Sunday, October 28, 2012

Memorial Service for Prof. Andrew "Jack" White set for November 27

A memorial service for The Rev. Dr. Andrew J. White, a service-minded activist who profoundly lived out his 30-year career of teaching practical theology at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), is rescheduled for Tuesday, November 27, 2012 in the Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel on the LTSP campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The service begins at 6 pm, with LTSP professor Katie Day preaching, and a reception following. The public is invited to celebrate Dr. White’s many contributions to the community and the wider world, as well as to the seminary and church.

Emeritus Professor
"Jack" White on campus
in 2005
Dr. White died Sunday, May 6, 2012 in Chambersburg, PA, where he lived in retirement. He was 79. White, known to colleagues and friends as "Jack," retired from LTSP in 1997. He had held the Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor Chair of Practical Theology for 14 years, and had served as secretary of the faculty for three years. From 1983 until his retirement, he was director of Contextual Education (field work) at the school, and directed the seminary's Graduate School (Advanced-Level Degree Programs) from 1991 until he retired. During his seminary career, White served four years (1978-82) as Executive Director of the Council for Lutheran Theological Education in the Northeast (CLTEN), which coupled the Philadelphia and Gettysburg seminaries with 11 regional synods and districts of two national Lutheran church bodies of that time, the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church, predecessor bodies of the current Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). For many years, White also edited Parish Practice Notebook, a publication that sought to convey to alumni and other church leaders fresh ideas in connection with successful congregational ministry.

What especially distinguished White was how his teaching of theology was reflected in his lifestyle, engaging himself in a wide variety of community service endeavors. Such interests were evident early in his career. He served two congregations before becoming a professor - Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cicero, IN, and Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church in East Cleveland, OH. While in East Cleveland he also chaired that city's Human Relations Committee (1962-65).

"Jack White had remarkable energy and a real vision for where he thought the church should go," recalls the Rev. Dr. LeRoy Aden, a colleague of White's who retired as the Luther D. Reed Professor of Practical Theology after 27 years at the seminary. "Many of us on the faculty were teaching in more theoretical areas. Jack had a real focus on the practical side of ministry in the world, particularly social ministry and the urban church. He was not a traditional thinker, but was sometimes viewed as something of a vagabond. He could be really assertive. He was not much into the usual way of doing things."

Aden said even though Prof. White's late wife, Miriam Eileen Recker White, was not in the best of health during their retirement years at Luther Ridge Retirement Community in Chambersburg, they maintained active lives, traveling overseas as active supporters of global ministry in South Africa and Germany. The Whites spent a year in Slovakia in retirement while White taught at Bratislava Seminary there. In 1998, White was an international observer of the Parliamentary elections in Slovakia representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Prof. White in 1997
Joining the LTSP faculty in 1967, White became vigorously active on the civic scene while a resident of Philadelphia's East Mount Airy neighborhood. He served on the Board of East Mount Airy Neighbors (EMAN) from 1968 to 1974 and from 1976 to 1979. He served four years on the Board of Philadelphia's Haverford Community Center (1968-72). From 1972 to 1978, White was on the Democratic Ward Executive Committee and was frequently its vice-chair. From 1971 to 1978, he was vice-chair of the Board for EMAN Group Homes, which served individuals with developmental delays, focusing on personnel and fundraising. Beginning in 1981, White served until 1997 as secretary for the Board of the Mt. Airy Village Development Corp. For 11 years White chaired the Board of Lutheran Retirement Homes (Paul's Run), a social ministry organization of the church located in Northeast Philadelphia (1977-1988).

He continued that vigorous service in retirement in Central Pennsylvania. White served as a member of the Ethics Committee and as an on-call chaplain for Chambersburg Hospital. He was vice-chair for the Board of Lutheran Home Care and Hospice in the area, and a tutor for the Harrisburg area's Scotland School for Veterans Children, originally founded to serve the children of Civil War veterans, which closed in 2009. He was a board member of the Auxiliary of Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania and former president of the Franklin-Fulton Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

A 1954 Wittenberg University graduate, he earned his Master of Divinity in 1957 from Hamma School of Theology, a predecessor school for today's Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH. Trinity named him its distinguished alumnus in 1986. He earned his PhD from Case Western Reserve University in 1969, focusing his thesis on the areas of political science and community organization. He earned the Master of Theology from the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN.

In Philadelphia, the Whites belonged to Reformation Lutheran Church in East Mount Airy. He served on a committee assigned to call a pastor, as assistant scoutmaster, as a member of the congregation's finance committee, and its choir. For several years he served the Board of the Northwest Philadelphia Lutheran Parish, a collaborative organization of Lutheran congregations.

