Monday, September 30, 2013

“The Legacy of Ecumenical Protestantism: Nolde’s Contribution” - Public Lecture October 1

Imagine being dean of a seminary graduate school and at the same time working to frame the religious freedom article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), serving as a diplomat to help facilitate peace talks to end the Korean War (1953), or working behind the scenes on Paris Peace Talks negotiations to end the Vietnam Conflict (1968).

That is a legacy The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) has inherited from the late Dr. O. Frederick Nolde, a 1923 LTSP alumnus, and both professor of Religious Education at LTSP (1943-62) and Graduate School Dean. Nolde, a resident of Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, played a key role in establishing the World Council of Churches, was founding director of the Council’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1966), and worked closely with U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, United Nations General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold and Eleanor Roosevelt on international concerns of the day.

Dr. David Little
His legacy today is carried on by the Nolde family in underwriting opportunities for seminarians to engage in field work at the United Nations. The seminary community and the public will have a special opportunity to re-engage with Nolde’s historic contributions on Tuesday, October 1 at LTSP when the Nolde Lecture is delivered by Nolde admirer Dr. David Little, whose academic and professional career has focused on the same interests Nolde had -- human rights and peace-building . The title of Little’s lecture will be “The Legacy of Ecumenical Protestantism: Nolde’s Contribution.” Little will describe the efforts of Nolde and his fellow Protestants, working in the post-World War II period, to overcome religious, economic, racial, and political divisions, both at home and abroad. He will suggest some of the lasting effects of those efforts despite the precipitous numerical decline, in the 1960s, of the movement with which Nolde was associated. (in the photo: Dr. Little doing research using the Nolde collection in the Archives at LTSP)

Little served from 1989-99 as senior scholar in religion, ethics and human rights for the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, where he now resides. From 1999 to 2009 he was the T. J. Dermot Dunphy Professor at the Harvard Divinity School, focusing on the practice of religion in the areas of Ethnicity and International Conflict. At the time he was also a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, and taught at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

“Fred Nolde was an exemplar of the ecumenical spirit that was riding high in our culture from the late 1940s to the 1960s,” Little noted in a recent Washington, DC, interview for the seminary about Nolde’s legacy . The interview will be part of the 150th LTSP anniversary web-based history, to debut in 2014. “He represented so well intellectually and practically the bridge-building spirit both in and outside of the church that was happening at that time. There was a readiness in the culture of that day for Protestant theology to have an important influence in secular political life. But it was also the man who made the difference. Fred Nolde was high energy, with gifts of intellect and memory for the events he was a part of. He could engage people easily, without notes.”

Little’s remarks will take place at 11:30 on Tuesday, October 1 at Thhe Brossman Learning Center on the LTSP campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy setion of Philadelphia, followed by observations of seminarians who have taken part in field work underwritten by the Nolde family.

Excerpts from the interview with Dr. Little:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lois La Croix dies. She was the longest-serving administrator at the Lutheran Seminary

Lois La Croix, executive assistant to the president at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), died yesterday afternoon after a lengthy illness. A resident of Philadelphia’s Roxborough section, she was 59.

La Croix held two key administrative posts at LTSP over 25 years and was the school’s longest serving administrative staff person.

“Lois set the standard for being an exemplary administrative assistant,” said seminary president the Rev. Dr. Philip D.W. Krey, who worked alongside La Croix for more than a decade. “She was at the center of everything. She anticipated every meeting, event, report, and meeting, and prepared the president’s office, staff, and faculty for their roles so that the school would have a chance to function at a high level. She believed in accountability and held us all to our commitments and responsibilities. You did not want to hear her say that the Board report would go out without your contribution because you were missing a deadline. She loved a challenge and rose to every new role presented to her. She could be firm in her expectations of colleagues, and yet she was readily available to graciously counsel students, staff, and faculty alike when needed. She will be missed and will always be remembered for her leadership at the seminary.” 

“I often thought of Lois as someone much like a provost at a larger institution of higher learning,” said Mark A. Staples, who served as LTSP’s director of communications from 1997 to 2005 and knew her well as a colleague. “She was much, much more than an assistant. She was well-organized with details regarding the life and history of the school and took responsibility for events and activities large and small. Lois contributed much strategically to the life of the school. She gave a lot of moral and detailed support whenever LTSP faced a challenge or emergency and always seemed calm and in control at such times. I often depended on her for critical information or background. Plus,” he said with a smile, “I ate a lot of candy.” La Croix was generous with little touches, he remembered. “She kept a stash of candy in a desk drawer that made visitors to the president’s office feel welcome. She never seemed to run out. She could be spot-on and focused whenever a critical situation demanded, but she also had the best sense of humor. I well recall her Halloween desk trinkets — a witch costume and pointed hat. She was a snappy dresser during much of her career, but on Halloween it did not faze her to be seen at the president assistant’s desk in costume.” La Croix was also a big-time fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. Whenever the Phillies played an afternoon baseball game, La Croix kept the game on at low volume at her desk.

