October 10, 2010

100 Years of Faith and Courage

Friends and graduates of PLTS gathered in Portland to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Divinity School of the Pacific Synod on October 8, 1910. The first class met at St. James Lutheran Church, so it was there and in the northwest that we gathered to honor those courageous visionaries whose dream lives today at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley.

Three local committees planned the weekend—one planned the Centennial Celebration at the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center on Saturday, one planned the Bach Cantata Vespers at St. James on Sunday and another planned a centennial reception in Olympia, Washington. Without their energetic local support, none of the celebrations would have been possible.

On Saturday night, celebrants gathered in the atrium of the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for a special banquet. Some 165 people came out to recognize the founding of the seminary and the faith and courage that have sustained it throughout the last century. Special music was provided by the Clos Enuf Kwire, with an arrangement of “Be Thou My Vision” written especially for the occasion.

Two seminary graduates, Rev. Christian Flohr, MDiv ’92, of Missoula, Montana, and Rev. Janet Young, TEEM 2010, of Hot Springs, Montana, were presented with Centennial Awards for Faith and Courage. Each of them donated a kidney this past year to someone in need. Christina Schmidt of Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland received the Mustard Seed Award for Faith and Courage for her work in gathering the funding to build a school in Cambodia. (Read more about the award winners here).

Dr. Lori Morgan, the Chief Administrative Officer for the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, and The Rev. David Brauer-Rieke, Bishop of the Oregon Synod, ELCA, brought greetings. The Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson, President of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, addressed the group on the topic “100 Years of Faith and Courage.”

On Sunday, area congregations celebrated with birthday cakes provided by St. Luke Lutheran Church. One of the members of that congregation provided 33 cakes, and members of the church delivered them to 23 ELCA congregations in the Portland area. The President, her husband, the Rev. Dr. Herbert Anderson; Joel S. Wudel, Vice President for Seminary Relations; and the Rev. Donna Duensing, MDiv ’83, Associate Director of Seminary Relations, were all deployed to local congregations to preach and bring seminary greetings.

Sunday afternoon, graduates and friends of PLTS were invited to a Centennial Reception at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Olympia, Washington. Members of that congregation teamed up with graduates and friends from Gloria Dei Lutheran Church to provide refreshments and food for some 65 people. Joel S. Wudel was on hand to bring a greeting and thank the local committee for its work.

On Sunday evening, the community gathered where the seminary was born, St. James Lutheran Church, for a special centennial celebration of the Bach Cantata Vespers. Dr. Phyllis Anderson was the featured preacher, and the worship concluded with the world premiere of the hymn commissioned for the occasion, “How, Lord?” The hymn, written by Nancy Nickel and Carl F. Schalk, is based on a text from Luke 13, and was accompanied by the Bach Cantata Vespers orchestra and organ. After vespers, worshipers gathered for a reception to conclude the weekend festivities.

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is grateful for the help and direction of all those who volunteered to make this celebration possible. Without your generous support and assistance, we could never have imagined such a wonderful weekend. To all the congregations throughout the country who observed October 10 as “Faith and Courage Sunday”, thank you. Your participation helped to make the day a success as well.

See photos of the weekend here!