Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Preaching with Power coming March 10-14

Preaching with Power: A Forum on Black Preaching and Theology returns to Philadelphia for the 31st year from Sunday, March 10 through Thursday, March 14. Preaching with Power is a program of the Urban Theological Institute (UTI)  of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), and features five sermons and one lecture by six distinguished African American preachers and theologians.
Local churches in the Philadelphia community host the music celebration and evening worship services, 
with the lecture by Dr. Yolanda Pierce and worship with preaching by Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church Senior Pastor the Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller held on the LTSP campus in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. All are welcome! Come and be inspired! The worship offering proceeds go to The Rev. Dr. Joseph Q. Jackson Endowed Scholarship Fund, which benefits UTI students.
Dates and preachers/programs for 2013 are:
Sunday – March 10, 2013, 3:30 pm, Celebration of Music in the African American Church at Janes Memorial United Methodist Church, 41-59 E Haines Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144
Monday – March 11, 2013, 7:00 pm, Dr. Ralph D. West preaching at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, 25 West Johnson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144
Tuesday morning – March 12, 2013, 11:15 am, Dr. Yolanda Pierce lecturing at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19119
Tuesday evening – March 12, 2013, 7:00 pm, The Rt. Rev. Nathan D. Baxter preaching at Reformation Lutheran Church, 1215 East Vernon Road, Philadelphia, PA 19150
Wednesday morning – March 13, 2013, 11:15 am, Dr. Alyn E. Waller preaching at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19119
Wednesday evening – March 13, 2013, 6:30 pm, Bishop Martin Luther Johnson preaching at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19126
Thursday – March 14, 2013, 7:00 pm, Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram preaching at Mt. Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church, 428 North 41st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
The celebration concludes the next week with a Prospective Student Day on Thursday, March 21 starting at 6:30 pm on the LTSP campus. Is God calling you? Come and See what is available for you at LTSP! 
For more information on Preaching with Power, including venue directions and preacher profiles, and to register for Prospective Student Day, go to the seminary Website:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Alumnus Arnold F. Keller, Jr.: Services set

Pastor Arnold F. Keller, Jr., dies;
He was pastor emeritus of Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Washington, DC, LTSP alumnus and past board member

Pr. Arnold Keller
(ELCA Archives)
The Rev. Dr. Arnold F. Keller, Jr., pastor emeritus of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC, and a leader of many initiatives for justice in the nation’s capitol during a long career as a pastor there, died Saturday, Feb. 16. He was 88.
Pastor Keller served Reformation Church in the nation’s capital for a total of 33 years during two separate calls to the congregation. After his ordination in 1947, he was called as the congregation’s assistant pastor. Three years later, he became Reformation’s associate pastor. In 1953, he began a 14-year pastorate at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Allentown, PA, returning to Washington as Reformation’s senior pastor in 1967 and serving in that capacity for 26 years before retiring in 1993.
During his first call to Reformation, Keller met his wife-to-be, Margaret Schroeder, who was a parishioner. During the Allentown years, all four of the Kellers’ children were born.   He said he learned “the value of community” during his years as pastor of Allentown’s St. John’s Church, a downtown congregation. “We had people from just about every walk of life in that small urban setting and we tried to develop a ministry that reflected the needs of the community,” he said.
During Pastor Keller’s second call to service for Reformation, the congregation became known for its many community and global outreach ministries. These initiatives included a tutoring service for youth living in a nearby housing project, “Christmas in April” where young adults connected with Reformation annually have restored homes for local families, and a food pantry serving disadvantaged families in the church’s locale. 
Reformation was the headquarters for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during its historic 1968 March on Washington. During the same year, the Capitol Hill Day School was founded at the congregation. In the mid-1970s, Keller founded the Public Affairs Sector Ministry, bringing together hundreds of federal government employees to discuss political/theological issues. An independent survey in 1981 persuaded Keller that  the congregation’s community was underserved in health care, and he supported the start of the Family Practice and Counseling Center in the community. Under his leadership in 1984, Capitol Hill Community Achievement Awards were initiated to recognize diverse kinds of community excellence.
Under the leadership of Pastor Keller, Reformation in 1987 became an early “Reconciling in Christ” congregation within the then Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor body of the current Evangelical Lutheran Church in America denomination. Such congregations intentionally welcome LGBT persons to membership (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons).
In recognition of Reformation Church’s leadership in community projects, annual grants of $10,000 have been awarded to community organizations in honor of Pastor Keller during the annual dinner of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation. In 2006, recognizing the role the church played in defining H Street as an arts destination in Washington, two $10,000 Arnold F. Keller, Jr. grants were awarded.
Pr. Keller at retirement
After retiring from Reformation, Keller served as Executive Director for the Greater Washington, DC Council of Churches for about four years, stepping down in April 1997.
Enthusiastic about education for pastors and others, he supervised four seminary student interns during his career.
Over the years, Keller held many leadership posts including chairing the Maryland Synod’s Division for Mission, chairing the Board of Trustees of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, chairing the Inter-Lutheran Commission for Mission and Ministry for the Metro DC Synod, and representing the Maryland Synod at a Washington, D.C. Inter-Faith Conference.
Pastor Keller was born May 27, 1924 in Utica, NY, the son of a Lutheran pastor whom he once described as “a stern German disciplinarian with high standards.” He recalled his dad as an adept fly fisherman. During his teen years, Keller worked 12-hour days during the summer at a sawmill in the Adirondacks while attending the Mt. Herman Prep School in Massachusetts. He earned his BA from Hamilton College in 1945, and his Bachelor of Divinity from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1947. In 1964, Muhlenberg College conferred on Pastor Keller an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.
Surviving in addition to his widow, Margaret, are four adult children, Margaret, Arnold, Jonathan, and Anne.
Funeral services will be conducted at 2 pm Monday, Feb. 25 at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1850 6th Avenue, Vero Beach, FL.