Carrie Schwab, the executive assistant who has succeeded La Croix, remembered her predecessor’s “big, beautiful hats, her particular love of Halloween, and her laugh (bordering at times on a loud cackle) that was so full of life. I recall how Lois took me under her wing and mentored me when I moved to Philadelphia from the Midwest. My mom, who was concerned about my move to ‘the big city,’ felt comforted because Lois was a part of my world.” La Croix served as maid of honor when Carrie married Martin Schwab, who serves as the seminary’s business manager.

La Croix had requested that a memorial fund in her name be established for use to assist seminary staff in emergencies. “Establishing this fund is so like her,” said long time seminary faculty member the Rev. Dr. Katie Day. “Lois knew intimately the difficulties that staff could go through, and she wanted them to have a safety net. This was such a sensitive and caring gesture. I hope everyone who can will make a contribution to this fund.”

“She was on top of her job,” recalled Robert Blanck, Esq., the attorney who chaired the seminary’s board of trustees for about 30 years. “She had or quickly found answers for whatever question or problem I was trying to resolve.” Blanck, who knew La Croix throughout her seminary employment, said she was “helpful, cooperative, pleasant, and ever willing to lend assistance.”

The Rev. George E. Keck, retired director of admissions at LTSP knew La Croix practically her entire career. “Lois was a bit rebellious and decided not to go to college,” Keck recalled. “She instead spent time at the Lutheran Church in America Deaconess Center in Gladwyne to discern what to do with her life after high school.” The Lutheran Church in America was a predecessor body to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) denomination.

“Having no professional or college training Lois took an entry level job as a telephone receptionist at the Division for Professional Leadership (DPL) at 2900 Queen Lane in Philadelphia. (DPL, working with regional church jurisdictions called synods, oversaw the candidacy and requirements for the national church’s rostered professional leaders.)

“I was called to the DPL staff to develop new programming in 1978,” Keck remembered. “But no secretary was available. Lois began working for me part time in that capacity. It became quickly evident how organized she was, and she could spell better than I could. She and I learned our respective roles together. Since I was from Pittsburgh she introduced me to the Phillies and Eagles. As Lois developed skills on the job she developed a network of contacts working with synod candidacy committees and bishops. She arranged workshops and conferences and as computers came into vogue she mastered the art of preparing handbooks for candidacy committees of the dozens of regional synods.”

When the merger took place to form the ELCA, moving church offices from New York City and Philadelphia to Chicago, Keck and La Croix were both out of a job.

“I was appointed admissions director at LTSP, and was able to arrange for Lois to be appointed as my secretary,” Keck remembered. La Croix began her seminary career in July of 1987. She became executive assistant to President Robert G. Hughes several years later after a tragic traffic accident claimed the life of her predecessor, Laurie Simon.

“Lois was a very private individual in her personal life, but in birthday notes and comments to me she would always thank me for the opportunities provided to her.” Staples added that despite his frequent attempts to interview La Croix for a much-deserved story about her contributions, she resisted all such invitations.

La Croix is survived by her mother, Louise, of New Jersey. The funeral is private. A memorial service is being planned by the seminary with details to follow. Ms. La Croix requested that all donations in her memory for use in staff emergencies be sent to the Lois La Croix Staff Assistance Fund, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119, or call 215.248.6324.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pr. John Huneke, LTSP Class of 1956, has died

Pr. Huneke at the 2010
LTSP commencement
The Rev. Dr. John Huneke ('56), an MDiv graduate of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), has died. He served as pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, New York, since 1973, his fourth pastorate in a long and faithful career that spanned more than 50 years. His long ministry serves as an example of faithful stewardship, as well as of pastoral leadership, providing a ministry of compassion, presence, and proclamation of God’s gift of justification by God’s grace through faith.

