Dying Congregation Gives PLTS New Life

$1.5 million from First Lutheran Church, Los Angeles

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary received the largest gift of its life from a dying congregation in southern California.

First Lutheran Church of Los Angeles knew it was time to close its doors. After 119 years of faithful ministry in southern California, the church worshiped one last time on April 23, 2006. The members of the dying congregation wanted to leave a lasting legacy, so they voted to give their property to the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA. It was the decision of the congregation that a portion of its assets would establish and endow a faculty chair at PLTS, which it helped to found in 1952. After the sale of the church building last December, a gift in the amount of $1.5 million was made to PLTS. The gift was presented by Bishop Dean W. Nelson to seminary president Dr. Phyllis Anderson at a special ceremony in Santa Barbara. It is the largest gift ever received by PLTS, and it will be used to fund the First Lutheran Los Angeles/Southwest Synod Chair for Reformation Theology and History.

“First Lutheran was the mother congregation of many congregations in the Los Angeles area. For nearly 120 years, the congregation was faithful in its ministries, with a strong commitment to mission. Even with the disbanding of the congregation and the sale of its former facilities, its strong tradition of mission and ministry will continue,” said Bishop Nelson.

“We are profoundly grateful for this amazing gift,” said President Anderson. “With it we know that for all the years to come, from generation to generation, the leaders we prepare for the church will be firmly grounded in the Lutheran theological tradition. To all the former members of First Lutheran Church of Los Angeles and our partners in the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA, we extend our deepest appreciation for their generosity and thoughtfulness.”

So Cal Synod gift