From the Dean
Dear Family and Friends of PLTS,
On Epiphany Day, January 6, I began my new call as Dean (and “chief administrative officer”) at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, which as of January 1 is officially a part of California Lutheran University. It has been a month of many transitions, as staff here get used to new systems and accountabilities, as well as the benefits of being part of a much large educational institution. In the midst of such, we are committed to maintaining the distinct identity, ethos and mission of PLTS. Synergies such as this merger with CLU are not new for PLTS, but inter-Lutheran, ecumenical, interfaith, and ventures into daring new arenas have characterized PLTS and opened up new possibilities throughout its history. Like the ELCA, PLTS is “Always Being Made New”.
I am really looking forward to getting to know you and discovering together what we can do to enhance theological education in the West, diversify opportunities for learning, and support this amazing ELCA seminary, the only one in the western half of the U.S. I am eager to have conversations with many of you as we plan for an exciting future for PLTS.
Since being a student here in the 1970s, an every-changing and unique PLTS has formed and influenced me throughout my ministry – it has become part of my “DNA”. My husband, Bill Strehlow, and I got to know each other here, and were married in the Chapel of the Cross, so coming back here really does feel like coming “full circle” for us.
After graduating from PLTS, I served as the pastor of Faith American Lutheran Church in east Oakland, where I helped what was then a mostly white, working-class congregation to become more open and engaged with its diverse community. From there, we moved to New York City, where I worked on my Ph.D. in Theology at Union Theological Seminary, as well as pastored a small congregation in Brooklyn. After that, I served as a professor at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago until I was invited to serve as Director for Studies in the Church in Society unit of the brand-new ELCA. During the last two years of my time there, I also was a faculty member at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque.
In 1999, I was asked to serve as Director of the Theology and Studies Department of the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland. This especially involved staffing, writing and editing theological, ethical and interfaith work that cuts across the very diverse communion of over 70 million Lutherans around the world. These interactions have profoundly shaped the global perspectives that I now bring to PLTS, and my continual efforts to challenge some of the insular ways we approach church life in the U.S. I believe that through the power of the Spirit, we are transformed by those whose realities are most different from ours.
In 2010, we moved back to the U.S., while our son, Aaron, continues living and working in Geneva. Living most recently in Bellingham, WA, I have become more familiar with the challenges facing churches in the Pacific Northwest. I have been writing, doing some adjunct seminary teaching, and serving as interim pastor of a congregation near the Canadian border. I also taught last year at yet a third ELCA seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
Bill and I are grateful to be returning to the Bay Area, with lots of old haunts and friends, whom we look forward to re-connecting with, once we get more unpacked and settled in the President’s Residence on campus. Although I am called Dean here, my role in this position will function much like that of a president at our partner seminaries in the ELCA and GTU. I am grateful to be following my friend, Phyllis Anderson, who laid a lot of good foundations here on which we intend to build.
I hope we can meet and get more acquainted in the coming months. This might be at several upcoming special events at PLTS: the Luther Lecture on March 5 with Dr. Guillermo Hansen, a special Segerhammar Center (of CLU) event with Dr. Larry Rasmussen on April 9, and my installation on Saturday April 26 at 11 AM. I will be attending several synod assemblies in Regions 1 and 2, and more gatherings will be planned soon.
Thank you for your continued, faithful support of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Feel free to be in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 559-2710.
In the God we know in Christ who makes all things new,
The Rev. Karen L. Bloomquist, Ph.D.
Dean and Chief Administrative Officer
Click here to view my sermon for the opening of the spring semester.