Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Familiar Faces - Meet Trinity Lutheran Church's Pastor Eugene Zaiser

LTSP Alumnus and Trinity Lutheran Church, Bechtelsville, PA, Pastor Eugene Zaiser is profiled in the Tuesday, December 21, 2010 issue of The Boyertown Area Times Familiar Faces column. You can read the article online on the website.

The article notes that Pr. Zaiser was born in California and came to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he felt called to go into ministry and attended LTSP. He has been pastor at Trinity for about twelve years.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Alfeia DeVaughn Goodwin MAR '10: Making History While Keeping Humble

LTSP MAR Alum Alfeia DeVaughn Goodwin's journey through faith, life and the military is told in a story online in The Bulletin (Philadelphia). From the story:

The story of how Chaplain Captain Alefeia DeVaughn Goodwin (Pennsylvania’s 56th Stryker Brigade) of Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy section, realized her dream to become a Captain in the Army as well as the nation’s first African American Army Chaplain, is unusual in many respects.

Read the story and view pictures on The Bulletin website:

photo from The Bulletin online

(editor's note, they did spell Alfeia's name incorrectly in the story and headline)

The Rev. Dr. Ed Oestreich '58 publishes poetry collection

this information is from alum Walter I. Hitchcock, Class of 1957

The Rev. Dr. Ed Oestreich, class of 1958, has written and published a book of original and, as you might expect from Ed, beautiful and poignant poetry. The collection of poems is titled Far From Home.

Following his ordination, Dr. Oestreich served St. Stephen’s, Allentown, Pa., then moved on from there to his home state of New York where he served the following churches: Christ, Wantagh; St. Philip, Brooklyn; Trinity, Hollis; and St, Paul, New City. Dr. Oestreich now resides on the rocky coast of Maine in the little town of Damariscotta. Until recently he operated an antiques shop, part of which was his living quarters in a 200-year-old house in which this book of oft-nostalgic poetry was written. In vivid verse he remembers his father, mother sister, and even a couple of his aunts!

The New York Times best seller author, Douglas Preston (Cities of Gold, Monster of Florence, etc.) has this to say: “I have been reading the poems of Ed Oestreich with enormous pleasure. His keen and graceful eye examines a wide variety of human experiences, compassing the cycles of life, the vicissitudes of growing old, the small pleasures of nature and the roll of the seasons. These lovely poems, no matter what their subject, are somehow imbued with the quiet rhythm of life on the seacoast of Maine. I wholeheartedly recommend this wonderful book of poetry.”

Kelly Patton, professional theater director and author writes, in part: “Many of these poems speak to the melancholy loss of growing older, but always followed with words-of an exquisite ‘returning’ in recollection…..”

The book can be purchased directly from Dr. Oestreich at 278 Biscay Road, Damariscotta, ME 04543, and also the publisher, Goose River Press, 3400 Friendship Road, Waldoboro, ME 04572. Cost is 14.95 plus shipping. It’s well worth it!

Wednesday, December 8, 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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Philadelphia pastor lives with HIV - and preaches about it

LTSP alum The Rev. Andrena Ingram, pastor of St. Michael's Lutheran Church ELCA in Germantown, tells her story in a column by writer Annette John-Hall in the Nov. 23 Philadelphia Inquirer. The column was on page one of the Local section, and is online.

While a student at LTSP, Andrena told her story, Andrena 'set free', to The Lutheran in 2005.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Share your latest!

Have something to share? Life change? New call? Something to celebrate? Share in the comments area...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Evening Shared - eCONNECTION Fall 2010


A Reflection on Christian-Muslim Relations

The Rev. Dr. David G. Grafton, Associate Professor, Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and Director of Graduate Studies, shared this email, written 8/29/2010, with his LTSP colleagues.