Pastor Huneke was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 6, 1931. He graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953; completed some preliminary MDiv coursework at Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1953-54; and entered The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in fall 1954, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1956. He continued his education at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was awarded the Master of Theology degree in 1958. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia at the 2010 commencement, where seminary President Philip D. W. Krey cited Pr. Huneke "for his exemplary stewardship and pastoral leadership and his compassionate presence" in making use of God's gifts to serve others.

Like St Francis, who used to renovate urban churches in the 13th century, Pr. Huneke spent a generation renovating the building and mission of Reformation Church in Brooklyn, a congregation with a long connection to LTSP. The Honorable Charles A. Schieren, turn-of-the-twentieth century mayor of Brooklyn, merchant, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, gave LTSP the Charles A. Schieren chair, now held by the Rev. Dr. Katie Day. The Honorable mayor also gave Reformation a stunning stained glass window as a tryptich with Jesus as teacher, healer, and one who blessed children. 

Pastor Huneke continued this philanthropic tradition by providing, through the ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission, an endowment for scholarship aid for students at LTSP from the Metropolitan New York Synod, especially students of color from the seminary's joint program with Wagner College. 

Pr. Huneke's funeral will be on Friday at 10:30 am at the N.F. Walker of Queens Funeral Home, 87-34 80th St, Woodhaven, NY 11421. Metropolitan New York Synod Bishop Robert Rimbo will preside.

You can read more about Pr. Huneke and watch his address at LTSP's 2010 commencement here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

PS Portions September 2013

PS Portions

A Taste of Seminary Happenings

September 2013

From President Phil Krey
150th Anniversary Scholarship Initiative

I've just come from bringing greetings to our new students as we open our 150th academic year. I am always excited to hear from students of their commitment to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by undertaking seminary training. Hearing their inspired expressions reminds me of one of my key objectives as my 15-year presidency here at LTSP winds down. That objective is to put on a firm foundation a new $10 million 150th Anniversary Scholarship initiative. The fulfillment of this anniversary initiative will make it possible for our deserving students to enter their careers in ministry debt-free! Won't you join many others who have decided to support the next generation of leaders for the church by making a commitment to this campaign?

Welcoming convocation features greetings, information for new LTSP seminarians

President Philip D.W. Krey welcomed new students to LTSP Tuesday, August 27, commending the students and entire seminary community in his audience for "taking up the challenge" to be leaders in today's church, including taking them on a brief Civil War journey.
      The seminary has about 350 students as part of all its programs. LTSP's student body includes individuals from Myanmar, Liberia, Ghana and South Korea. About 66 seminarians began their studies this calendar year. The President urged the student body to think beyond the immediate campus community to the regional community and beyond, and how to contribute to it. "Benefit from the diversity in our midst as a way of preparing yourself for public service." Read more about the Civil War journey and meet some of our new students!

Celebrating the Urban Theological Institute with the Rev. Dr. DeForest 'Buster' Soaries

The 33rd anniversary of the founding of the seminary's Urban Theological Institute (UTI) will be celebrated Tuesday, September 24 with the annual Lecture and Worship Celebration including a lecture and preaching by the Rev. Dr. DeForest "Buster" Soaries.
       Soaries is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. He formerly served as New Jersey's Secretary of State, and his work was featured in the acclaimed CNN documentary entitled "Almighty Debt." His lecture will be held at 11:15 am on Tuesday, September 24, in The Brossman Center on LTSP's campus. At 7:00 pm that evening he will preach at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. Read more about Dr. Soaries and the Celebration.

Marva Rice becomes first recipient of Dr. George Thompson PhD Scholarship

Marva Rice, who earned her Master of Arts in Religion from LTSP in 2007 and her Master of Sacred Theology in 2012, is the first recipient of the just-established Rev. Dr. George Thompson Scholarship for African American PhD students.
       Marva, an alumna of the Urban Theological Institute (UTI), for which Dr. Thompson taught for many years, was on hand August 23 as Dr. Thompson wrote his first installment check of $3,750 on a $7,500 gift to establish the scholarship. He will write a second check in the spring.
       A "kickoff" ceremony during Preaching with Power week in March, with Dr. Thompson present, will celebrate the establishment of the new scholarship. See the website more details!

Other items of interest:

Monday, September 16, 2013

New ELCA Presiding Bishop-elect Elizabeth Eaton to keynote 150th anniversary celebration dinner

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, newly elected Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has graciously accepted The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia's invitation to be the keynote speaker at its 150th anniversary gala dinner celebration on Thursday, October 16, 2014.