White was also involved in activities of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA. He served on a task force on Ministry of the Laity and on a committee evaluating chaplaincy services. National church activities included service on a commission to study the nature and mission of the congregation, and in 1990 inSouth Africa as a volunteer missionary.

After his wife died early last year, White remarried. His widow, Phyllis Ann Akers White, survives. Also surviving are four children, Mary Sue Burns of Marlinton, WVA; Daniel of Atlanta, GA; John of Houston, TX, and James of Huntingdon, PA; five grandchildren, Jesse and Jonathan Burns, Sara May, Shelby T. and Joanna M. White; and a sister, Dorothy Jean Robinson of Ormond Beach, FL. Two stepchildren survive: Kathryn Perbetzky of Philadelphia and George Akers of Gettysburg, PA.

A memorial service was also held May 10, at St. Luke Lutheran Church on the Luther Ridge Retirement Community campus, where White was a member. In lieu of flowers, gifts are invited for Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania, 1050 Pennsylvania Avenue, York, PA 17404, or The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119.

(This event was rescheduled from October 30 due to Hurricane Sandy.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dr. Jon Pahl: Hagan Chair Ceremony November 27

Dr. Jon Pahl, Professor of History of Christianity and Director of MA Programs at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), is being awarded the Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Chair at a special chairing ceremony on Tuesday, November 27, 2012. The ceremony 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. At the event, Dr. Pahl will present his inaugural lecture as Hagan Professor, which he has titled “Ending the Warfare between Business and Religion – Toward a New Social Gospel.” The ceremony and lecture are free and open to the public.

The Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Chair is one of nine chaired professorships at LTSP that have been established to honor distinguished faculty, regardless of discipline. To be eligible to occupy one of these chairs, a teacher should have competed at least five years as full professor at the seminary. The Hagan Chair was established in 1952 to honor and remember seminary President Paul J. Hoh, who died on January 20, 1952. At the time of his death, his written wish was “I prefer that there be no memorial service and that there be no tablet, bronze or other material placed anywhere in my memory.” This explicit wish was respected by the Board of Directors, which at its meeting held on April 22, 1952, passed a resolution “humbly thanking God who gave him to us and to our Church.”

At the same meeting, the Hagan Professorship was established through the donation of an endowment by Dr. Peter Paul Hagan and his wife Elizabeth B. Hagan, who stated that “it be regarded as a memorial to Dr. Hoh and to his tremendous contribution toward the task of preparing better people for a better ministry for a better Church.”

Dr. Hagan was a Philadelphia carpet manufacturer and member of St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Melrose Park. As a prominent and active Lutheran layperson, he served as vice-president of the seminary board, as a trustee of Tabor Home for Children in Doylestown, as treasurer of the Parish and Church School Board, and as a member of the Board of Pensions of the United Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor body to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, of which LTSP is one of eight seminaries. He was president of the Philadelphia Lutheran Inner Mission Society, and vice president of the Lutheran Laymen’s Movement for Stewardship. His gift to the Ministerium of Pennsylvania was Camp Hagan for girls at Shawnee-on-the-Delaware. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Muhlenberg College in 1945.

As part of his ongoing connections with our seminary, he inspected all buildings on the campus and led the campaign for a massive renovation in 1948, which cost (at that time) $200,000, one-fifth of which was contributed by Peter and Elizabeth Hagan. In honor of this generous act, the Gowen Mansion was renamed Hagan Hall. Dr. Hagan's death in 1959 was deeply mourned by a large host of family and well-wishers, including the seminary.

Dr. Jon Pahl joined the LTSP faculty after serving on the faculty of Valparaiso University. He  teaches classes at LTSP in American Religious History, Lutherans in America, Religion and Violence, Religion and Film, and many others, and has also served as Visiting Professor of Religion at Temple University, in Philadelphia, and as Visiting Professor of Religion at Princeton University. 

Dr. Pahl has published dozens of articles, essays, columns, and reviews; has appeared on media outlets from the BBC to ABC; and is author or editor of six books, most recently Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Spaces:  Putting God in Place (Wipf and Stock), and Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence (NYU). He has also appeared, along with his son, Justin, in the feature documentary film Malls R Us. He has enjoyed speaking with congregations and audiences from Ankara, Turkey to Anaheim, California.  He has lectured at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Princeton and Purdue, and many others venues from Singapore to Kampala to Jakarata to Sydney. 

As Director of MA Programs, Dr. Pahl oversees the academic work of students interested in a Master of Arts degree.  He has been instrumental in developing a new specialization in "public leadership," bridging theological education with secular professions, especially social work or business. 

You can read more about Dr. Pahl online at

(This event was rescheduled from October 30 due to Hurricane Sandy.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seminarians awarded Fund for Leaders scholarships

Brett Betkoski and Elyssa Salinas, students at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), were honored in early October with full scholarships, awarded starting with the current academic year. The awards, from the Fund for Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), are part of the ELCA’s commitment to support seminarians preparing for ministry.

Betkoski and Salinas were among 16 first-year seminarians from the eight seminaries of the ELCA, including LTSP, honored at a banquet October 5 attended by ELCA synod bishops, synod vice presidents, seminary presidents, leaders of the ELCA’s churchwide ministries, donors, and supporters of the Fund for Leaders.

"You bring the light of Jesus. You bring the presence of the spirit. You bring the life of the way of the cross with you, and through you, God is already renewing this church," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson. In his address to the recipients, Hanson thanked ELCA seminaries and the 65 synods of the ELCA for their role in developing new leaders.

"Tonight we say thanks be to God for all the people you've brought with you," Hanson said. "It's the responsibility of everyone in this room, particularly bishops, vice presidents of synods and seminary faculty to prepare a church to be ready to receive you," he said, adding, "We've got to be ready for the church to receive your gifts, your wisdom, your curiosity, your love for Jesus, your desire to work for justice and peace."

The ceremony also included a special presentation from the Rev. Roger Haug and the Rev. Paige Whitney, Grace Lutheran Church in Waseca, Minn. Whitney was a Fund for Leaders scholarship recipient in 2007. She and Haug presented a $250,000 gift to create the Grace Lutheran Church Seminary Scholarship Fund in honor of the congregation's 75th anniversary this year. The scholarship gift will be part of the ELCA Southeastern Minnesota Synod Fund for Leaders endowment.

Now in its 12th year, the Fund for Leaders is an ELCA initiative to build an endowed scholarship resource to provide tuition assistance for 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.

"This is a diverse and exciting group, representative of their colleagues who are also entering seminary," said Michael Nevergall, who serves as director for ELCA Fund for Leaders. "I am very excited about where we are headed."

Information about the ELCA Fund for Leaders is available at

Information for this story from the ELCA News Service

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Document Shredding Event at LTSP on October 20th

Free document shredding by a professional company allows you safely destroy paper documents with sensitive information. Scheduled for Saturday, October 20th from 9 am - 1 pm in the parking lot adjacent to The Brossman Center at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mr. Airy section of Philadelphia.

2 boxes per family, please.

In exchange for the free shredding, you are asked to bring dry goods for the LTSP food bank for students. Pasta and canned beans are especially appreciated.

Jon Roth, FIC, will also be on hand to answer any questions you might have about Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Do a little fall house or office cleaning and stop by the shredding event on October 20. For directions to LTSP and a campus map, go to

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Theologian and LWR President Dr. John Nunes: Brown Bag Lunch conversation Thurs, Oct. 11

The public is invited to an informal brown bag lunch with the Rev. Dr. John Nunes, President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief (LWR), on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). Dr. Nunes will be discussing the work of LWR in putting mission into action to end poverty, injustice and human suffering, and to share how LWR can be a valuable resource and partner in ministry with local congregations.

The session is scheduled on October 11 from 12:30 - 1:30 pm in room 301 of The Brossman Center on the LTSP campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mr. Airy section of Philadelphia. Dr. Nunes will also be preaching at noon worship in the Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel at LTSP, which is adjacent to The Brossman Center. Attendees are invited to join the seminary community at worship before the brown bag lunch.

Dr. Nunes serves as president and CEO of LWR, a $42 million global organization. With a passion for service and deep commitment to LWR’s core values, John leads staff in 17 countries in working to end poverty, injustice and human suffering worldwide. Prior to joining LWR, John served on the faculty of Concordia University Chicago as a professor of theology. He has also served as a management consultant, and as an urban parish pastor and community organizer in Dallas, Texas and Detroit, Michigan. A gifted public speaker, John is also a frequent keynote presenter. He presented the commencement address at LTSP in 2010, which can be viewed online here.

For attendees of worship and the brown bag lunch, parking is available on the LTSP campus. Attendees are encouraged to bring your own lunch; LWR will provide snacks and beverages. An RSVP is requested but not required to

Copies of free LWR resources and ministry tools will be available for attendees. Learn more about Lutheran World Relief at Read John's Blog at