Raymond Pickett is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has been a professor of New Testament for more than twenty years. He came to PLTS from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he was professor of New Testament since 2009. From 1996-2008 he was professor of New Testament at the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest in Austin, Texas where he also served as academic dean, and the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. He served as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Manhattan, Kansas and as associate pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In addition to teaching New Testament, Dr. Pickett has also been involved in faith-rooted community organizing in various contexts. He has been working with a national group of ELCA leaders who are creatively adapting the arts of community organizing to engage the larger community around issues of racial equity and social justice. He also works with national community organizing networks in grounding the organizing practices in scripture.
Dr. Pickett is deeply committed to forming faithful leaders equipped to mobilize individuals and communities of faith to make a difference in the world by taking risks, collaborating with others, and acting on our faith to make a difference in our communities. He is energized by the challenge of preparing leaders for a diverse, highly secularized West Coast context for a changing Church and complex world, and sees it as an opportunity to strengthen the public witness of the church by making theological education more contextual and incorporating practices and strategies for engaging the world.
Dr. Pickett is excited to come to PLTS at a time when the campus has moved to the heart of downtown Berkeley and the faculty have developed a new curriculum. The new location in the city provides the opportunity for the increased engagement with social and environmental realities and their relevance for the ministry of the church today. The new curriculum maintains the solid theological, biblical, ministerial and contextual formation and preparation that is a hallmark of Lutheran theological education while also emphasizing social and environmental justice as central to both the Gospel witness and the life of discipleship.
The Rev. Dr. Alicia Vargas is Dean and Associate Professor of Multicultural and Contextual Ministry Studies at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California and a Graduate School of California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California. She served as a Jail and Prison Chaplain in several correctional facilities and previously, taught Spanish Theatre at St. Olaf and Vassar Colleges. Dr. Vargas currently teaches Ministry Across Cultures, Public Ministry, and Spanish for Worship and directs individual student projects in jail/prison ministry and public ministry. She has published articles in the area of Mujerista Christology, and the book published by Augsburg Fortress: Como estudiar la Biblia/ How to Study the Bible.
Our multicultural God calls on the church to communicate the love of God in Christ-in, with, and under the rich diversity that embraces us all. Seminary days are brought to fruition as we teach, learn, and celebrate race, ethnicity and culture, one with another. Mutuality of experience intermingles with God's divine presence; we're prepared for great commission work in our diverse nation and world.
Leslie Veen, D.Min.
Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs
A native of Michigan and a long-time resident of San Francisco, the Rev. Dr. Leslie Veen in the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs. This position affords her the opportunity to work with students in many ways throughout their program with the seminary. Leslie has a deep love for helping students to grow in their faith in God and in their sense of call. When she is not living out her call at the seminary or in church work, she enjoys taking advantage of the many opportunities available in the Bay area to walk, hike, kayak, and engage in various cultural events.
Prior to becoming the Associate Dean, Leslie was the Director of Contextual Education for PLTS of CLU for seven years after having served as the Director of Field Education and Placement for San Francisco Theological Seminary (part of the Graduate Theological Union with PLTS) for six years. Leslie is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and serves as a Parish Associate for Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church in San Francisco.
Leslie brings her Doctor of Ministry dissertation studies into all of the work that she does for PLTS. She has a strong interest in the communal aspect that trinitarian theology brings to the broader religious culture. As Robert Bellah and Robert Putnam have shown, the dominant mainline culture in the United States of America has fully embraced rugged individualism as an important norm. This is in spite of being a largely Christian demographic that believes in a triune God whose very being is community. Religion and spirituality within this culture have also taken on an individualistic tendency. For her dissertation and project, Leslie brought together work from the social sciences along with a reexamination of classic Trinitarian theology, which gave rise to the idea of the perichoretic union of the Trinity, in conversation with Womanist and Asian feminist theologies to highlight the importance of community in the fields of religious studies and spirituality.