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 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.

Transition Team Update on Faculty Recommendations

(September 23, 2016) Among the responsibilities entrusted to the 12-member Transition Team appointed by the boards of Gettysburg and Philadelphia seminaries is “recommending persons [to be appointed] to the Faculty.”  This week, each current tenured faculty member of both schools was informed of the Team’s recommendations.  Weighed heavily in the process was input received from faculty members themselves, including offers of some to move to part-time positions or to transition into retirement.

During the fall, faculty members recommended for positions with United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) will be meeting to work out details of the new curriculum, which will further shape individual faculty positions.  Once specific positions and offers are extended by the new ULS board early in 2017, faculty members will then have the customary 30 days in which to decide whether or not to accept positions.

In addition to the above factors, some current faculty members recommended for ULS positions continue to discern among other options they may have.  Accordingly, and to preserve the freedom of faculty to discern their future, there likely can be no public announcement of the ULS faculty until early 2017 when all involved have made their decisions.  In the meantime, individual faculty members are free to share the Transition Team’s recommendations at their discretion.

Much appreciated are the many expressions of support and prayers for all the dedicated persons who serve at LTSG and LTSP.

This update was provided by: David Lose and Michael-Cooper-White, Presidents of LTSP and LTSG Bishop James Dunlop, Chair of the Transition Team

Transition Team Designates United Lutheran Seminary Leadership Team

(September 14, 2016)  At its meeting on September 6th, the Transition Team of the United Lutheran Seminary affirmed recommendations from the presidents of LTSG and LTSP regarding a nine-member leadership team that will shape the staffing pattern, develop detailed budgets, and propose all administrative policies and procedures for adoption by the board of United Lutheran Seminary (ULS).  Beginning its work immediately, the leadership team’s permanent configuration and makeup will be determined by the ULS president in consultation with its Board of Trustees.

The Transition Team conferred with the appointed chair of the Presidential Search Committee, the Rev. Charles Miller of New York City, as well as with Dr. Jonathan Strandjord, ELCA Program Director for Seminaries, who will be an adviser to the committee.  An institutional profile is being developed in conjunction with the presidential position description.  It is anticipated these key documents will be finalized over the next month, enabling launch of the search for candidates in October.  The ULS Board of Trustees, which will elect the new president, and employ faculty and staff, is anticipated to begin serving early in 2017, although ULS does not officially commence until July 1, 2017.   All current staff positions at LTSG and LTSP remain in place until June 30th, and seniors will graduate with diplomas from the two existing schools.

For the purpose of successful organizational preparation for July 1, 2017 launch, the following leadership team will be recommended to the new president in consultation with the ULS board:  Serving as Senior Vice President for Administration and convener of the transitional leadership team will be the Rev. John Spangler, currently Executive Assistant to the President for Communication and Planning at LTSG.  Mr. Dennis Trotter, currently LTSP’s Vice President for Advancement and President of its endowment foundation, will be Senior Vice President for Advancement, based on the Philadelphia campus.  The Rev. Angela Zimmann will be Vice President for Advancement, based at Gettysburg.  The Rev. Trina Johnsten will be United’s Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment, the role in which she currently serves at LTSP.  Co-directors of Finance will be Ms. Jennifer Byers and Ms. Mariam Nowar; each serves in a similar current role at LTSG and LTSP respectively.  Co-directors of Information Technology will be Mr. Donald Redman and Mr. Kyle Barger, again currently in similar positions at the two schools.  Finally, Ms. Elizabeth Meighan will be recommended to the new president as Assistant to the President and Director of Human Resources.

During its meeting at the Lower Susquehanna Synod office in Harrisburg, the Transition Team, chaired by Bishop James Dunlop, also met with tenured faculty members from the two schools.  At the faculties’ request, notification of ULS faculty positions will be delayed slightly from the original mid-September target date, affording faculty members the opportunity to provide more input and offer proposals to achieve the necessary reduction in overall faculty size and budget.  It is expected that all faculty will be notified regarding the Transition Team’s determination by later this month.

In the course of the second round of special joint board meetings over the summer, the LTSG board amended personnel policies to provide up to 10 weeks of severance for any staff members who will not be offered positions as United Lutheran Seminary commences on July 1, 2017.

Questions may be directed to either Seminary’s President’s Office, the Rev. Dr. David Lose at LTSP or the Rev. Michael Cooper-White, LTSG.

Uniting Pennsylvania Seminaries Choose Name, Launch Presidential Search

“United Lutheran Seminary sums up our vision of the future into which we believe God is calling us,” declared Bishop James Dunlop of Harrisburg, PA at the conclusion of two days of meetings held mid-August in Philadelphia.  The name of the consolidated school that will bring together the Lutheran Theological Seminaries at Gettysburg (LTSG) and Philadelphia (LTSP) was the unanimous choice of the governing bodies of two seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

During the special August 18-19 meetings of the boards and their appointed 12-member Transition Team, decisions were made to determine the path forward for the structure of the consolidation and to launch a presidential search for the consolidated school.

Dunlop, who chairs the Transition Team appointed by the boards of the two consolidating seminaries, continued: “With nearly 350 years of combined history, it’s time we joined together.  By mid-2017, we will be one school on two campuses.  In a time when so many forces in our world seek to divide, our coming together is a powerful witness to our Lord Jesus’ fervent prayer for his followers, ‘that they may all be one.’”

Original plans to consolidate the two existing schools by closing both and creating a new entity were modified at the counsel of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education. In order to preserve licensure and full accreditation, the Department advised that the new school adopt and adapt the existing corporate structure of one of the two schools and have the other join the new venture by closing and transferring its assets.  The boards reviewed multiple factors in adopting a plan forward including the schools’ current accreditation status, the complexity of the corporate structures at each school, the transferability of restricted endowments, and the desire to preserve the historical legacy of both schools by retaining the oldest charter. In order to strengthen the mission of the existing schools by creating United Lutheran Seminary hosted on two distinct campuses, the boards decided to use the corporate entity of the seminary in Gettysburg as the continuing educational corporation. The Gettysburg school will therefore adopt revised bylaws this fall, that create a new board of directors constituted by the synods of both supporting regions of the ELCA and additional members appointed by the ELCA’s Church Council. Degrees currently offered by both schools are expected to be retained, and all current students are guaranteed a pathway to complete their degrees without interruption.

During this meeting, both boards also affirmed the Transition Team’s recommendation to launch a search in early fall for the individual who will serve as the first president of the united school.  Both current presidents, the Revs. David Lose of Philadelphia and Michael Cooper-White of Gettysburg, have said they will not be candidates.  “The quest now begins for a leader who will join us in launching a premier seminary serving the church and the world of the 21st century,” stated the Rev. Elise Brown of New York City, who serves as the Transition Team’s vice chair.  Dunlop and Brown also announced that heading the presidential search committee will be the Rev. Charles Miller of New York City.  A graduate of Gettysburg, Miller has served in recent years as a key leader among trustees on the Philadelphia board.  Prior to his retirement, Miller was the ELCA’s Executive for Administration, responsible for overseeing daily operations of the church’s national and international work.  “In Charles Miller,” the two agreed, “we have a widely respected church leader with deep roots in both of these great schools of the church.”

The governing groups of both existing schools also affirmed broad parameters of curricular design efforts conducted over the summer by a faculty work group.  This new curricular structure is not a hybrid of the existing schools but a creative competency-based program that will integrate academic disciplines to yield outcomes needed for 21st century church leaders, rostered and lay. In addition, the boards gave significant attention to measures of transition support for existing faculty and staff members of the two schools.  It is expected the workforce of the combined school will be approximately two-thirds that of the current seminaries’ employees.  Board chairs Dr. James Lakso of LTSG and the Rev. John Richter of LTSP stated, “We want to do the best we can in supporting all our valued employees, including those whom the emerging unified school will be unable to retain.”

“Our goal all along has been to create a new venture in theological education that enabled us to better prepare leaders responsive to the challenges of the day in a way that is more affordable for students and more sustainable to the larger Church,” said Richter, “and we believe the decisions of the boards accomplish this goal.” Lakso added, “We are seeking the best possible launch for United Lutheran Seminary and both boards affirmed strong support for the use of both campuses and programs distinct to each school including the Urban Theological Institute and the Town and Country Church Institute.” Lose and Cooper-White shared their belief that the new school will strengthen the mission and embrace elements of the ethos and history of both schools.

In more immediate matters, the boards heard encouraging reports on fall enrollment at both schools, who celebrate significant increases in entering new students over the prior year.  Also noted is the trend of continuing strong donor support, a key to the recently announced commitment to award full tuition scholarships to all full-time, residential ELCA students while also significantly increasing aid to all other students.

The United Lutheran Seminary will remain in partnership with six other seminaries of the ELCA.  The ELCA Church Council needs to approve bylaw changes and ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will consult in the presidential search process.  Gettysburg was founded in 1826 and Philadelphia in 1864.


For further information, contact the Rev. John Spangler, Executive Assistant for Communication and Planning  ( or visit the website

Additional Resources:

PDF version of this news release

Recommended “Pathway” Enabling Resolutions

Frequently Asked Questions about the Unified Seminary

July 29, 2016 Update on Unifying the Seminaries in Philadelphia and Gettysburg

From David J. Lose, LTSP President and
Michael Cooper-White, LTSG President

We are writing you jointly as constituents of LTSG and LTSP in order to provide an update on the work to unify these two historic institutions for the sake of the whole Church. Much has been accomplished in the six months since the Boards of the two schools both unanimously voted to enter into a process to form a new venture in theological education, and we are excited to offer this update. We want also to remind you of our reasons for undertaking this significant work and will begin there.

We currently face two challenges that we are trying to address by joining our two wonderful seminaries. The first is a great shortage of pastoral leaders. A recently-released study by the ELCA reported that we currently have 600 unfilled pastoral vacancies and that that number is expected to grow to 1000 over the next four years. In this regard, we have never needed our seminaries more. At the same time, the current ELCA network of seminaries (and theological education across the church) is proving unsustainable, as the eight ELCA schools collectively ran an operating deficit of $70MM over the last decade.

By joining LTSG and LTSP we are striving to equip a new generation of leaders who are responsive to, and able to address, the challenges our congregations are facing in a culture that no longer has a vested interest in congregational health. By combining forces, we will be able to do so in a way that is sustainable for the church and more accessible and affordable for students. Toward that end, we not only project a balanced budget from day one of the new venture, but we are also (a) offering full tuition scholarships to all full time, residential ELCA candidates for rostered ministry, and matching church-generated scholarships up to 100% for all other students, and (b) starting a Distributed Learning MDiv degree that will enable more students to complete their theological training at a distance.

At respective meetings in April, the Boards of LTSG and LTSP each voted unanimously to move ahead with the process to unify the two schools. They also authorized the creation of a Transition Team made up of twelve persons (six from each school) responsible for creating by-laws and policy handbooks for the unified school; recommending new members of the faculty, staff, and Board; selecting a name; and authorizing a presidential search committee. The Transition Team, chaired by Bishop Jim Dunlop with Pastor Elise Brown serving as vice-chair, met last week and is making significant progress on all these matters.

On Friday, July 15, the Boards of the two schools met jointly on the campus of LTSG to get to know each other better, receive updates on the continued work with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and our accrediting agencies, and to have conversation on the role of the new Board. (The Boards will meet a second time together on the LTSP campus in late August.) While in Gettysburg, the Boards also heard reports from their members and the presidents on the tremendous support received in recent assemblies of the synods of Regions 7 and 8. Several of the synods adopted formal resolutions of support and encouragement, including also expressions of concern for disruption in the lives of current employees. In synod discussions, on the floor, in informational forums, and “around the edges,” most who spoke with trustees and other seminary representatives affirmed the new venture while also offering helpful suggestions and posing thoughtful questions, some of which we could answer and some whose answers are still being sought. We are grateful for the support, candor, trust, and patience as we move this venture forward.

Work with the PA Dept. of Education is going well. It is their counsel that one of the two schools provide the continuing corporate entity for the new venture to guarantee that licensure and accreditation remain intact, and that the other school join this school through merger or, more likely, closure and transfer of assets. At this point, the Transition Team is reviewing a variety of factors to help it discern which school may best play which role. The temptation in all of this will be to name the school that provides the corporate entity as the “winner” and the other school as the “loser.” But it’s vital to see this as a joint effort between two schools with a deeply intertwined past and a shared future. The school that provides the continuing corporate entity, after all, will have a new set of by-laws, a new Board representing Regions 7 and 8 of the ELCA, a new name, and a new president. It will be, for all intents and purposes, a new school. The combined strength of the schools will enable us to create a new venture in theological education hosted on two distinct campuses that better serves the larger church and world.

The Boards also affirmed their strong support of existing and specialized work at both campuses, including the Urban Theological Institute at LTSP, the Town and Country Church Institute at Gettysburg, and the training of candidates in the Theological Education for Emerging Ministries programs that occurs at both schools. The work to unify the two schools will provide more resources to strengthen all of these important commitments.

Conversations with faculty and staff about how best to support our community are ongoing. Each school has engaged a chaplain to offer spiritual care during this time of transition. Policy handbooks at both schools provide guidelines for transition support for staff. In order to provide a measure of security for faculty, while also creating flexibility for the emerging school to meet its financial and curricular goals, tenured faculty members have been offered a voluntary transitional support package. In exchange for resignations effective July 1, 2017, tenured faculty who accept the offer are guaranteed either a position in the new venture or continuing compensation for a defined period.

The working group on Educational Design and Curriculum Development, composed of the deans and representative faculty of both schools and in conversation with the rest of the LTSG/LTSP faculties, is starting “from the ground up” to create a new curriculum that is responsive to the present demands, challenges, and opportunities of serving the Church in the twenty-first century. By the end of the summer, it expects to submit a report to the Transition Team proposing degrees to be offered at the new school, the broad outlines of the curriculum, and counsel regarding the size and kind of faculty needed to execute the new curriculum. Specific recommendations about faculty and staff will be the responsibility of the Transition Team and will be communicated to the faculty and senior staff in September and to all staff in early 2017.

At this point in our journey, we have three requests for you. The first is to continue to hold our communities in your prayers. As you can easily imagine, while our work is hopeful and exciting, it is also disruptive and at times anxiety-provoking. This is particularly true for our faculty and staff colleagues, not all of whom will find a place in the new venture. Know that we will continue to treat our people with respect and compassion and support them as fully as possible during this time of transition.

The second request is to come to us with questions, concerns, or ideas. Much has been said, and even more assumed, regarding our work that does not always align with our experience, effort, or expectations. We will continue to be as straightforward and forthcoming with information as we have it. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact either or both of us (,

Third, we ask that you offer your financial strength to our effort. We rely on the generosity and faithfulness of our constituents to make exceptional education available for our future leaders both increasingly accessible and tuition free, thereby meeting the challenge of providing leaders for the church. Given a strong response to our announcement of stronger financial aid – with both schools at mid-summer already beyond our fall admissions projections – we anticipate a focused first fundraising appeal for scholarships will be launched jointly even while we remain separately functioning institutions this coming academic year.

Please know of our gratitude for your support, gifts, and prayers. This is a significant undertaking that we believe will have a salutary and long-lasting impact on the Church we have been called to serve. But we cannot do it alone. Your partnership and prayers are essential. Thank you. Even more, thank God for you.


Unified Seminary Steering Committee May Update

Before the academic year concludes, this brief “Update” will offer a summary of additional steps taken and plans for the summer as progress continues toward the unification of Gettysburg and Philadelphia seminaries.

Following unanimous votes by both boards to continue toward the goal of launching a reconfigured, unified “New Venture” the summer of 2017, informational sessions were held on both campuses. A press release communicated the boards’ decisions and it has received some attention, including a follow-up report by the widely disseminated Religion News Service (RNS).

The ten-member Steering Committee met in Harrisburg on May 3. At that meeting, steps were taken that had been requested by both boards, including developing guidelines that will govern the work of a slightly larger (12-member) Transition Team, to be appointed in upcoming special meetings of the boards. That team’s responsibilities will include overseeing ongoing activities by the several Work Groups that have continuing tasks; developing a presidential job description and appointing a presidential search committee; determining the name of the unified school, and recommending to the existing boards (and ultimately a unified reconfigured board) a curriculum and resulting faculty configuration for the yet-to-be-named seminary. The Steering Committee also finalized draft bylaws that will be submitted for preliminary review by the PA Department of Education, our accreditors, and the ELCA Office of the Secretary, all of whom must “sign off” before a new entity is approved.

The Steering Committee expressed appreciation upon hearing that on both campuses students have agreed to serve on a Student Advisory Panel (names listed below), which likely will convene over the summer via the internet and for its first meeting in person early in the fall. The Committee also established dates for two joint summer board meetings, as had been requested by both boards. On July 15 both boards will gather on the Gettysburg campus, and on August 19 they will come together again at Philadelphia. The Steering Committee also took note of many expressions of encouragement being received, and of the ongoing widespread concern for the well-being of students, faculty, and staff, all of whom face a measure of uncertainty during a time of transition.

The Curriculum Development and Educational Design work group will be busy over the summer, digesting the input being received in many conversations where alumni, lay and rostered leaders, and others are offering input on what should be priorities in theological education and leadership formation moving forward. On June 14, members of both faculties and representatives of other ELCA seminaries will spend a day with Dr. Daniel Aleshire, Executive Director of the Association of Theological Schools, who has a depth of experience and wisdom gleaned from the 250+ seminaries that form ATS. Faculty and staff work groups related to various elements of the curriculum will be formed and start their work over the summer as well.

A four-minute video has been prepared under the auspices of one of the work groups, to be offered at all the synod assemblies in the ELCA’s Regions 7 and 8 this spring. Key seminary leaders, including board members, will host informational forums in several of the synodical assemblies.

As additional information becomes available, reports and documents will be posted on the website:

Student Advisory Panel

Kelsey Fitting-Snyder
Greg Hartman
Tamika Jancewicz
Amanda McCaffery
Erika Tobin
Melissa Woeppel

Lawrence Claiborne
Claire Cvetkovski
Justin Lingenfelter
Michael Nailor
DeAndra Richardson
Toshihiro “Toppo” Takamura
Rebecca Wicker