News (Blog) Posts

Carlsons Accept Call to Be Co-Pastors in Kearney Nebraska

17-06 (Sunday, July 2, 2017) The Rev. Dr. Richard Carlson and the Rev. Dr. Michelle Carlson have announced that they have received and accepted calls to serve as co-pastors of First Lutheran Church in Kearney, NE. 

Richard Carlson, who was named to the inaugural faculty of United Lutheran Seminary, has taught New Testament and administered contextual education and post internship candidacy at Gettysburg Seminary since 1990, and for more than a decade as the Glatfelter Professor of Biblical Studies.  He served in parishes in north Minnesota from 1983 to 1990, after receiving degrees from Concordia College (BA), Wartburg Seminary (MDiv.), and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (Ph.D). Michelle Carlson, has served as pastor of Mt. Zion Haugh’s Lutheran Church in Keymar, MD since 2008. As an adjunct or visiting professor, she has taught at Gettysburg Seminary, Lancaster Seminary, Wesley Seminary and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary (Garrett Seminary).  She received her MDiv degree from Gettysburg in 2001 and PhD. In congregational studies from Garrett Seminary in Evanston, IL, in 2009. She has taught Christian education and directed Lifelong Learning for Gettysburg Seminary in recent years. 

“For over a quarter century Prof. Rick Carlson has “opened the Scriptures” for seminarians and so many others throughout the church,” said the Rev. Dr. Kristin Largen, Co-Dean of United Lutheran Seminary. “He has also played a key role in Gettysburg Seminary’s outstanding contextual education and leadership formation programs.  During the past decade Dr. Michelle Carlson has shared her wisdom teaching Christian education courses and directing Gettysburg’s lifelong learning programs for several years. And, Largen concluded, “both have been valuable colleagues to fellow members of the faculty.”

The Rev. Dr. Theresa F. Latini, President of United Lutheran Seminary, summed up the response of a grateful seminary community, saying “we express our profound gratitude to both Rick and Michelle Carlson for their outstanding contributions to seminary life and learning.” She continued, “That they now embrace co-pastoring a parish is but further evidence of their commitment to respond to God’s call and serve among the faithful in the ELCA’s Nebraska Synod.”

This call to serve as co-pastors will represent the first time that the two have worked directly together as ordained leaders in a church setting.  The Carlsons are expected to begin their ministry at First Lutheran Church in Kearney this coming August 1st.


Two Historic Pennsylvania Seminaries Become United Lutheran Seminary July 1


June 28, 2017 (Gettysburg and Philadelphia, Penn.) At the exact midpoint of the 500th anniversary year of Martin Luther’s initiation of the 16th Century Reformation, two American theological seminaries will become one school. At the stroke of midnight, July 1, 2017 Gettysburg Seminary and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia will form United Lutheran Seminary on two campuses, one in Gettysburg and one in Philadelphia.

Founded in 1826, Gettysburg Seminary is the oldest continuing Lutheran theological school in the Americas and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia got its start in 1864. Together the schools have graduated more than 10,000 church leaders who have served in religious and public contexts.

“The United Lutheran Seminary is a new venture founded on rich traditions,” said Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, speaking for the 3.8-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). “It brings together urban and rural, Lutheran and ecumenical ministries,” she added.

United Lutheran Seminary opens with 325 students and 21 faculty members, with another 50 staff members working across the two campuses. The decision to unite came from a determination by both schools’ boards in January 2016 to create a stronger single theological seminary, one that could offer premier programs on both campuses, sustain a larger faculty than either alone, and offer enhanced learning formats in distributed, online and hybrid class settings. The campuses are located at 7301 Germantown Avenue, in Northwest Philadelphia and 61 Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  

As the united school comes into being, it will also receive its first leader, the Rev. Dr. Theresa F. Latini, who will assume the office of United Lutheran Seminary President as of July 1st.  As the leader of the new theological school, Latini said the “strength of United Lutheran Seminary comes from its trust in God’s grace and its call to join Jesus’ ministry of healing, justice, and reconciliation.” She added “Our wide array of educational programs as well as our communal practices of worship and care will prepare students for faithful and innovative ministry in the twenty-first century.”

With the new school comes a newly-designed, integrative curriculum. Kristin Johnston Largen and Kiran Sebastian, co-deans of the Seminary, emphasize that faculty will offer interdisciplinary perspectives in classrooms in ways that enrich the pedagogy for seminarians.

Student debt for graduate seminarians remains an issue in today’s religious communities. United Lutheran Seminary offers unprecedented financial aid for its students, with full tuition scholarships for eligible full time ELCA students and generous matching of grants to students from other traditions up to full tuition levels.

United Lutheran Seminary begins its life fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Association of Theological Schools. The Department of Education of the Commonwealth of PA has issued approval of the consolidation of the two schools. All current students have pathways to complete their degrees in the normal timetable according to the school’s deans.  

Both schools bring particular, distinctive gifts to the united school, with Philadelphia offering a specialized and broadly ecumenical Urban Theological Institute, and a large commuting population in the metropolitan area and Gettysburg contributing strong community life of residential learning and a commitment to green practices. The Gettysburg campus also features the award-winning Seminary Ridge Museum interpreting the national tensions of slavery and freedom in the historic seminary building that served as the largest fixed field hospital on the battlefield.

Even though President Latini will begin mid-summer, her inauguration is planned for November 2, 2017 in Lancaster, PA. She will live on both Gettysburg and Philadelphia campuses, and serve as Professor of Pastoral Theology as well. July 1st also marks the retirement of Gettysburg Seminary President Michael Cooper-White after 17 years at the helm, and President David Lose of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, begins a new call to serve as senior pastor of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, MN.

“May God bless students, faculty and staff as they set out on this journey together,” said Presiding Bishop Eaton, and “Godspeed!” to this new school.


The United Lutheran Seminary, the oldest of seven seminaries of the 3.8-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is a consolidation of Gettysburg Seminary and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. One seminary on two campuses, ULS prepares women and men to be outreach oriented public theologians and mission leaders. It provides programs in continuing studies, advanced theological education, and specialized educational programs for informed lay persons, ordained and other rostered church leaders. More information is available at the Seminary’s web site:, by email or by phone at 717.338.3000.


United Lutheran Seminary Names Staff

The following list identifies the staff named to date for United Lutheran Seminary, with additional operations, financial services, support and library staff to be named.  This list is up to date as of June 13, 2017.  All positions are full time unless marked part time (PT).

Advancement Services Administrator, Kathie Afflerbach
Co-Director of Technology & Director of Operations (Philly), Kyle Barger
Library Director, Evan Boyd
Director of Advancement Services, Conor Brooks
Director of Financial Aid, Kimberly Clark
Grounds Manager,(Philly), Jim Cratin
Technical Services Specialist, Andy Crouse
Maintenance Staff (Gburg), Dave Davies
Communication Assistant & Manger of Print & Mailroom, Grainne Davies Housekeeping (Gburg), Melanie DelSignore
Senior Major Gifts Officer, Vincent Dent
Associate Director of Admissions, Becca Ehrlich
Lieutenant, Night Watch Supervisor (Philly), Michael Fabian
Chief of Safety and Security, Operations Manager (Philly), Vince Ferguson
Night Watch Supervisor (Philly), Michael Fabian
Operations Manager/Chief of Security (Philly), Vince Ferguson
Custodian (Gburg), Randolph Fullerton
Chief Financial Officer, Scott Ganley
Director of Communications, Katy Giebenhain
Director of Life Long Learning, Chelle Huth
Contextual Formation, Life Long Learning & UTI Assistant, Lyn Jackson
VP Student Services and Enrollment, Trina Johnsten
Co-Dean of the Seminary, Kristin Largen
Housekeeping (Gburg, PT), Carole Laughman
Coordinator of Admissions Services, Marlita Lee
Major Gifts Officer, Regional Gift Planner ELCA, Yvonne Jones Lembo
Associate VP for Church Relations, President of the Gettysburg Seminary
Endowment Foundation, Glenn Ludwig
Gifts Processor (PT), Stella Ludwig
Executive Assistant to the Senior VP of Advancement, and Director of
Advancement Operations, Karol Mason
Executive Assistant to the President & Director of HR, Elizabeth Meighan Maintenance (Gburg), Randy Miller
Coordinator of Facilities & Maintenance (Philly), Kareem Mitchell Dir of Housing, Facilities & Special Events (Gburg), Wendy Mizenko Director of Director of Admissions, Nate Preisinger
Co-Director of Technology, Don Redman
Director of Maintenance & Project Management (Gburg), Dave Reecher
Educational Technologist & Assessment, Alex Reid
Deputy Chief of Security (Philly), Michael Reid
Reception/Switchboard (Gburg) Sherry Rippman
Registrar and Senior Assistant to the Dean, Julie Ritter
Director of Student Services, Heidi Rodrick-Schnaath
Visit, Scholarship & Student Life Support & Events Specialist, Bea Schultz
Co-Dean of the Seminary, Kiran Sebastian
Senior VP for Administration, John Spangler
Housekeeping (Gburg, PT) Taija Snyder
Senior VP for Advancement, President of the Lutheran Theological
Seminary Foundation, Dennis Trotter
Custodial Coordinator (Gburg), Shania West
Music, Gettysburg! Assistant, (PT) Dana Witt
Receptionist/Mailroom (Philly), Jim Ziebell
VP for Advancement, Angela Zimmann
Major Gifts Officer, Alumni/ae Relations Director, Marty Zimmann Assistant Registrar & Assistant to the Dean, Rachel Zimmerman

United Lutheran Seminary Names Theresa Latini As Its First President

April 20, 2017 (Gettysburg and Philadelphia) The United Lutheran Seminary named the Rev. Dr. Theresa F. Latini as the first president to lead the unified Seminary with campuses at Gettysburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

President-elect Latini, who will also be Professor of Practical Theology, will officially begin July 1, 2017, which is also the inaugural date of United Lutheran Seminary (ULS), a consolidation of two historic Lutheran Seminaries in Gettysburg and Philadelphia. ULS is the oldest seminary of the 3.8 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), dating to 1826.

Latini comes to the presidency with extensive experience in theological education as an educator and administrator. She has written two books and many articles on topics such as Christian vocation, congregational leadership, and racial reconciliation. She previously served as the George C. Weinman Chair of Pastoral Theology and Ministry at Luther Seminary and continues to advise students in Luther’s Ph.D. program. Currently, Latini is associate dean of diversity and cultural competency and professor of practical theology and pastoral care at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. She has expertise in conflict mediation and has consulted with congregations and judicatories throughout the United States.

Latini will lead the new theological school, whose roots run deep in Lutheran identity in America and broadly across historically ecumenical Christian commitments. “I am honored and humbled to be called to serve as the first president of United Lutheran Seminary. Grounded in the promises of God, this bold and innovative union of two historic Lutheran institutions will enable us to educate and empower public Christian leaders for confessionally rooted, ecumenically connected, and interculturally competent ministry in the twenty-first century. I look forward to co-laboring with students, staff, and faculty at ULS and with colleagues throughout the ELCA as together we join God’s work of healing, justice, and reconciliation.”

An ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Latini’s background includes pastoral positions in Minneapolis, MN and Levittown, PA.  She received both her M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary. The PCUSA has been a full communion partner of the ELCA since 1997. Full Communion partners share a commitment to interchange of clergy and an official recognition of agreement in essential doctrines and sacramental understanding.

The Rev. Dr. Elise Brown, who chairs the Seminary Board of Trustees, affirmed that “Dr. Latini brings a broad range of academic experience and expertise in pastoral care, cultural competency, diversity, and conflict resolution.” Brown continued, saying these “areas of expertise will serve United Lutheran Seminary and the wider church in forming leaders for the 21st century in a church that has undergone significant change.  We are thrilled a full communion partner with such deep passion for and understanding of Lutheran reformation theology and history has agreed to serve with us.”

Consulting with the Rev. Charles Miller, the leader of the search team, ELCA “Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was very affirmative of the ULS presidential search committee’s work and its decision to recommend Dr. Latini.”  During the search process, Miller also observed “After two interviews and some forty questions ranging from ‘what is a seminary?,’ ‘what does it mean to be Lutheran in America today?,’ and ‘how do you work with people who don’t agree with you?,’ Dr. Latini’s responses persuaded our committee that she was ULS leadership-ready! Her answers were thoughtful and theologically astute. Dr. Latini’s gifts and experience equip her exceptionally well to lead ULS in its pivotal and formative launching on July 1, 2017.”

President-elect Latini will begin as the Seminary President July 1, with a planned inauguration for November 2, 2017 in Lancaster, PA. She will live at both Gettysburg and Philadelphia campuses with her husband, Tom van Deusen, and daughter Eleanor.

The search for a seminary president was launched last fall following the decisions of Gettysburg Seminary President Michael Cooper-White to retire after 17 years of service, and President David Lose of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, took a call to serve as senior pastor of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, MN.

The United Lutheran Seminary, the oldest of the eight seminaries of the 3.8 million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is a consolidation of Gettysburg Seminary and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. One seminary on two campuses, ULS prepares women and men to be outreach oriented public theologians and mission leaders.  It provides programs in continuing studies, advanced theological education, and specialized educational programs for informed lay persons, ordained and other rostered church leaders. More information is available at the Seminary’s web site:  or by email or by phone at 717.338.3000.



United Lutheran Seminary Launches Search for CFO

On July 1, 2017, two historic Pennsylvania institutions, Gettysburg and Philadelphia Seminaries will join together and form the United Lutheran Seminary (ULS).  The ULS Board of Trustees is expected to elect a new president in late April.  This consolidated “new school” on two campuses seeks a Chief Financial Officer to provide oversight for all fiscal operations and to consolidate the two financial services offices.  ULS will have an annual operating budget of approximately $10.5M (including the Seminary Ridge Museum), and will have total assets exceeding $110M, inclusive of endowment and trust assets of approximately $55M. The incumbent will need to spend considerable time on the two campuses, separated by 140 miles, reporting to the ULS president.  The senior administrator will provide expert financial analysis and strategic guidance to the president, oversee 2-3 staff accountants, work closely with the Treasurer and other Seminary officers; s/he will need to establish systems for capital planning and analysis, fiscal strategic planning and budgeting, financial management and reporting; and will oversee the annual audit processes.  The CFO also serves the Seminary’s auxiliary entities as Treasurer; principally the Seminary Ridge Museum, two Endowment Foundations, and the Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Seminaries.

The location of this position has not been determined but will require frequent travel to the other campus.

Please send a letter of application, resume, and the contact information of three professional references to Elizabeth Meighan, Director of Human Resources at

 Full Position Description ULS CFO 3-29-17.

The review of applicants begins on April 20, 2017, and the search remains open until filled.

An Update on The Faces of United Lutheran Seminary

United Lutheran Seminary will begin with a 19-member faculty that embodies the depth, diversity, and breadth of teaching experience of a leading edge theological school.

Even as final offers from the board and acceptance by those offered positions were pending, the professors who will constitute the initial United Lutheran faculty have been working together shaping the new highly integrative curriculum for launch this summer. Following authorization by the new Board of Trustees in January, contract offers were extended and faculty members had a 30-day period in which to respond. Some current LTSP and LTSG faculty members will retire this summer, and Dr. Nelson Rivera has accepted a theology position at the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, PA. The Rev. Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian and the Rev. Dr. Kristin Largen will continue in the role of co-deans through the end of the calendar year, and selection of a permanent dean will involve faculty, the board and new president.

Those who will constitute the first faculty of United Lutheran in full- or part-time positions are:

Richard Carlson, Biblical Studies and Director of Contextual Formation
Wayne Croft, Homiletics and Liturgics in African American Studies
Katie Day, Church in Society
Maria Erling, Modern Church History and Global Missions
Vince Evener, Luther and Reformation Studies
John Hoffmeyer, Systematic Theology
Michael Krentz, Dean of the Chapel (Philadelphia Campus)
Kristin Johnston Largen, Systematic Theology
Charles Leonard, Practical Theology and Director of Field Education
Mark Oldenburg, Worship and Dean of the Chapel (Gettysburg Campus)
Jon Pahl, History of Christianity
J. Paul Rajeshekar, Systematic Theology
Quintin Robertson, African American Studies and Director of Urban Theological Institute
Brooks Schramm, Biblical Studies
Jayakiran Sebastian, Mission and Cultures
Storm Swain, Pastoral Care and Theology and Director of Anglican Studies
Mark Vitalis Hoffman, Biblical Studies
Gilson Waldkoenig, Church in Society and Director of Town & Country Church Institute
Karyn Wiseman, Homiletics

Presidents David Lose (Philadelphia) and Michael Cooper-White (Gettysburg) spoke of the faculty appointed to further shape and launch United Lutheran Seminary, which now has received final authorization from the accrediting agencies and Pennsylvania Department of Education. The two presidents, who will conclude service in June, stated: “This will be a premier cadre of scholar-teachers who bring to bear the rich legacies of two outstanding Lutheran institutions of theological education. The ULS faculty will be marked by diversity and depth, passion for their scholarly disciplines combined with a deep commitment to the formation of churchly leaders. In addition to mentoring students, they will be a great resource to the church, both in the sponsoring Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and in expanding ecumenical circles as well.”

Curriculum that is Integrative, Experiential, and Empowering
This faculty has given shape to a new curriculum that goes beyond a tweaking of the predecessor schools. United Lutheran Seminary will offer both degree and certificate study in expanding modes and locations, including residential, online and a variety of different hybrid courses. Degrees authorized by accreditors and the PA Department of Education include: Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Ministerial Leadership (MAML), Master of Arts (MA) (which will include a specialization in Public Leadership), Master of Sacred Theology (STM), and Doctor of Ministry (DMin). Certificate programs in Church Leadership and Christian Ministry through the Urban Theological Institute will continue as will the Youth Ministry Certification  School and the Certificate in Theological Studies.” The Seminary plans a robust Lifelong Learning program on both campuses. All current students, including PhD program students, will be supported through the completion of their degrees.

With United Lutheran Seminary’s path-breaking approach to theological education, students will be challenged to integrate, embody and demonstrate the capacities required for ministry.  The curriculum is designed to be integrative, experiential, and empowering, in order to form leaders who can step boldly into the current realities of ministry today, and who will be dynamic leaders for the church’s future.

Theological education is a holistic endeavor that includes not only classroom study, but also a variety of field education settings, connecting  the conceptual with the experiential, the science with the art of ministry. This innovative curriculum is designed to help students acquire and perfect skills they need for ministry. United Lutheran envisions preparing graduates in such a way that they can immediately step into a ministry setting with confidence that they can lead and inspire others. Watch for more detail about the exciting new approach to the ULS learning environment.

Presidential Search & Staff Organization
The fall launch of a presidential search also proceeds on schedule. Chair of the presidential search committee, the Rev. Charles Miller, reports that finalists have been selected from a strong field of candidates and are being interviewed. He remains optimistic that the committee will be able to recommend a candidate for election by the Board of Trustees at its April 20-21 meeting. If all proceeds as hoped, inauguration of the new president is scheduled for November 2nd.

The staff hiring also proceeds apace, with a number of key administrative staff positions now filled by current employees from both schools. Staff has been selected in admissions, advancement, academic and student services, communications and technology and other areas, with more interviews scheduled. An open search is underway for the Director of the Library (combining Krauth and Wentz libraries), who is expected to be named later this spring.

Newly Configured Board Named, Meets January 11th

New Board of Trustees Together
On an icy Wednesday morning, January 11, 2017, trustees representing synods from the Mid-Atlantic (ELCA Region 8) and Northeast (ELCA Region 7) gathered for the first time, fulfilling business for the last six months of the school as Gettysburg Seminary and governing the forward navigation for United Lutheran Seminary. Following a brief orientation for new board members, the governance group adopted a committee structure with four committees and its executive committee. Later in the meeting the board elected its first slate of officers, with the Rev. Dr. Elise Brown to serve as Board Chair, Ms. Cheryl Williams as Vice Chair, the Rev. Cheryl Meinschein as Secretary, and Mr. Paul Wangerin in the role of Treasurer. The Rev. John Richter, who has chaired the LTSP board, was asked by the Transition Team to chair the inaugural meeting of this board because of the need to elect officers.

The first meeting of the newly configured Board of Trustees addressed a full agenda of business ranging from the approval of curricular design to the adoption of parameters for future employees of United Lutheran Seminary. Members of the newly configured board include

The Rev. Dr. J. Elise BROWN*
Bishop Claire BURKAT
Bishop James DUNLOP
The Rev. Julie FRASER
Mr. Robert KING
Dr. James LAKSO
The Rev. Lisa LEBER
The Rev. Cheryl MEINSCHEIN #
The Rev. Charles MILLER
Ms. Nancy Dering MOCK
The Rev. Audrey E. MOODY
Dr. Tommie ROBINSON Jr.
Mr. David A. RUSSELL
Ms Cheryl WILLIAMS **

* designates current chair of the board
** vice chairperson
+   treasurer
#   secretary