From the President: The 150th Anniversary Celebration Continues – and Looking Toward the Future
Dear Friends in Christ:
The 150th Commencement of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) held at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, was a festive and celebratory event. Each year we see the results of our common work as we prepare leaders for the church and the world.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), received an honorary doctorate from LTSP at commencement for his leadership in public theology and adamant support of theological education which produces public leaders for a public church. Representing the Board of Trustees, Bishop Claire Burkat congratulated Dr. Hanson, calling him a “rock star.” When Dr. Hanson spoke, he engaged us in a reflection on the content of our faith and our ability to express it publicly. The senior class co-presidents, Karen Sease and Laura Tancredi, rose to the occasion in their wonderful address. You can read more in this issue of Portions.
As this was my last commencement as president, I was grateful that it was so memorable and representative of what we do as a seminary. Our offerings at LTSP are rich and diverse. I am so proud of this school. Not long after the commencement, the Rev. Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar led the annual Asian Theological Summer Institute in which Asian doctoral candidates and professors come to LTSP from all over the world to discuss their projects and mentor one another. This highly regarded program, funded by the Luce Foundation, has gained international reputation for LTSP thanks to the vision of Dr. Rajashekar and our current dean, Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian.
We have a robust entering class for the fall of 2014, including strong representation in the Master of Arts in Public Leadership Program (MAPL), which Dr. Jon Pahl has led so ably. There is also a cohort of MDiv students who have come because of the new MDiv Co-operative Model (Co-op), funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation, which simultaneously links study for theological education with service in congregations to reduce the cost of theological education. We are grateful to the congregations and supervisors who are willing to try this new venture with us.
As I write this editorial, I have just returned from a more than 1,300-mile annual circuit of Region 7 synod assemblies. At each of them I was grateful for the many good wishes from friends and alumni, even includinng a banquet in my honor hosted by Bishop Rimbo at the Metropolitan New York assembly and lovely gifts at the Upstate New York assembly with warm thanks for the many workshops on challenging issues I have done there — thank you! Perhaps the most memorable tribute, though, were the words Dr. Hanson succinctly provided in his commencement address. “When you strip the academic robes, degrees, books, presidential leadership, and fundraising from Phil Krey, you will find an urban parish pastor and a community organizer.” We prepare leaders at LTSP for the whole church and I am grateful for the generous words from Bishop Zeiser at the Northeastern Pennsylvania assembly, Bishop Bartholomew at the New Jersey assembly, and the moving Farwell and Godspeed Bishop Burkat led at the Southeastern Pennsylvania assembly. The only assembly I could not attend was the one to which I am assigned, the New England assembly. René and I had the wonderful joy of visiting in Baltimore our seventh grandchild, Naomi Joy Vollentine, born in May to our daughter Lindsay and her husband Nick Vollentine.
At each of the assemblies, I was able to invite everyone to the 150th anniversary of the seminary, which we celebrate Thursday, October 16, beginning at 6:00 pm at the Ballroom at the Ben at 834 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton, will be the keynote speaker. At each of the assemblies I was also able to commend the Board of Trustees for their excellent choice in my successor, the Rev. Dr. David Lose, and thank them for their kindness in granting me a sabbatical and a graceful and gentle transition.
Dear friends, you see why I love this wonderful school. Again and again I have asked you unabashedly to support it with your prayers, encouragement, and financial support. I have had the privilege of editing on behalf of the eight seminary presidents the series in The Lutheran called “Deeper Understandings.” The last five issues I will edit will be on the theology of giving. In my introduction to the giving series, in the July issue, I share that René and I have been tithers to our congregations when we made little and when we made much more. We do this primarily because early on in our ministry we experienced the witness of laypersons who with us believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and its ministries. In addition, we, along with so many of you, are also major givers to the seminary, and will continue to be supporters of the work of this wonderful school as we have added LTSP to our estate planning.
As I again this year watched our graduates cross the chancel at Trinity Lansdale and I traveled around the synods and saw the leaders that our giving and support have provided for the church, my joy is complete.