President's Charge to the PLTS class of 2013 | Student Spotlight: Gretchen Colby Awarded 2013 Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship | Alums in the News: Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis (MTS '03) and Michael Larson (MTS '11)

President's Charge to the PLTS class of 2013

"If anyone asks you about the President's charge to the graduates, you can say it went something like:  la, la, la, la, la, la, la  . . . . All my charges to you start with the letter L.

Leave:  It is time to go.  You are so very ready.  You are all dressed up with cap and gown and diploma in hand.  You are so full of knowledge and faith and experience. You are ready to fly.  Much as we hate to see you go and as sad as you may be to leave friends and time in your life that has been rich, your next task is to leave and take the adventure that is sent you.  And it is my job, on behalf of this community which loves you, to let you go.

Lead:  The gifts of leadership are richly distributed among the members of this class.  Your leadership has been evident in the life of this community this year.  It was evident on your internships, and in the classroom.  Your natural gifts have been honed and tested.  The church is calling you to lead us into the next expression of what this church is going to be.  You are being asked not just to follow established patterns, but to lead the way as path-finders and scouts to discover authentic ways for the church to share the love of God in Jesus Christ in our time and to inspire and empower God's people to follow.

Love:  You are called to be leaders and agents of change. Not everyone in your first call is waiting for you to come and make waves. I charge you to love the people to whom you are called; love them as you have been loved. As my husband Herbert would say: Leaders are lovers.  To love the world as it is -- is to begin to change it.  That is how God has transformed you into the person you have become, by loving you first.

Learn:  Keep on learning.  Keep on reading of course and learn from one another.  Take advantage of opportunities to renew and refresh your knowledge, to learn how to do new things, to do things better.   Most of all learn from your experience.  Reflect on what you are doing in ministry, on how God is working through you, on where your people challenge you, on what actually succeeds in making Christ known to another soul.  We have tried to prepare you for ministry in a church which is evolving and changing beyond the experience of your professors.  You will be charting new territory in many ways.  Learn the new patterns, the new language, the new community, the new language of faith.  The future of the church depends on your capacity to learn and adapt and change to meet the changing times.

Laugh:  Give yourself a break.  Take time to laugh.  Take time with friends and allow yourself to do some silly things, some playful things.  Give yourself space to unwind and not take yourself too very seriously.

The last L would have to be Lutheran, and even more for you to Live Lutheran. That's two L's. You know the doctrine.  You know the history.  You know the Confessions.  I don't need to charge you to become Lutheran in your bones.  But I probably do need to remind you that you have these ministries by the mercy of God. I need to reassure you that the unconditional love of God upholds you every step of the way.  I charge you to let yourself fall into the arms of your God and to fully live the grace you so rightly confess."

Phyllis Anderson, May 25, 2013

Student Spotlight: Gretchen Colby Awarded 2013 Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship

"Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has named Gretchen Colby as the 2013 Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholar.

 The Joel R. Workin Scholar is a publicly-identified LGBTQ seminarian who embodies Joel's passion for justice and faith in their lives and ministry. This award comes with a financial gift to support the Scholar's study. In addition, the Scholar represents ELM throughout the year.

Gretchen was chosen from a pool of excellent candidates. The Joel R. Workin Scholarship Committee includes three friends of Joel's: the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, Greg Egertson, and Michael Nelson; former Scholar the Rev. Jen Rude; and ELM Executive Director Amalia Vagts.

The scholarship is funded through the Joel R. Workin Memorial Endowment. Donors may make planned or immediate gifts to the endowment by contacting Amalia Vagts at 563-382-6277.

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries gives thanks for all LGBTQ seminarians who are bringing their voices to this church. We are especially thankful for those who took time to honor Joel by applying for this scholarship.

About Gretchen Colby:

Gretchen has served as intern at Trinity Lutheran Church in Manhattan, NY since last August. She is studying at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA and is expected to graduate in May 2014.  Gretchen received her bachelor degree at Vassar with a major in Biology and a minor in Latin American Studies.  In addition to her ministry work, Gretchen has long been involved with teaching in California and abroad in Chile.  In August, Gretchen will marry Jill Rode, an MDiv student at Luther Seminary and fellow member of Proclaim.

