With Gratitude: A message from President Philip Krey

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Dear Friends:

President Philip Krey

I’ve just come from a meeting where we reviewed an outline of the seminary’s history. The outline is being used to generate an exciting, web-based history of the seminary to be unveiled before the end of next year as a part of a three-year celebration of the seminary’s 150th anniversary (October 2014). This historic celebration will be launched at the annual Spring Convocation in the spring of 2013 (April 30-May1).

The outline reminded me of so many remarkable chapters that have shaped our school. I’d forgotten about some of them. As someone whose life work in academia has focused on history, I began to think that the best histories — like the one that has blessed LTSP — sow seeds for a dynamic present and future, and I paused to give thanks for the journey we have taken so far — and the future we are moving toward.

Episodes in this issue focus on a new faculty member, Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes, who teaches Liturgy and Worship on our campus; Magdalena ya Shalongo, a seminarian from the young African nation of Namibia completing her DMin at LTSP; and a dedicated donor/alumnus, the Rev. P. Richard Grove and his wife, Nancy.

Cláudio sprang from poverty on the streets of Sao Paolo in Brazil to earn a PhD at Union Seminary in New York City. He has a powerful understanding of, and appreciation for, world cultures, music, and styles of worship. A Presbyterian, he brings to our classrooms a deep appreciation of Lutheran worship and its important place in the emerging global scene. I was so moved to read of the moment at Union when, in the midst of the commencement, he asked for just a moment, jumped from the platform and placed the hood just conferred upon him around his mother, who had come from Brazil to see her son awarded a teaching degree. It was surely a moment she could not have imagined years ago, or even moments before!

While the majority of our faculty is Lutheran, Dr. Carvalhaes and others who are integral members of the faculty are making it possible for LTSP to bring to life the ELCA’s full communion agreements (Ltsp.edu/ELCAFullCommunion). With these partnerships we are pleased to be able to call the finest faculty, who teach the Lutheran tradition as it takes shape in multicultural and diverse contexts. With them, we are committed to living out our vocation as an ELCA Seminary — distinctively Lutheran and intentionally ecumenical.

Then we meet Magdalena, who in 1992 became the first ordained woman in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia. She was eight months pregnant with her third child at the time, and nervous male officials tried to get her to postpone the proceedings. She refused. “I’ve waited too long for this!” she told those arranging the ceremonies. Her child was born a week later. Magdalena tells us she is lucky to be alive. In 1981, during the war that eight years later led to Namibia being awarded independence from South Africa, she was held at knifepoint for five minutes in an unprovoked act outside a post office by an angry South African soldier. She said nothing to her assailant, but just looked into his eyes. “This is your lucky day,” the soldier finally said, releasing her. The work of the Holy Spirit? Now, trained in organizational leadership, Magdalena returns to Namibia in December, perhaps to teach at her home seminary or lead in other ways in her young nation’s emerging church life.

Finally we have the generous dedication of the Groves. A 1964 graduate of the seminary, Dick served urban congregations and while called to Christ Lutheran Church at 30th and Diamond Streets in Philadelphia, shared an important history with Irma and Grover Wright. Today in retirement, Dick and Nancy are generous supporters of the rapidly growing Grover and Irma Wright Scholarship Fund that supports African American Lutheran leaders who are called to serve as rostered professionals in the church. This couple has donated $13,000 to support an African American student attending seminary this academic year.

I would be remiss if I failed to note my gratitude and thanksgiving for acts of service undertaken by LTSP faculty and staff in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. LTSP board member Pr. J. Elise Brown of Advent Lutheran Church in New York City coordinated the delivery of critically needed gasoline to LTSP alumni Pr. Jeff Laustsen of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Rockville Centre, NY, and Pr. Danielle Miller of Oceanside Lutheran Church, Oceanside, NY, areas both seriously in need due to the storm. Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Theology the Rev. Dr. Storm Swain brought 24 gallons, and Vice President for Mission Advancement the Rev. Louise Johnson and Associate Director of Admissions Matthew O’Rear delivered 52 gallons.

Three stories and an act of kindness that are among many I know make me thankful. Our unique history, in fact, made each of them possible because we stand on the shoulders of forebears who brought us to this place. These collective stories from yesterday and today breathe life into our educational mission even in times of trial. Because of them and because of you we seem poised to embrace a promising future.

Thank you! And thanks be to God who makes it all possible.

In Christ Jesus,

Philip Krey