Dear Colleagues,

This last Friday my family and I were, once again, invited to a friend’s house for iftar, the breaking of the fast for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. We had a wonderful evening of food, friendship, and sharing of texts. We were not only seated at the family table and served a delicious meal of home cooked goods, but we found ourselves engaged in a conversation about Moses being “tongue tied” and his speech before Pharaoh in both the Qur’an and Exodus. All the of the teenagers, both veiled and not, were bored with our conversation and watched David Hasselhoff attempting to sing and dance on the television. (Is that really assimilation?) The meal began with a blessing from the Faithah, the first chapter of the Qur’an, and concluded with my prayer from Psalm 104. It was a wonderful evening.

This morning at church I was greeted by the words of Christ: “You will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you” (Lk 14:10). I was struck how my family and I had experienced this Gospel lesson for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. We received Christ’s teachings and his hospitality in the home and invitation of a Muslim family.

David Grafton

Join the conversation - post your comments below.

Prof. Grafton explored Bible and Qur'ān - A Comparative Approach for the 2010 Fall Forum 2010 - watch his keynote lectures.

The 411 on the Emerging Church - eCONNECTION Fall 2010

The Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Assistant Professor of Homiletics

Imagine attending a church service in a warehouse-type space with few elements that resemble traditional church anywhere in the room except for an altar with a foot high cross in the center. On one side of the room is a seven piece band with electric guitars, drums, bongos, violin, acoustic guitar, and vocalists. The band is playing a U2 song and hymns from around the globe to reflect our connectivity on a global scale. In several of the corners of the room are worship centers – a communion table, a prayer wall on which to place prayer cards, an art station to express your creative side, and a Lectio Divina station to intentionally focus on the Word. Seated in the room are persons with a variety of religious experiences, from diverse denominational backgrounds, from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, reflecting a wide range of age and socio-economic statuses, and a diversity of familial situations. Like the worship space, the people present are dressed casually. They are relaxed and seem to be extremely passionate about the experience. The service is infused with energy and the folks are engaged in praising God and connecting to each other.1 This is a new kind of church – a church trying to BE the church in new and exciting ways. Worship is one element of this lived reality; the other is next door to the church: a church run thrift shop and ministry center that addresses the needs of the surrounding community. This community of faith is not concerned with doing what has always been done in the church, because they know that for many in the room continuing what is normative was what drove them from the traditional church in the first place. Those within the movement, however, do not condemn or deny the place of the traditional church. Instead, they acknowledge that some are thirsting for something different, and they strive to provide that.

This worship description is an example of an Emerging Church. Like other Christian traditions, they believe in the transformational power of Jesus and tell his story every chance they get. They are not focused on bricks and mortar. They are all about mission, living within their community in intentional ways, worshiping in a passionate and contextualized manner, and ministering with communal outreach. The Emerging Church is a movement clearly reflected within some mainline denominations, but exists outside of any denominational structure as well. The Emerging Church is focused on attracting both churched and unchurched folks to create new communities of faith. It is focused on being the body of Christ incarnationally in the world – being the hands and feet of Christ in their daily walk. Some within the Emerging Church
self-identify as emergent, while others are just trying to find a new way to reach people regardless of labels. However, they all fully embrace the fact that our culture has shifted from a “church culture” to a “secular culture.” Those within the movement believe that the Church will survive only by embracing that fact and by intentionally changing to create communities that reflect this new paradigm.2

The Emerging Church Movement is attempting to revitalize the church, much like Luther did 500 years ago. Changing times have throughout history called for different methods to spread the gospel. The church is constantly being reformed and changed – sometimes subtly and sometimes with cataclysmic results. This movement wants to tap into the changing dynamics of postmodern culture to create a new landscape to experience God.3 The interesting thing about this movement is it cannot be fixed or defined universally – it is expressed in a number of very different realities based on the needs of that particular community of faith. Culture is still shifting, and the church needs to be flexible enough to shift with it – thus the evolution is not complete. So they are living into what they believe the church might be in the future. They are living into a reality where the church is relevant to a younger, postmodern generation and to their needs; however, it is not limited to any one age group. Emerging Churches see themselves as a community being the church in the world instead of folks “going to church.”4 For some, the Emerging Church is going too far, but the last time I left a traditional worship service I can say definitively that I did not hear my pre-teen say, “Mom that was so cool. I was engaged and thought church was something for me.” He is the audience, the congregation, of the future. Will his needs be met by the traditional church? I don’t yet know. But I hope the Church continues to stretch and grow to meet the needs of the generations to come. If not, he, like others, will be looking for the nearest Emerging Church to call his faith home.