In her essay for the Working Scholar program, Gretchen wrote:

"Allowing myself to be called into a space of vulnerability has let me connect with pastors on my candidacy committee, who share their own stories of love and relationship; it has allowed me to show my internship congregation what a queer intern is like (in fact very much like all interns, but mostly like me); and it has allowed me to discuss the mystery of love and the politics of homosexuality with my family.  Not all conversations have been positive; not all prisons want to be opened.  Yet, these new beginnings for growth and life are continually offered to me and to the people around me by God in grace and love."

In finding out she was chosen for the scholarship, Gretchen wrote:

"I am very honored to be receiving the Joel R. Workin scholarship this year.  As a new member of Proclaim, it is affirming to be chosen in this way as a representative of the group.  Looking towards the challenge of my final year of seminary full of final courses, approval essays and interviews, and the challenge of the first call process, I feel reassured knowing that I will have a whole community behind me to support me in this journey.  I am privileged to be a part of Proclaim."

Here is what members of the Committee had to say of Gretchen:

"As a committee we found Gretchen's resume impressive in the way it reflected her focus on service to others through her work with youth, volunteer work in Chile, and ability to preach in both English and Spanish.  In her essay and resume - but mostly in the essay - we strongly sensed Gretchen's call to justice through the obstacles she had to overcome not only with her church, but her personal life."'

Alums in the News: Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis (MTS '03) and Michael Larson (MTS '11)

PLTS Alum Robyn Provis (MTS '03), who was called to be the pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minn. last spring, was recently featured in an online article for her work in suicide prevention and marriage equality:

"When the news of the passage of the marriage equity bill by the Minnesota House of Representatives reached Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis, the first person she wanted to share it with was her wife of nearly eight years, Kathy Luebbe.

Provis and Luebbe were married in Toronto, Canada, and for years she says they have played a game on road trips of "Now we're legally married. Whoops, now we're not."

The long road to marriage equity mirrors the journey Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis has taken professional and personally to arrive where she is today, pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and married to Kathy, a music teacher. Provis returned to college at age 45 after having a first career in journalism and advertising.

After receiving her Master of Theological Studies in 2003 from the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA, she earned her doctorate in 2010 from the Episcopal Divinity School of Cambridge, MA.

Q. What is the biggest challenge you've taken right now?

I love life and I love to push myself by taking on multiple simultaneous goals. Currently I am the pastor of a diverse church where I am devoted to caring for the congregation and neighborhood. I believe the good news of the gospel isn't good news until its good news for everyone. I have a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to "love one another." I don't want to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I'd rather talk about the joy they were feeling that gave way to the dance. My hope is that all faiths can stop fighting over who is in and who is out and get down to alleviating poverty, discrimination, and hopelessness. The two areas that inspire me the most are marriage equality and suicide prevention. Those may be disparate topics but they are important to me.

Q.What inspired you to take on this challenge?

I lost my son Jeremiah to suicide when he was 26 years old a decade ago. I will advocate for prevention and anti-bullying until my dying day. Marriage equality is at the top of my list. Love is love. One day we'll look back and try to tell our grandchildren why it took so long.

Q.What will you do when you succeed?

I will weep with joy. I'll know we've succeeded when it's never again a topic of conversation. I look forward to that perfect day, thankful that love and reason prevailed."

Find the original article here.


Michael Larson (MTS '11), currently serving as music and arts ministry director at Lutheran Church of the Cross in West Fargo, was featured in an article about Project F-M, based in Fargo and Moorhead, Minn. 

The article states:

"Michael Larson, 26, grew up Lutheran in rural Minnesota. His faith was formed and kept solid through music, eventually leading him to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif.

“I came with many questions, and left with even more, but it was a way I was able to think about them finally in a more graceful way,” Larson said.


“I’m thankful for finding The Project,” said Larson, currently music and arts ministry director at Lutheran Church of the Cross in West Fargo. “It’s given me an outlet that allows me to be myself without fear of being rejected. As a gay man, I’ve found it difficult to be my entire self within some church institutions.”

Larson plays an integral role in the group’s “Sounds Sacred to Me” events, which incorporate music and poetry to engage and inspire participants.

“I love how music can proclaim something beautiful and something of grace and love and something bigger in ways that sometimes spoken words and didactic talking fail to do,” he said.

According to Larson, these events allow participants to explore within their community what it means to be human in an ever-changing, chaotic world.

“There’s a space for people to name the chaos in our lives and the world and yet know we are part of something greater,” he said."

The original article can be found here. 

These articles is from the June 2013 issue of Above The Fog, the PLTS monthly e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe, and receive great articles and seminary news right in your inbox.