vespers 3/28

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) and St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Doylestown, are co-sponsoring a Bach Vespers on Sunday, March 28, 2010, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, North Main and Spruce Streets, Doylestown, PA. Dr. Michael Krentz, LTSP Director of Music Ministries and Seminary Cantor, will present a pre-service talk at 3:15 pm, and the service begins at 4 pm. A free will offering will benefit the seminary and Lutheran World Relief.

Vespers will include Bach's Cantata BWV 22, Jesus took to Him the twelve, and arias from the St. Matthew Passion. Singers and musicians include Megan Allison Smith, Alto; James Peters, Tenor; Stephen Luebke, Baritone; The Saint Paul’s Singers, directed by J. Bennett Durham; Dr. Michael Krentz, organ; Academy Chamber Society of Germantown Academy conducted by Michael Kemp; and seminarians Carmine Pernini and members of the seminary choir.

Directions to St. Paul's Lutheran Church can be found at

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mary Hess to present 2010 Hein-Fry Lecture 3/30

Dr. Mary Hess, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, will be the 2010 Hein-Fry lecturer presenting on the topic "Hearing the Word: Teaching the Bible in the Parish and Beyond." The lecture will be held on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, on the campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Hess is one of five scholars affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) invited to present lectures on this year's topic based on their particular perspectives and scholarship. The lecture will explore Lutheran perspectives on biblical pedagogy, using both theory and practical examples, and making a case for the promise of one, some, or even all of these approaches to teaching the Bible.

This year's theme, "Hearing the Word: Teaching the Bible in the Parish and Beyond," was chosen in order to explore the important conversations throughout the ELCA concerning the various ways Lutheran communities in diverse North American contexts are sharing the biblical narratives, truths, and messages of the gospel through their teaching ministries. The hope for these presentations is that they will raise awareness about the many ways the Lutheran churches have traditionally taught the Bible as well as offer innovative contemporary approaches to teaching the Bible that Lutherans might use today.

Mary Hess joined the Luther Seminary faculty in July of 2000. Hess received her BA degree in American Studies in 1985 from Yale University in New Haven, Conn. She received her MTS degree in 1992 from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. In 1998, she received her PhD in religion and education from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Dr. Hess' most recent professional experience includes serving on the editorial board of the premier journal in her field, Religious Education (1999-present), working with the Lexington Seminar and the Wabash Center, and serving as a core member of the International Study Commission on Media, Religion and Culture. She is a member of the Religious Education Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Her most recent publications include the books Teaching Reflectively in Theological Contexts: Promises and contradictions (Melbourne, FL: Krieger, 2008), and Engaging technology in theological education: All that we can't leave behind, (New York: Rowman Littlefield 2005). She maintains her own website and has written her weblog, Tensegrities, since 2003.

About the Hein-Fry Lecture Series:
The annual Hein-Fry Lecture Series identifies lively, pressing theological issues facing the church and offers free and open to the public lectures that stimulate intellectual inquiry and discussion of those issues throughout the church.

The goals of the endowed series are to:
  • foster original scholarship,
  • encourage broad dialogue throughout the church on a theological topic, and
  • give seminary faculty, students, clergy, church leaders, and other interested persons access to leading theologians.
The Hein Fry Lecture Series grows out of prestigious traditions dating back nearly 40 years in the histories of the ELCA predecessor church bodies.

The Hein Seminary Lectures were held each year at the four seminaries of the American Lutheran Church. The Fry Lectures continue and expand on the series known as Knubel-Miller-Greever Lectures, which were held at various seminaries and other locations in the Lutheran Church in America.

The Hein-Fry Lecture Series is unique in that it addresses all the seminary communities within a major American denomination. This gives the Series great potential for engaging both the current theological leadership and a generation of ministerial candidates in discussion of a focused theological issue.