Join the conversation - post your comments below.


1 The service described in this paragraph occurred at Circle of Hope, a community of faith of the Brethren In Christ Church, at Broad and Washington in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday, September 26, 2010. It is very typical of a worship service of the Emerging Church.
2 Edward Hammett and James R. Pierce. Preaching People Under 40 while Keeping People over 60: Being Church for all Generations. (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2007), 7.
3 Rob Bell. Velvet Jesus: Repainting the Christian Faith. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 12.
4 Dan Kimball. The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations. (Grand Rapids, MI: Emergent YS/Zondervan, 2003), 95. This phrase, while difficult for many to hear, is an important dynamic for church leaders to grasp. Many postmoderns and emerging church participants have experienced church in this way in the past and crave a different way of expressing their faith. The phrase clearly does not reflect the reality for many in the traditional churches who passionately worship, do vital ministry, and live missionally. These persons typically have not found that in their own experiences with the traditional church.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bible and Qur'ān - A Comparative Approach: Fall Forum 2010

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"

More on Fall Forum

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Rev. Leslie E. Evans MDiv '82, nurse and Episcopal priest, has died

The Rev. Leslie E. Evans, 64, of Bristol Township, a nurse, Episcopal priest, and college and prison chaplain, died of encephalopathy on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township.

The remainder of the story is on, website of The Philadelphia Inquirer:

(Photo from

Wednesday, November 3, 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:

Monday, November 1, 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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

LTSP Alumnus and seminarian join staff at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, King of Prussia, PA

In September, LTSP alum The Rev. Julie DeWerth ('91) was welcomed as pastor and LTSP junior Jonathan Steiner along with music director Steve McBride were sited in an article from the King of Prussia Courier posted online, including a video with Pr. DeWerth. View the article and video (photo of Pr. DeWerth from Main Line Media News)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rev. William E. Dennis '50 has died

from the Pocono Record:

Rev. William E. Dennis, 83, of Stroudsburg, died on Saturday, Oct. 9, at home. He was the husband of Selina (Sheridan) Dennis at home. He was preceded in death by his first wife of 51 years, S. Evelyn (Moll) Dennis, who died in 2001.

Dennis graduated from Stroudsburg High School in 1945 and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, the class of 1947 with an AB degree. From there he attended the Philadelphia Theological Seminary, graduating in 1950 with his theological degree. Later he earned his Master of Sacred Theology from the seminary's graduate school. He continued his education in the field of creative behavior by attending summer courses.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, from the Thomas Funeral Home, 401 N. Fifth St., Stroudsburg, with the Rev. Gail Kees officiating. Burial will take place in Stroudsburg Cemetery. Calling hours will be from 11 a.m. until time of service at the funeral home.

Read the complete obituary online from the Pocono Record:

The Rev. Donald W. Wert '59 has died

from the Allentown Morning Call:

The Rev. Donald W. Wert, 77, of Lehighton, died Thursday, October 7, 2010 at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township. He was the husband of Janice Ruth (Reichard) Wert. The couple celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary last July 31. Born in Catasauqua, May 29, 1933, Donald was the son of the late Raymond E. and Mildred G. (Kidd) Wert. He graduated from Catasauqua High School, Moravian College and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1959. He was ordained on May 23, 1959 by the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, fulfilling his long-time aspirations of becoming a pastor.