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton Eaton is Bishop of the ELCA's Northeastern Ohio Synod, and, with her installation October 5, 2013, she will become the first woman in the denomination's history to serve as Presiding Bishop. She was elected to the post this past August 14 during the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly held in Pittsburgh, PA. Prior to becoming synodical bishop in 2006, Eaton served as pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church, Ashtabula; as interim pastor of Good Hope Lutheran Church, Boardman; and as assistant pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church, Worthington, all in Ohio.

Eaton earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and a Bachelor's degree in music education from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. She currently serves on a number of boards and committees.

Watch the seminary's monthly enewsletter, PS Portions (sign up here), for updates on the exciting plans surrounding the gala dinner and the Presiding Bishop-elect's visit! Mark your calendars for a place at the dinner table! 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Lutheran Seminary receives $100,000 grant to underwrite new cooperative education initiative

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation funding aims to make theological education "more sustainable" for students, congregations, and the church. The initiative begins in 2014.

The Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) to underwrite a new theological education model entitled the Cooperative Master of Divinity.

"We are delighted to assist LTSP through this grant," said Richard Kleven, vice president of the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation. "We trust that this support will strengthen the initiative to those it serves."

The grant is part of the foundation's Lutheran Grant Program. This program is designed to assist Lutheran organizations and those they serve in achieving economic security and sustainability. In 2012, the program distributed more than $2 million in grants.

Eligible grant applicants include Lutheran congregations, regional divisions of the three largest church bodies, small church bodies, high schools, colleges, universities, seminaries, camps, campus ministries, social ministry organizations, and other independent Lutheran organizations or institutions.

The cooperative (co-op) model at LTSP will build on the strengths of other successful co-op models of higher education, such as those at Drexel and Northeastern Universities and the St. Paul School of Theology. Co-op students will complete their study and field education/internship concurrently over a period of three years rather than the traditional four years, eliminating a full year of living costs and expediting their entry into full time ministry. Congregational co-op sites, which would include both small congregations, perhaps unable to afford a pastor, and larger congregations that need additional staff, will benefit from three consecutive years of  pastoral leadership. In each case the emphasis will be on learning about, experiencing, and finally, leading a wide range of ministries. The initiative will also feature a strong spiritual formation component essential to preparing effective pastors who face intense social, financial and cultural challenges. A highly skilled pastor will serve as program coordinator for the initiative, supervising students, facilitating their relationships with their congregations, leading formation sessions, and serving as a guide and mentor throughout the program. The coordinator will also play a key role in recruiting congregations and students for the initiative and organizing an initial two-week course designed to orient and prepare students for entering into the parish. Reduced time to complete the program and a congregational stipend (covering tuition and fees) will be key to reducing students' financial obligations and debt load. The program, which begins in 2014, will admit six to eight students the first year, eight to 10 additional students in the second year, growing in subsequent years to 12-15 additional students.

In addition to reducing the financial burden for students, the co-op program is a financially sustainable model for the seminary. Currently, most full-time MDiv students receive an average of 40 percent of their tuition in grants from the seminary. Since tuition and fees for each co-op student are paid by the congregation, the seminary receives full tuition from each student. The money that would have gone to these students will be freed up to support additional students. The seminary also expects to attract a new crop of students, who are drawn to the strength of the co-op model and the shortened length of the program.

"Having adopted and implemented a new, flexible, affordable, and relevant curriculum, we hope that this new model will make theological education financially sustainable for both students and the wider church," said LTSP Dean J. Jayakiran Sebastian. "We thank the Thrivent Financial Foundation for upholding the vision of a sustainable model of theological education by underwriting this innovative venture, and we're excited about the possibilities that this initiative will open up."

The seminary, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2014, has over 350 enrollees in its variety of degree programs. During 2013, 79 students in 10 various programs began their studies. Most study to become church leaders such as pastors, youth directors, education directors, musicians, or advocates and administrators in social service agencies. While many seminarians are Lutherans, students from some 30 denominations have studied at the seminary in recent years.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a not-for-profit, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping approximately 2.5 million members achieve financial security through a broad range of financial products and services and at the same time give back to their communities. The Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation is a private foundation funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. As a 501©(3) organization, the foundation is operated exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, literary and educational purposes and makes grants and gifts to 501©(3) organizations.

Interested in being a Co-op Congregation? Call the Rev. Louise Johnson at 215.248.7313 or email

Interested in being a co-op student? Call the seminary admissions office at 215.248.7302 or email

Refer a student! Call the seminary admissions office at 215.248.7302 or email

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans