Service of Closing and Gathering mark LTSP’s Last Day
On June 30, 2017, over 200 gathered in the Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel on campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia to congregate, reflect, give thanks, sing, and pray for the history and legacy of the seminary and each other. All then walked across the way to The Brossman Center’s Benbow Hall for feast and fellowship. The gathering marked the final day of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia before joining the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg to become the Philadelphia Campus of United Lutheran Seminary, One Seminary on Two Campuses.
Dr. Michael Krentz, Dean of the Chapel (Philadelphia campus)/Seminary Cantor, organized the event, and the Rev. Dr. J. Elise Brown, United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) Board of Trustees Chair, served as Presiding Minister at the service. There were reflections by alumni Linda Manson and Cean James, and faculty member Robert Robinson, and song leadership by alumna and staff member Yvonne Lembo. Sharing their reflections and assisting in ministry were alumni Jay Mitchell, Audrey Moody, and Mercedes Lee.
Those gathered included many current students, alumni, current and former faculty and staff, friends of LTSP, members of the Northwest Philadelphia area, and clergy and members from congregations in the Mt. Airy community and beyond, each remembering in their own way the legacy of LTSP. Included in the attendees was alumnus the Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Echols, who served on the faculty before becoming LTSP dean, and went on to become president of Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he served up to his retirement in 2011.
Some thoughts from those attending and sent in remembrance of LTSP:
Kathie Afflerbach (MAR 2009), Advancement Services Administrator, ULS
I felt raw emotions and a sense of grief but at the same time gratitude to have been a part of this community that will continue to lift each other up during this time of transition and beyond. The service was everything it needed to be: the space allowing for sadness and loss; inspiration of the music, prayers, reflections; and the space to hug, cry, and lean on one another ― and reflected the gravity of the moment of an appreciation of the history, yet the anticipation and excitement of the next chapter.
Trina Johnsten, Vice President, Student Services and Enrollment, ULS
How wonderful it was to see Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel full to capacity, with latecomers lining the back wall. It was such a sign of how important LTSP has been in the life of generations of students, staff, faculty, and those we serve in this region. While there was definitely a feeling of loss and an acknowledgement of something ending, there was also, as we shared hymns, prayers, and reflections, such strong conviction in the faithfulness of God and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, that the general tone was more of thankfulness and anticipation for what the future holds for this beloved place. And then we all adjourned to Benbow for a final toast to The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and a feast in honor of the new United Lutheran Seminary.
Dennis Trotter, Senior Vice President for Advancement, ULS
To be gathered in Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel with nearly 200 others to worship and to listen to the prayers, testimonies, and reflections of those who spoke of their love for the seminary and its influence on their lives was a powerful and humbling experience. In the midst of significant loss and grief there was a tangible sense of hope and encouragement as the Spirit moved among those gathered to witness both a passing and a birth. It was a manifestation of what is one of the great blessings that comes with being a member of a faith community, that we press forward in faith and joy despite our inability to fully understand the reasons for our circumstances and that we trust God to both comfort us in our need and strengthen us for the work ahead.
Karol Mason, Current ULS student and Executive Assistant to the Senior VP for Advancement, ULS
The Closing Reception was truly memorable! Everyone was festive, enjoying the fare, sharing stories and smiling ― discussing what was and what we will be as we charter new territory as a new creation in God ― the United Lutheran Seminary. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff were full in both their spirits and within their bellies. You could not have asked for a better way to end and begin anew!
Jay Mitchell (MDiv 2014), LTSP Alumnus
As I said good bye to The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, the opportunity with which the closing worship presented me was the ability to ponder the following:
This is the place where, yes, I studied and grew into my understanding of my vocation, where I learned and challenged myself on how to live into my love of God and God’s people. But it is so much more. This is where I made so many friends and met so many colleagues. This is where I played and experimented in ways to relate the love of God with the wounded world we live in. This is where I celebrated so many milestones with so many people. And, if I’m honest, it is where I still live. And, yes, I mourn the passing of so great an institution.
At the same time I rejoice that God is, indeed, doing a new thing to prepare so many people to serve God’s church. And I rejoice that through creativity and vision, there is an opportunity for so many more generations of leaders to experience what I experienced in seminary: studying, growing, learning, challenging, playing, experimenting among some amazing mentors and teachers, great students, and a whole community of faith that spans generations, countries, denominations, and calls. And I am excited to see what God will continue to do in this corner of Christ’s church.
May God continue to journey with so many who hold such close ties to what was, and journey with those who are journeying into the future with a new name, perhaps a new community, but still the amazing people of God here.
The Rev. Dr. Esther L. Seales (MDiv 1996, STM 2010, DMin 2002), Pastor, Tyree AME Church, Philadelphia
Thank you for accepting me and giving me an opportunity to prepare for a lifetime of ministry.
The Rev. Mark English (MDiv 1978), Pastor, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, McClure, Ohio
Grateful for a solid foundation, compassionate equipping, a school, professors and program of which I am proud. Glad to have served on the Alumni Executive Board and as a field ed supervisor. Glad for the continuing ed offered post-graduation.
Mark Staples, Retired Communications Director, LTSP
Spent 18 memorable years as director of communications and director of Faith and Life Institute. So many incredible students and faculty and staff!
The Rev. Romeo Dabee (MDiv 2005, STM 2012), Chaplain, Christ for the World Chapel, JFK International Airport, New York, New York
Thank you for moulding me!
Watch a slide show from the closing worship, the campus on the last day as LTSP, and the reception:
Click here to go to the photo gallery.