A memorial service will be held 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at Union Evangelical Lutheran Church, 5500 Route 873, Schnecksville. Family and friends may pay their respects from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the church.

Read the complete obituary online from the Allentown Morning Call:

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Music is Prayer:" Reconsidering Secular Music

"Music is Prayer:" Reconsidering Secular Music, an article written by LTSP Professor Jon Paul, 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:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

West Long Branch church welcomes new pastor Matthew Cimorelli

from the Asbury Park Press/, 10/3/10:

For the first time in more than two years, a permanent pastor on Sunday presided over services at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation which lost its former leader, the popular Rev. Dr. Alfred C. Acer when he died unexpectedly in June 2008.

The Rev. Matthew Cimorelli (MDiv 2003), 46, will be formally installed at ceremonies Nov. 7 but was introduced Sunday to the congregation after he said he accepted the call of Bishop Roy Riley who believed Cimorelli would be a good match for the activist congregation.

read the story online:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thomas F. Irwin Jr. installed at Calvary Lutheran Church, Laureldale

from the Reading Eagle online 9/25/10

The Rev. Thomas F. Irwin Jr. will be installed Sunday at 3 p.m. as the new pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church, Laureldale. Presiding at the installation will be the Rev. Carol Kehler, dean of the East Berks Mission District, and deaconness Deborah Matern Graf, associate of the bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (photo from Reading Eagle online)

Irwin previously was pastor of Zion Spies Lutheran Church, Alsace Township. He graduated from Widener University and has a master of divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

He and his wife, Suzanne, have two adult daughters, Jane and Kathryn.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

LTSP Alum Wolfgang Herz-Lane installed as Del-Md Synod Bishop

The Rev. Worfgang Herz-Lane was installed as bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA on Saturday, September 18, 2010 in Baltimore, MD. Bishop Herz-Lane is a 2001 MDiv graduate of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). He served as a parish pastor in Camden, NJ before being elected to the six year term as synod bishop at the synod's 2010 Assembly on June 12. ELCA Presiding Bishop the Rev. Mark Hanson delivered the sermon. Also installed at the service as an assistant to the bishop was LTSP alum the Rev. Ed Kay.

The Baltimore Sun's story is here:,0,2837679.story

The synod has more on the story and an interview with Bishop Herz-Lane on its website:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rev. Richard Stephens, class of 1960, has died

The Rev. Richard D. Stephens, 78, of Harleysville, retired pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Kulpsville, died Thursday, Sept. 9, of kidney cancer at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville.

His obituary was published Monday, September 13, in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

funeral will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at Christ Lutheran Church, 2211 Sumneytown Pike, Kulpsville, Pa. 19443. Friends may call from 10 a.m. Donations may be made to the church.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

LTSP Begins 147th Academic Year with Worship; Convocation features alumni experience in ministry

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.
Opening Day 2010 in pictures:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Alumnus Phares O. Reitz ('39) has died

This information from the NEPA Synod:

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod
announces with sorrow the death of

The Rev. Phares O. Reitz
Born April 20, 1917
Died July 15, 2010

The Rev. Phares O. Reitz died Thursday, July 15.

Although not the oldest pastor in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, he was the longest serving, having been ordained on May 24, 1939, at the age of twenty-two.

Following his ordination, Pastor Reitz served Berrysburg-Lykens in Dauphin County (1939-1950); St. John, Hamburg (1950-1956); and St. Stephen, Allentown (1957-1975). From 1975 until his retirement in 1981, he was the administrative assistant to the president (bishop) of the synod.

A memorial service for Pastor Phares Reitz will be held on Tuesday, July 20, at 2:00 p.m. at Egner Memorial Chapel on the campus of Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew Street, Allentown. The family will receive guests in Moyer Hall (next to the chapel) following the service.

