President Previews Milestone Filled Week with Oct 27 “In Touch”

Marking the Moments on the Luther Bowl Field, at the Luther Colloquy, and in a rich lineup for the Presidential Inauguration, President Latini previews a week of Reformation anniversary events, in her “IN TOUCH” communication with the Seminary community and friends of United Lutheran Seminary.  President Latini also outlines some recent staff changes and restructuring in the leadership team known as the “President’s Council.”

Click here: In Touch_Oct27-2017



Seminary Launches, Trustees’ Hold First Meeting

“In Touch” October 9 edition
From the President’s Office, United Lutheran Seminary
September 2017 Board Meeting News Summary

Meeting for the first time since the official July 1st inception of United Lutheran Seminary, its Board of Trustees gathered in Philadelphia September 25-27 to engage in oversight, gather information, meet and hear from faculty and students and complete its first meeting under the leadership of President Theresa F. Latini. In her opening remarks, President Latini said that “we have launched successfully, thanks to the faithfulness, flexibility, and forbearance of faculty, staff and students.”

President Latini continued with a focus on two resources she shared with Trustees, one on the growth of diversity among theological schools and the additional trend toward flexible and distributed learning programs. Healthy discussion about pedagogy and the new uses of technology in the classroom followed.

The Rev. Dr. Elise Brown chaired the meeting, establishing a flow to the gathering that promoted trustees getting to know each other and establish new patterns and processes that will serve the school going forward. The new bylaws of United Lutheran Seminary call for Bishops and Synod Vice Presidents to gather on the day before one of the board’s formal meetings to consult and collaborate on issues in theological education, leadership training and more. This year’s consultation focused on how to be partners with the church and facilitate growing the number of persons prepared to enter church leadership in light of anticipated future pastoral shortages.

Between sessions, the Rev. Dr. J. Wendell Mapson offered a stem-winding lecture (which Dr. Mapson spelled “s-e-r-m-o-n”) for the Urban Theological Institute’s annual lecture. Mapson delivered a moving Gospel-centered critique of current culture and the ways the cross and creedal faith can be entrapped by distracting social and cultural agendas. He contrasted healthy and unhealthy juxtaposition of Christ and culture, citing the now 60-year old, influential study of the topic by H. Richard Niebuhr. One board member remarked, “Rarely have I heard the Gospel proclaimed so clearly and so cogently to the situation in which we as a nation are living.” Watch for a video recording of the event on the seminary website.

With the incoming students this year swinging upward to a total of 78 in all degree programs on both campuses, the Board heard staff and faculty reports on the ways in which the Seminary is accommodating the increased student body. ELCA representative Jonathan Strandjord also noted significant increases in the entering numbers of ELCA students in M.Div. study across the network of seven seminaries. United Lutheran Seminary added classes, increased capacity to connect classrooms across the two campuses, and utilized more housing than originally anticipated. Trustees noted that the incoming student numbers reflect confidence in the school and affirmation of the learning environment offered by United Lutheran Seminary. With the unprecedented financial aid offer, available data points to lower rates and lower percentages of student loan debt compared to years past.

The new Board reviewed the several supporting organizations that continue as subsidiaries to the United Lutheran Seminary, including the two endowment foundations, the Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation, and the LTSP Corporation. On the way to fuller understanding of the supporting organizations, the Seminary will facilitate the best practices of communication and information flow to keep the Trustees of ULS well informed.

United Lutheran Seminary launched a formal search for a Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean to commence this fall. With thanksgiving for their service, the board recognized the service of Co-Dean Kristin Johnston Largen who concludes her role at the end of this calendar year, and thanked Co-Dean Kiran Sebastian for continuing in the role of Dean of the Seminary through the end of the academic year.

The school also launched a search for an Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, with a focus on the area of New Testament, augmenting the teaching of Brooks Schramm and Mark Vitalis Hoffman. Recognizing Dr. Vitalis Hoffman’s distinguished service on the faculty since 2002, the Trustees also appointed him to the Glatfelter Chair in Biblical Studies. United Lutheran Seminary anticipates public recognition and a rite of installation to be announced in the upcoming months. The chair became open earlier this year with the Rev. Dr. Richard Carlson taking a parish call in Nebraska.

In other actions, the board:

■ Reclassified Philadelphia based endowment investments to assist the financial
services staff in applying funds to ULS programs and scholarships;
■ Received reports from alumni/ae associations from both Gettysburg and Philadel-
phia constituencies, noting their plans to move forward together;
■ Was encouraged to ensure there is 100% of board members supporting United
Lutheran Seminary, as a signal of commitment and endorsement of the Semi-
nary’s mission. Trustees may expect invitations to give financial support over
the next weeks and months;
■ Received an update on plans for the Presidential inauguration November 2nd, with
inaugural lecture beginning at 3:30pm at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Lan-
caster, PA, followed by a panel of four to discuss and respond. The Holy
Eucharist will begin at 7pm including the rite of inauguration, and a reception
will be held between the afternoon and evening events;
■ Were encouraged to spread the news about the Decolonize Lutheranism conference
Nov 3 and 4 at Philadelphia and the Luther Colloquy at Gettysburg on Nov 1st.

The board meets again at the end of January of 2018 in Gettysburg.


A Pastoral Letter from President-Elect Latini

May 5, 2017

Greetings from President-Elect Latini,

It’s only been two weeks since the board of trustees elected me to serve as the first president of United Lutheran Seminary. The highlight of those days was the whirlwind set of introductions to students, staff, faculty, alumni, and church leaders on both the Philadelphia and Gettysburg campuses. I’ve pondered, in particular, the questions posed to me by so many—questions born of hope and concern, delight and surprise, curiosity and skepticism as well as from needs for trust and collegiality. I look forward to sustained dialogue in the near future about our common calling, about the shape of public theology in North America today, about living into this union of two historic Lutheran institutions, and about the promises of God that uphold us all. As we move closer to those days, I’d like to elaborate further on a few commitments, formative practices, and core beliefs that shape my faith and vision for theological education today.

Healing, justice, and reconciliation. On the cross, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” Through Christ, we have been reconciled to God and one another by the power of the Spirit. In baptism, we participate in Christ’s death and resurrection and are sent to serve our neighbors. Christ has gone before us. His ministry of healing, justice, and reconciliation is ongoing. The Spirit enlivens and empowers us to participate in this ministry—a ministry that creates life out of nothing, possibility out of impossibility, and hope out of despair in the most unexpected places and ways imaginable. This ministry is first and foremost God’s. We respond by stewarding our vocation so that we can accompany and lead God’s people.

Participation in this ministry calls for formation of head, heart, and hands. Theological education at United Lutheran Seminary is built upon this awareness and is exemplified in our new competency-based curriculum where acquiring knowledge, learning skills, developing relational capacities, and nurturing certain dispositions come together. I’m thrilled to join this work, as I have framed my teaching of practical theology and pastoral care over the past twelve years as a communally-based, interdisciplinary art and theological endeavor.

Peace and nonviolence. We live in volatile times. The smallest spark can light a fire of vitriol, bullying, and hate speech. Profound and too frequently ignored or forgotten injustices pile up daily. Hate crimes against persons of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ persons, and women have been on the rise. Schisms continue to occur in parishes and denominations, and seminary graduates say they need to learn more about conflict mediation. They also need to become public theologians who, by God’s grace, resist violence and peacefully witness to God’s reign.

United Lutheran Seminary will continue a long history of preaching and practicing peace and nonviolence at its predecessor schools. Just recently, Gettysburg Seminary was awarded a “Lifetime Peacemaking Award” by the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice. I look forward to joining this work. For the past sixteen years, I have studied, practiced, and taught Nonviolent Communication(NVC), which is an international peacemaking organization, a model for conflict mediation, and spiritual framework for social justice. Like so many gifts from God, I learned about NVC when, unbeknownst to me, I needed it most. In the years before that, I had interned at a church torn apart by sexual misconduct and then served a church marked by chronic conflict. I also had been caught up in rancorous and dehumanizing sexuality debates in my own denomination. My training in Nonviolent Communication in highly diverse interfaith contexts empowered me to practice peace while also pursuing justice for people so often pushed to the margins of society and the church. It formed in me commitments to full inclusion for LGBTQ+ persons in church and society, and quite serendipitously became the occasion for reconciliation to those with whom I had been estranged.

Put another way, it transformed my understanding of the great diversity of God’s creation and helped me celebrate that diversity in my ministry and work.

Cultural competency. Shifting demographics in the United States pose both significant challenges and bold opportunities for mainline Protestant churches and academic institutions committed to the ongoing education and formation of their leaders. By 2040, the United States will no longer be a majority-minority country but one in which a number of minority ethnic groups together compose the demographics of this nation. In fact, within the next decade, whites will no longer represent the majority of students in ATS schools. It’s time for our theologies, our pedagogies, and our policies and practices to catch up to these shifting realities. For that to happen, we need to grow in cultural competency.

Cultural competency is the intentional commitment and active engagement in unlearning racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and other forms of bias institutionally and individually. Culturally competent Christian leaders and communities value diversity as integral to the body of Christ, work toward genuine equity in policies and procedures, and include marginalized groups in decision-making processes at all levels. In my most recent work as associate dean of diversity and cultural competency at Western Theological Seminary, I have (1) implemented a plan for the education and training of faculty, staff, and students in cultural competency, (2) created a new required cultural competency course for all master’s level students, and (3) given input on seminary-wide policies and personnel matters. I look forward to continuing this dimension of my own vocation as it intersects with the work already begun, for example, through the Urban Theological Institute and our status as a Reconciling in Christ seminary.

A cruciform life. Peacemaking, nonviolence, and cultural competency can be understood and practiced in light of the theology of the cross. As we live under the cross, we hear God’s YES and God’s NO to us individually and corporately. Knowledge of our justification by grace through faith (i.e., God’s YES) enables us to hear God’s NO to all the ways that we sin against God and neighbor, all the ways we perpetuate death and negation, especially for those with less privilege. When we hear God’s NO, we speak in correspondence to it. We cannot call evil good. We must call a thing what it is and do so without self-righteousness. When we hear God’s YES, we stand in solidarity with those who suffer most under oppressive systems and structures and we commit to both pray and work for the empowerment of all.

In all this, God’s promises uphold us, strengthen us, and renew us. When divisions persist in our families, churches, theological schools, and larger communities, we remember, “In Christ, all things hold together.” When intractable sexism, racism, and homophobia destroy life, we call upon the One who vindicates the oppressed and delivers the afflicted. When we confess our complicity in sinful, unjust systems, we trust we have been justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Again and again, we pray and abide in the One who has and will reconcile all things to God.

I look forward to meeting and talking with you in person in the coming months about our shared vision for United Lutheran Seminary. I begin in my new role July 1.

Peace + grace,

The Reverend Dr. Theresa F. Latini

Rt. Rev. Dr. Frederick Houk Borsch Memorial Photo Unveiling

Join us on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 for Eucharist and the Unveiling of the Memorial Photo of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Frederick Houk Borsch (1935-2017), beloved Professor of Anglican Studies and New Testament, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. We are honored that Mrs. Barbara Borsch will be with us. The portrait has been generously donated by Mrs. Amanda Smoot.

The event will be held in The Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapel at the Philadelphia Campus of United Lutheran Seminary: 7301 Germantown Avenue (Mt. Airy), Philadelphia, PA, 19119. It is free and open to the public.


11:45am: Eucharist
12:24pm: Community Lunch
1:45pm Unveiling of Picture

For questions, and to R.S.V.P., contact The Rev. Dr. Storm Swain:


Festive Reformation Commemoration Oct 31st at Gettysburg Chapel

Commemorating 500 years since the Lutheran Reformation began, United Lutheran Seminary will host a festival worship service Tuesday, October 31st at 7pm in its Gettysburg Chapel on Seminary Ridge.

On the exact date, 500 years after Luther published his 95 complaints (95 Theses) about what he believed to be church abuses, the service will follow the theme “Freed and Renewed in Christ: 500 years of grace in action.”

This will be a major, public “commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, said Dean of the Chapel in Gettysburg, Mark Oldenburg. “In keeping with that occasion, not only will it include powerful preaching and gracious leadership, but it will also be a 21st century, global version of Luther’s German Mass, using congregational song throughout the service.”  Bishop James Dunlop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will preside and preaching will be the Rev. Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian, Co-Dean of United Lutheran Seminary.  Oldenburg’s colleague, Dr. Michael Krentz, Dean of the Chapel in Philadelphia, will lead the special music of the service. 

An offering for the service will be received for Lutheran Disaster Response. The service is open to the public, and convenient free parking is available on the seminary campus. The chapel is located at 147 Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg.


Students Invite You to 52nd Luther Bowl, Reformation Commemoration

The students of United Lutheran Seminary have issued an invitation to Alumni/ae, Families, and Friends of the Seminary to join them for the 52nd Annual Luther Bowl flag football tournament hosted at the Gettysburg campus. This year’s tournament will be held on October 28, 2017 and will be coupled with a Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

This year, in addition to the traditional flag-football tournament between ecumenical seminary partners from across the country, there will also be a family-friendly carnival, including face painting, games, and service outreach activities. After the tournament and carnival conclude, there will be a worship service beginning at 5:30PM to commemorate the Reformation, followed by a potluck reception and live music.

Student leaders A.J. Houseman and Karl Mulbach added, “We would be honored if you would join us for this celebration worship and potluck reception. There will be fun for all ages, so please feel free to bring the whole family.” Please RSVP to Karl Muhlbach at before October 23 if you will be joining us. For those interested in contributing a financial donation to offset the cost, checks may be made out to United Lutheran Seminary with Luther Bowl as the memo.

See more at

Search for VP of Academic Affairs & Academic Dean Launched

United Lutheran Seminary invites applications for the position of Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, beginning July 1, 2018. The Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean takes overall responsibility for the supervision and support of faculty; for the design, implementation, and assessment of academic programs and policies; and, for the development and management of all academic offices. Along with administrative experience, the successful candidate will have a strong record of teaching and scholarship in theological education.

The VPAA/AD is a member of the faculty with rank commensurate with training and experience, with a three year, renewable contract. The VPAA/AD is elected by the Board of Trustees and reports directly to the President.

Please send a cover letter, vita, and the contact information of three references to President Theresa F. Latini, c/o Director of Human Resources,

Application review will begin on November 1; applications received by this time will receive full consideration, but the search will remain open until the position is filled. For a complete job description and to learn more about United Lutheran Seminary, see  announcement and position description

It is the policy of the United Lutheran Seminary, in accordance with its By-Laws, Human Resource Practices and applicable federal/state laws and regulations, not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, disability, age, veteran status, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, parental status, disability, family medical history or genetic information, or any other non-merit based factor. These protections extend to all management practices and decisions, including recruitment and hiring practices, appraisal systems, promotions, and training and career development programs. 

Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence at Chapel

Gettysburg Chapel

On Tuesday night, Oct. 3, Gettysburg for Gun Sense will be holding a vigil in the Seminary’s chapel in Gettysburg beginning at 7 PM, to pray for the victims of Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas, and for an end to such horrors. Everyone, most certainly including seminary folk, is welcome. Please see Pr. Oldenburg for more information.