The series is coordinated by the Vocation and Education unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Lecture topics, speakers, and schedules are set by Hein-Fry Lecture Series Governing Committee.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

$2 million gift by longtime registrar John Kaufmann ’44 largest in LTSP's history

Largest gift in 146-year seminary history will help complete capital campaign and endow library operations

The Rev. Dr. John Augustus Kaufmann enjoyed a nearly 70-year affiliation with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), an institution of higher learning that he loved dearly. Now, in death, the late registrar emeritus has left the school the largest donation in its 146-year history – a $2 million bequest.

"The history of the seminary, like the history of the church, is a history of challenge and change, but it is also a history of grace and generosity," reflected the Rev. Dr. Philip Krey, LTSP president. “John Kaufmann saw the challenges and changes facing the school. He also watched the grace and generosity of others who cared about the seminary, and he was inspired to do what he could to help the school in this crucial time. He gave me and other seminary presidents here invaluable advice and counsel over many years, and his approach to that counsel was likewise a great gift.”

Kaufmann graduated from LTSP with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1944, served on the faculty, and retired as registrar in 1990. He continued to serve on the seminary Board and in his cherished advisory capacity while living on the campus. He was a trusted friend to Board Chairs and worked with seminary legal counsel for more years than any other person on campus. Kaufmann died December 5, 2009, at the age of 89. His wife, Doris, died in 1993.

“This largest single gift in our history is truly a sustaining gift,” Krey said. A significant portion of the legacy will be directed toward the Brossman Learning Center campaign, Krey stated. The balance will be placed in a restricted fund called the John and Doris Kaufmann Fund for the Krauth Memorial Library, a historic building on the campus. The school celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Krauth Library building last year and is in the process of renovating its heating and air conditioning and making it handicapped accessible. “The income from the fund will pay a significant portion of the library’s annual budget,” Krey said. “This remarkable gift could not have come at a better time."

LTSP, as is the case with other institutions, has seen its endowment and resources diminished by the recession, and as those funds rebuild with the recovery, this endowment gift will add to that recovery, Krey said. He added that historically Kaufmann was also a generous contributor to the seminary's annual Leadership Fund, most of which goes to provide financial aid to students. "Dr. Kaufmann has insured that his generosity will continue in perpetuity,” Krey said. “John was clear in his account of why he has done what he has done. He valued theological education and the contribution that a learned clergy can make to the church and society. He loved the church and was grateful that it gave him grace and meaning in what for him was a challenging life full of challenge and change. He thrived by reading, studying, and adapting to the changes that God provided and gave back and forward in an amazing way."

"John always spoke of how important estate gifts have been in the history of the seminary and wanted his example to encourage others to invest in the seminary,” says Krey. “He simply loved the students and alumni who pass through here."

Kaufmann will be remembered during the seminary's Spring Convocation at matins on April 27 at 9:30 am in the seminary chapel, located on the seminary’s East Mt. Airy campus in Philadelphia. Memorial gifts may be made for the John A. Kaufmann Enrollment Services Center at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119, or online

President's Video Message - February 2010

In the February 2010 edition of A Conversation with the President, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia's (LTSP) President the Rev. Dr. Philip Krey is joined by students Rozella Poston (MAR/UTI) and Theresa Reese (MDiv/UTI). Rozella and Theresa talk about the Urban Theological Institute (UTI) and their experiences as students, and about the upcoming Preaching with Power, sponsored by the Institute.

The Urban Theological Institute (UTI) of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, celebrating 30 years, is dedicated to providing theological education to church leaders that is relevant and upbuilding for the African American community, Through programming and courses, the UTI provides opportunities for clergy and laypersons to prepare themselves for service as educated leaders of the church. Preaching with PowerThese include the Master of Divinity (MDiv) with Black Church, Multicultural, and Urban Ministry concentrations, and the Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) with a variety of ministry leadership specializations, along with advanced level degree and certificate programs, and public programming such as Preaching with Power, now in its 28th year, and the UTI Lecture Series.

This year, Preaching with Power runs from Sunday, March 7 through Thursday, March 11, and the week concludes with a Prospective Student Day on Saturday, March 13. The next Public Lecture is Saturday, April 17 on "As the Spirit of the Lord Gives Utterance - Bishop O. T. Jones, Jr. as Revisionist Pentecostal Theologian."

Learn more about the UTI at

Veteran Pastor John Berntsen appointed director of student services at LTSP

Berntsen served 17 years as a pastor in Perkasie, PA, and chaired a synodical candidacy committee

The Rev. Dr. John A. Berntsen of Perkasie, PA, a veteran parish pastor with more than 30 years of experience serving congregations in Pennsylvania, has been appointed director of student services for The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

In his new post, Berntsen will guide seminarians through the candidacy process leading to rostered ministry positions in the church and support them in their formation as church leaders. He says he looks forward to encouraging seminarians to come to terms with “what it means to finally accept the mantle of leadership.”

Berntsen most recently served 17 years as senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Perkasie, PA. Prior to that he was pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Macungie, PA, for seven years. He’s also served parishes in Lehighton and Whitehall.

A native of Clinton, IA, Berntsen says he became interested in the seminary position in part due to his 10 years of experience as a member and chair of the Candidacy Committee of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Lutheran seminarians get counsel and oversight from a synodical (regional) jurisdiction of the ELCA as they prepare for ministry. Meetings with such committees are a key part of the leadership discernment process. “I really have enjoyed getting to know seminarians through the candidacy process,” Berntsen says. “And I can really relate to some of the struggles they go through. So this new position gives me the opportunity after all of my experience to focus on being a closer part of this process for more seminarians.”

Berntsen was influenced to become a pastor by the pastor of the small church he grew up in. “He was a strong public speaker and preacher and made the Word come to life for me,” Berntsen recalls. Berntsen's father was “bivocational,” he says with a smile. He ran an insurance business but also was a choir director “and knew all the hymns of the church and classical oratorios. When we came home from church we would always discuss the pastor’s sermon at lunch,” Berntsen recalls. Berntsen sang in the St. Olaf Choir at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, from which he graduated cum laude in 1970. He became a vocalist as a youth in Clinton, and learned to play the trumpet and French horn. But he also loved sports, participating in basketball, track, tennis and football. He grew up two miles from the banks of the Mississippi River.

Berntsen says that over the years he has resisted trendy ideas that emerge about being a church pastor. “I’ve really enjoyed taking things as they come one day at a time, without the pretense of a master plan” he says. “I was around my last congregation for a long time. You need to grow in all the skill set areas such as preaching and pastoral care. I have to say, daily life in a congregation has been truly joyous for me. People have invited me into their lives during many sacred moments. I have really enjoyed preaching, studying the scriptures, the weekly rhythms of the church and the pattern of preparation for worship, the feast and meal of Holy Communion and pastoral care visits.” He says he has also enjoyed relating to teenagers and admires their passion for faith.

He is the author of Cross-Shaped Leadership: On the Rough and Tumble of Parish Practice (The Alban Institute, 2008). “I wanted to write about the theology of vocation for leaders of parish life,” Berntsen explains. “In terms of theology I wrote about what keeps a leader going and surviving, being shaped under the cross by the realities of parish life without any illusions,” he says.

Berntsen earned his Master of Divinity Degree from Yale University Divinity School (1973) and was awarded his PhD in 1985 from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where he concentrated on systematic and liturgical theology, especially the work of theologian Karl Barth. He was ordained into the parish ministry in Iowa in 1980.

In addition to his candidacy work, Berntsen has held several volunteer synodical posts, including serving on the Bishop’s Advisory Committee in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod and chairing the Worship Committee of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod. For three years he was a guest lecturer in religion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and has taught as an adjunct professor of Systematic Theology at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, PA.

Berntsen’s spouse, Mary Lynn, is a hospital information specialist. The couple has two adult children – Matthew, an Indiana University senior majoring in bassoon performance, and T. J. (Thomas), a Lehigh University sophomore.