Pastor Reitz is survived by two sons, Thomas and Philip, and two daughters, Martha and Ruth. He was predeceased by his wife, Eleanor (Lippiatt) Reitz. Condolences may be sent to his daughter, Martha Reitz, at 2629 W Pennsylvania Street, Allentown PA 18104.

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.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pastors paddle after Muhlenberg: Reading Eagle

When Lutheran bishop Samuel R. Zeiser takes to the Schuylkill River in a canoe Thursday near Hamburg, he will evoke the travels of 18th century pastor Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, principal organizer of American Lutheranism, on the same river.

Read the story including its fundraising purpose in the Reading Eagle:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Juan Cobrda, Former Bishop of ELCA Slovak Zion Synod, Dies

This story is from the ELCA News Service, July 7, 2010. Bishop Cobrda received a Master of Sacred Theology (STM) from LTSP in 1984. The Slovak Zion Synod, in addition to the synods in ELCA Region 7, relate to LTSP as their seminary.

Juan Cobrda, Former Bishop of ELCA Slovak Zion Synod, Dies


The Rev. Juan CobrdaCHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Juan Cobrda, former bishop of the Slovak Zion Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), died July 1 after an illness. Cobrda, 79, was also a former bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (UELC) in Argentina.

A funeral service for Cobrda will be held July 9 at Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church, Chicago.

Cobrda, who was retired and resided in Mundelein, Ill., resigned as Slovak Zion bishop in 2002, one year earlier than the end of his second term. In his resignation letter Cobrda cited his 44 years of ordained ministry and an ongoing synod restructuring process as reasons for his decision to leave as bishop.

Cobrda was born in 1930 in Pribovce Turiec, Czechoslovakia. His family immigrated to Argentina in 1948. From 1955 to 1958, Cobrda attended Lutheran Theological Seminary, Jose C. Paz, Buenos Aires, and in 1959 he attended Hamma School of Theology, Springfield, Ohio. In 1984 he earned a master of sacred theology degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). In 1988 he earned a doctorate at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio. LTSP and Trinity are among eight ELCA seminaries.

Cobrda began a lengthy career in ministry in 1954, serving as a lay preacher at two Slovak-Spanish congregations in Berisson and Buenos Aires, Argentina, until 1958, when he was ordained by the UELC in Argentina.

Between 1960 and 1972 Cobrda was pastor of five different congregations in Argentina, and was bishop of the UELC in Argentina from 1966 to 1976. He served as a vice president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) from 1970 to 1977. The LWF is a global communion of 140 Lutheran churches in 79 countries, representing more than 70 million Lutherans.

Before he became bishop of the ELCA Slovak Zion Synod Cobrda was pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Trenton, N.J.; El Redentor Iglesia, Buenos Aires; Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Akron, Ohio; and Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church. He was first elected Slovak Zion Synod bishop in 1993 and was re-elected to a six-year term as synod bishop in 1997.

During his career Cobrda served a four-year term on the board of ELCA Global Mission and a three-year term on the Slovak Zion Synod Council. He frequently assisted and made pastoral visits to Lutheran churches in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Yugoslavia. Cobrda also worked as an advocate for refugees, including a three-year term as chair of the Argentinean Committee for Refugees.

Cobrda was fluent in English, German, Slovak and Spanish.

Cobrda is survived by his wife, Sofia, and their two children, Analia and Juan III.

The ELCA Slovak Zion is one of 65 synods of the ELCA, and is the church's only non-geographic synod. It is based in Torrington, Conn.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lutheran Bishop-elect Wolfgang Herz-Lane looks back on 35 years in Camden

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Kevin Riordan tells about LTSP alum the Rev. Wolfgang Herz-Lane's ministry in Camden as Pr. Herz-Lane prepares to lead the Delaware-Maryland synod as bishop:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Death of Pastor Charles E. Mertz

The Rev. Charles E. Mertz, LTSP Class of 1957, BD, died Thursday, June 10.