Monday, February 18, 2013

LTSP's New Curriculum: A Reflection

A Reflection by the Rev. Dr. David Grafton
Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor,
Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations

Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Lutheran Theological Seminary
at Philadelphia seeks to educate and form public leaders who are
to developing and nurturing individual believers and
communities of faith for engagement in the world
The Rev. Dr. David GraftonI remember very vividly my first orientation session at seminary some twenty-four years ago. I sat down in the midst of an excited yet nervous cohort of incoming seminarians in the then new ELCA. It was at that point I realized I was one of the few “first career” theology students. Most of my classmates, friends, and colleagues were “second” or even “third” career students who brought with them a great deal of experience and commitment to the church, having been serving for years as lay leaders in their own congregations. I, on the other hand, had followed the “old school” regimen of doing a pre-theology program at a Lutheran university, and had hopes of continuing my Lutheran confessional seminary education at an ELCA school in preparation for my career in the Lutheran Church. I was a product similar to what Richard Lischer in Open Secrets called “the system.” After eight years of pre-seminary and seminary training, I felt pretty-well prepared for ministry in my first call, and then the boiler broke and I had no idea what to do.
This model of theological education has been the basis for training an educated clergy for quite a long time in North America. The concept of learning the “classics” of seminary education  biblical languages, early Christological debates, Lutheran confessional identity, and pastoral techniques  before heading out into the reality of parish contexts has been a wonderful model that has served the church well. Unfortunately, that model is no longer sustainable for several reasons.
My experience taught me that “book learning” was critical. And yet, I could never learn enough. While I had wonderful opportunities to fill my tool belt with the critical tools that helped me do ministry, after a total of twelve years of education (BA, MDiv, PhD), I could truly never learn enough to be a good pastor. It was clear I would need to be a life-long learner in the ministry. This is even truer today. 
I was also fortunate enough to have the institutional support of the church to subsidize my education at every level. My synod provided grants for me to attend a Lutheran university, my congregation underwrote my Lutheran seminary education, and a Lutheran companion synod provided a stipend while I worked on my PhD overseas. Throughout this time, my wife worked to help support us, and still we went into debt. As we know, seminary debt is an overwhelming challenge in the church today.
Finally, my experience as a church professional was nurtured by a large program-church at the height of its institutional life, supported by a network of field education congregations that gladly received and financially subsidized its seminarians, and was welcomed by a first-call congregation that was more than willing to provide a parsonage and health care for a young pastor, spouse, and babies on the way.
In many ways, times have changed, but in most ways, things are still the same. We still need pastors and lay leaders who are thoroughly grounded in the scriptures and confessions, who are able to meet the challenges of ministry in today’s world with integrity. However, in many places, the national demographics, church culture, networks, and resources that I grew up with have changed, and will continue to change. Things are changing so fast that it is impossible to train a student once for a lifetime of effective ministry.
LTSP serves the seminary’s mission of preparing public leaders for the mission of the church in the world. The seminary takes seriously its commitments to educate and form public leaders who are able to develop and nurture ministries of the church, as well as engage the larger public square for the common good. The seminary is committed to shaping Christian leaders who are able to articulate their faith within multiple publics. To this end, the seminary has been involved in a curriculum revision to respond to the changing landscape of our church and the many different communities in which our ministries are located. This new curriculum will build upon its past traditions of a confessionally Lutheran, inherently ecumenical seminary, with a high standard of academic rigor. The mantra of this new curriculum is: flexible, affordable, and relevant.
Flexible: The most recent Lutheran model of theological education assumed a four year full time residential student who could relocate to the seminary, move to an internship site, and relocate back to the seminary before heading out to first-call assignment — four moves in four years. Statistics demonstrate that the number of full time MDiv students nation-wide is dropping at a dramatic rate. The pool of applicants and their ability or desire to engage the “system” have changed. It is clear that those discerning a seminary education require flexibility from the church that will allow them to learn, grow, and prepare themselves while either not having to leave their employment, relocate, or to take four years to move through their courses; all the while realizing that theological education is never completed, even after seminary. The seminary hopes to work hand in hand with synods, candidacy committees, and judicatories to provide opportunities for undertaking study while working in ministry.
Affordable: The church has recognized that current seminarians are bearing the bulk of the financial burden for their studies. While it is true that other professional schools have not had subsidized education, it is also true that the financial benefits of church workers rank near the bottom of all trained professions. In addition, the ability of ministries to provide housing and health care coverage for their pastors has been greatly challenged. There is no getting around the fact that theological education is a significant investment of time and money by the church. With shrinking resources from traditional sources of income, the seminary will need to continue to support its Leadership Fund, as well as find opportunities for students to engage in ministry through co-op models while they study. A new curriculum will provide avenues for students to continue working, or, if full time, move through more quickly and meet their requirements for graduation in a more affordable and timely manner.
Relevant: The traditional models of theological education that I was schooled in provided classroom theory upon which to build skills for practical ministry. This curriculum centers on experiential or case-study based methods so that theory and praxis inform each other on a continuing basis. The intent is to invert the previous paradigm and introduce students to practical ministry and theological reflection from the beginning of the program. This is a model that has been utilized by the medical and legal professions for more than thirty years. Students will be required to link particular required courses with field education sites and demonstrate how their practical ministry is affected by their theological identities, and how their “book learning” impacts their practice.
It is easy to see that the flexible, affordable, and relevant criteria are all inter-related. A new curriculum will aim to provide combinations of full and part time study, residential, commuter, distance components, and hybrid courses so that candidates for ministry can move through their education more quickly with courses that attempt to create opportunities for learning from practical ministerial experiences.
A new curriculum at LTSP will be based upon the seminary's commitments to educate and form rostered leaders for the church that are competent to meet the needs of the church in a changing church and a changing culture. Students will be required to demonstrate they can lead communities, be entrepreneurs, preach, and live the Gospel in a variety of ministerial contexts where traditional church community may no longer be the base for much of our society. In addition, whereas the previous 2004 curriculum took a major step of requiring students to take courses in global, ecumenical, and interfaith engagement, this curriculum will require students to integrate the global, multi-cultural, ecumenical, and interfaith realities of our nation within the whole of the curriculum. Finally, an initial Introduction to Public Theology and a final course in Public Theology will help students integrate their theological and confessional witness within larger social issues where the church needs to have a public voice, bearing witness to the God made manifest in the Crucified and Risen Christ. We hope this developing curriculum will form the new “system” for another generation of church leaders.
The new curriculum will be launched in fall 2013.
Originally published in the January issue of PS Portions online at Also see President Krey's introduction to the issue: Moving Forward in the Name of Christ.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Convocation: Challenges and Opportunities in Christian Education Feb. 19

Challenges and Opportunities 
Christian Education 

   The Rev. Dr. Michelle Carlson
The Rev. Dr. Michelle Carlson
Director of Lifelong Learning at the 
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Brossman Learning Center, Room 201
11:30 am to 12:30 pm

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Carlson has graciously agreed to stay over the lunch period following the lecture to engage in further dialog about the challenges and opportunities many of us face in the Christian Education arena. This is an open discussion and anyone may stay to participate.

There are different venues on and near campus to purchase lunch while you are here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Kathie Afflerbach, AiM, Coordinator for Non-Credit Education, 215.248.6324 or

We look forward to your participation in this very timely convocation.

Convocation Flyer