ULS President’s Newsletter | Summer Term 2018-19
Volume I, Issue 5
Sharing a meal with others is something many of us take for granted. We’ve been doing it all our lives, with our families, in school lunch rooms, working with colleagues, and of course at the Lord’s Table (and coffee hour after church!). I recently had the opportunity to get to know my colleagues on the President’s Cabinet over meals at our retreat in Lancaster. It was a fruitful time of sharing in the more informal setting that food and drink create. Scholars of the historical Jesus recognize that perhaps the most radical of his challenges to the Temple and the synagogues (the Sadducees and Pharisees) was his table fellowship, sharing a meal with the outcasts of his time.
This kind of fellowship is good and natural. Jesus was criticized by religious authorities for having a good time at the table. They called him a drunkard and a glutton (Luke 7:34; Matt. 11:19). We can enjoy these times together with our families, friends, and classmates and colleagues as Jesus enjoyed the company of his. We mustn’t forget, however, the more important part of Jesus’ meals. How often do we sit down with the “others” in our society, to break bread with them as children of God together, to celebrate the image of God in them and in ourselves?
We are called to fellowship with all our neighbors, around our tables and in every aspect of our lives. That most emphatically includes us at United Lutheran Seminary. We will certainly have the opportunity to share fellowship in the coming year as we celebrate the coming together of two great institutions into one seminary that doesn’t subtract from, but multiplies that greatness. The Gettysburg campus got its start as the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg with eight students on Sept. 5, 1826. It’s storied history includes being a key site in the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, and several Lutheran “firsts,” including the first African-American to attend a Lutheran seminary, Daniel Alexander Payne in 1835, the first woman professor (Bertha Paulssen, 1945), and LTSG graduated the first woman to be ordained as a Lutheran pastor (Elizabeth Platz, 1965).
The roots of the Philadelphia campus go back to 1748 and the founding of the Philadelphia Ministerium, the first Lutheran Church in America, by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. The Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia opened in what is now Franklin Square in 1864, and moved to the current Mt. Airy location in 1888. LTSP has a record of ecumenism and openness, with former Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, who presided over the ordination of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the TEC, having been a faculty member, and having hosted the Urban Theological Institute for 38 years.
As we will be referencing that heritage throughout the year, it raises some questions for me that I will continue to contemplate as we move forward in celebration. What will future classes look like as they gather in classrooms and around tables? What are our future “firsts”? How does our combined institution continue this legacy of intellectual and spiritual discernment, trusting in the Spirit of Truth that Jesus promised to us? (John 14:17)
When ULS reconvenes for the new academic year in the fall, the ULS community will be invited to events celebrating our heritage, and our new beginning. Watch your ULS email and our website, www.uls.edu, for more information.
Quo Vadis? “Where are you[we] going?” Where are we going from here? This will be my clarion call to the ULS community as we initiate our strategic planning effort in the fall of 2018.
Loving and generous God, you have given us the gifts of fellowship and food that we might enjoy the company of our brothers and sisters, nourishing our spirits as we nourish our bodies. Grant us the wisdom to appreciate these gifts every day as we gather to break bread, to laugh, to learn, to love one another as your son, our Savior Jesus Christ loved us. May we ever be Unifying, Learning and Serving. It is in His name we pray, Amen.
Significant Events and Updates
- Had a wonderful conversation with Bishop Barb Collins
- Met with members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees
- Visited with several alumni and board members participating in the TEY Summer Academy
- Hosted by Bishop James Dunlop at the offices of the Lower Susquehanna Synod
- Participated in a Board of Trustees meeting via tele-conference
- Traveled to Chicago to meet with Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
- Continued dialogues about potential grant funding with a program manager from a national foundation