Following his ordination in 1957, Pastor Mertz served Zion, Spring City, PA; Peace, Cornwells Heights, PA; St. John, Tremont, PA; Zion, Donaldson, PA; Christ's United, Ashland, PA; and Reformation, Reiffton, PA. He retired in 1992.

A service will be held on Monday, June 14, at 1:00 p.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church, 3670 Perkiomen Avenue, Reiffton.

Pastor Mertz is survived by his children, Elisa, Kathryn, John and Eric. He was predeceased by his wife, Jean Ann (Schoenberger) Mertz. Condolences may be sent to his daughter Kathryn Jacoby, 21584 LeFevere Inn St., Broadlands VA 20148.

(information from LTSP records and the Northeastern PA Synod, ELCA, 6/11/10)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Death of Delores Russell Brown (MDiv 2005)

Good day all,

Pr. Andrena Ingram has passed along this information about Delores Russell Brown, LTSP alum (MDiv UTI 2005):

Giving thanks for the life of another classmate of mine who passed away this week: Delores Russell Brown, who entered the Church Triumphant on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. Her funeral is Thursday, June 3, 2010: Triumph Baptist Church - Germantown and Hunting Park. Viewing 9 am - 11 am, with service immediately following. Condolences to Elaine Brown and family

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dr. Dirk Lange (MDiv, STM 2001) awarded Lilly Theological Research Grant

ST. PAUL, Minn. (May 13, 2010) — Dr. Dirk Lange, associate professor of worship, Luther Seminary, is the recipient of a 2010-11 Lilly Theological Research Grant for the project, “Rethinking Communal Prayer: A Baptismal Discipline.”

Dr. Lange will use the grant to research the topic of communal prayer as a form of resistance. He will study the ways underground prayer groups in communist East Germany lived out a testimony that brought them into a significant dialogue with a secular society. He will then examine the impact communal prayer can have on the life and witness of faith communities in North America.

“The faculty fellowship will allow me to pursue a longstanding goal: not only to document the courageous witness of many Christians under oppression in the former East Germany but also to explore what role communal prayer plays in resistance,” Lange said. He expects that his research, which will be primarily in Leipzig, Germany, will result in a book on the topic.

“This impressive grant not only highlights Dirk Lange’s strength as a global scholar and professor of worship, but it also gives recognition to the overall strength of the Luther Seminary faculty,” said Luther Seminary President Richard Bliese.

Lange, who joined the Luther Seminary faculty in 2008, holds Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) (2001) and a Doctor of Philosophy from Emory University, Atlanta (2005). He had served on the LTSP faculty before joining Luther Seminary. During the 1980s, as a Brother of Taizé, he worked with church leaders and many lay people involved with prayer groups in the Eastern European underground.

The grant is awarded by the Association of Theological Schools in partnership with Lilly Endowment Inc. Dr. Lange received a Faculty Fellowship, the largest of four levels of grants offered. Twenty total grants were given this year through the program, which seeks to encourage high-quality research across the theological disciplines by scholars at all stages of their careers.
Lilly Endowment was founded in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. The Endowment – a private philanthropic foundation – is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. It is devoted to the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment supports a wide variety of efforts to enhance the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. It also funds projects designed to promote informed dialogue about religion in American life, generate new knowledge, communicate fresh insights, and renew and sustain vital institutions of American Christianity.

(source: Luther Seminary Communications)

Rev. Fred T. Crawford III (MDiv '70) celebrates 40th anniversary in ministry

(online story from - Pottsville Republican)

MAHANOY CITY - May 20, 2010 -There are four words that the Rev. Fred T. Crawford III considers to be important in his four decades in ministry: thanks, remember, blessing, we.

On Sunday, Crawford celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination in a special worship service at Christ Lutheran Church in Mahanoy City. Although he retired from full-time ministry in 2006, Crawford provides part-time ministry to the Mahanoy City church.

Read the full story: