April 22, 2011
Dear Bishops and Associates in our Supporting Synods:
I’m writing to you, our close friends and partners in the synods of regions 1 and 2, to tell you about collaborative ventures under consideration at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. I’d like to reassure you that there are no plans for PLTS to move. I’d also like to get ahead of the curve on rumors which are bound to be circulating and to solicit your help in giving your people good information.
At the PLTS board meeting in November 2010, we celebrated five consecutive years of solvency and the repayment of previous borrowing from the endowment. We also realized that we would be facing a deficit in the current fiscal year and would need to make staff reductions in order to balance the budget for next year. We are in that painful process right now. We are facing reduced income from our faithful synods and churchwide organization and downward enrollment trends in all our seminaries. We know we need a long term strategy that is going to contain costs and enable us to serve our constituencies with quality theological education that is more flexible and accessible. We have been encouraged by an ELCA task force to explore options for collaboration with ecumenical partners and with Lutheran colleges and universities up to and including merger. Here are two kinds of collaboration that are currently being explored.
* We are in conversation with two of our partner schools within the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) about coordinating our academic programs and sharing faculty. The strongest expression of that consolidation would be for the three schools to form a single faculty with a common dean. We would develop a common core of classes, provide denominationally specific classes, and continue to give our students access to the wide variety of classes from the 9 seminaries in the GTU. The schools would each retain their separate identity, denominational relations, traditional constituencies and governance. Our active partners in this discussion are Pacific School of Religion (PSR) and Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP). Other GTU schools might join in this closer collaboration.
* We are also in conversation with the Lutheran university in our region, California Lutheran University (CLU) about a closer relationship. One possible result of these conversations is a merger in which PLTS would become the school of theology or “divinity school” of CLU. At this point, all of these discussions assume that PLTS would stay in its present location and retain its invaluable relationships within the GTU. We have been following closely the movement of Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, toward a likely merger with Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina. In this case, both schools will retain their locations. We see possibilities here for economies of scale, delivery of educational programs on both campuses, and new joint-programs emerging out of the enriched resources of the two schools.
We are very excited about the possibilities of both these options and do not see them as mutually exclusive. We are very grateful for the generous, creative and cooperative spirit of our partners. Nothing is decided, but we are hopeful. At its April 28-30 meeting, the PLTS board will be discerning whether either or both of these possibilities should be taken to the next step, that is, from discovery to negotiation. We will keep you updated from time to time along the way. We hope to have a lot more clarity by this time next year.
We welcome your questions, suggestions, concerns, encouragement, and prayers. We are living in very auspicious times when patterns for the life of the church and its treasured institutions will be adapting to new circumstances. We are all learning to thrive in new ways.
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
2770 Marin Ave, Berkeley, CA 94708
Within the space of a few months, PLTS now joins Southern in looking to merge, one path to join California Lutheran University (similar to Southern joining with Lenoir-Rhyne), while the other path is much murkier. Should the choice be to merge with the Graduate Theogical Union, PSR is the seminary which has offered "Seeing the Goddess in Worship" and seeking the "Divine Feminine within a Lesbian Context" as summer courses.
I received this as an alum of PLTS.
And so the aftershocks of CWA 2009 [ELCA convention] continue. Of course, it is all the economy, I am sure.....
Southern Seminary News
Seminary and Lenoir-Rhyne University Plan to Unite
March 29, 2011
COLUMBIA, SC – Planning is under way for Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) to unite with Lenoir-Rhyne University (LRU), a Lutheran liberal arts university in Hickory, N.C., according to the Rev. Dr. Marcus Miller, seminary president. Under the proposal, the seminary will become the university's school of theology. It will continue to operate in Columbia, S.C., and remain a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
The plan for union emerged following a study into the feasibility of partnerships between the two institutions. "This opportunity to be a part of Lenoir-Rhyne University enhances the seminary's ability to fulfill its mission to the church," said Dr. Miller. "The seminary understands that to meet the needs of the church in today's environment we must create innovative solutions that are sustainable and effective. The partnership will allow the seminary to develop a new and more effective administrative model, make theological education more accessible for a greater number of people, and will allow the seminary in Columbia to continue its historic tradition of preparing women and men for ministry in the church."
The boards of trustees of each institution, at their spring 2011 meetings, affirmed the intent to pursue a merger after hearing the report of the partnership feasibility study authorized in the fall of 2010. The committee to study the feasibility of stronger partnerships consisted of senior leadership at the two institutions.
"We are fortunate that both of these institutions are excelling in their respective areas and because of this we are able to enter into this agreement," said Dr. Wayne Powell, LRU president.
"Throughout the feasibility study, conversations were rich and fruitful. The seminary appreciates the high quality of the Lenoir-Rhyne program and the seminary welcomes the affirmation we have received from the university. We believe this alignment will strengthen the mission of both schools," said Miller.
The trustees also approved a preliminary timeline for completion of the merger. Beginning in the Summer of 2011, the two institutions will identify areas where they can combine operations to become more efficient and effective. As part of this process, LRU and LTSS will initially begin to combine their administrative responsibilities and operations in enrollment management, financial aid, and advancement. These will occur through management contracts or enhanced partnerships within the existing seminary structure. In March of 2012, the trustees of each school will receive a final recommendation for an agreement and plan to merge LTSS into LRU as its school of theology, with the earliest possible effective date for a completed merger being in the Summer of 2012.
"There is still a lot of work to be done before this process can be finalized," said Miller. "We are diligently studying every aspect of the seminary, from budget and personnel needs, to accreditation and ecclesiastical requirements. From what we know right now, we believe we can work through all of the details and be prepared to move forward by this time next year."
The trustees of both institutions will be briefed regularly and the applicable accrediting bodies (the Association of Theological Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), as well as the ELCA churchwide organization and Synods of Region 9 of the ELCA, will continue to be engaged and consulted [bullied into submission] throughout the process. Supporting synods of the ELCA for LTSS are the Virginia Synod, North Carolina Synod, South Carolina Synod, Southeastern Synod, Florida-Bahamas Synod, and Caribbean Synod.
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, founded in 1830, is located in Columbia, S.C. One of eight seminaries of the ELCA, the seminary offers graduate and post-graduate degrees to men and women from many Christian denominations and traditions.
Established in 1891, Lenoir-Rhyne University is a private, coeducational university located in Hickory, N.C. It is affiliated with the N.C. Synod of the ELCA and is open to students from all religious backgrounds seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees.
GJ - As I wrote before, Mary Lou College has made itself irrelevant--oh, the irony--by becoming a Willow Creek campus. Once WELS cut support for schools from 50% of the budget to 25%, tuition had to zoom upwards. State schools are cheaper and offer useful degrees.
The Wisconsin and Little Norwegian sects do not need three little colleges within a day's drive, so they will not have them in the future. One campus could easily provide everything needed.
The enormous investment in buildings at all three locations will be seen as Schwan's Folly, because the ELS will no longer exist in 20 years (their study). WELS may continue a little longer, but not much.
Thus the two sects have repeated what the Church of Rome does so well. They sold indulgences to Schwan, and those indulgence bought them buildings to glorify Marvin's name. After Vatican II, Rome was left with an enormous surplus of irrelevant, expensive buildings, which they rented out hither and yon to help pay the expenses. Willowcreek's Little College was a Roman Catholic school. Prairie was a Roman Catholic school backed by the Kennedy mob. Concordia Mequon was a Catholic school.
The Church Growth revolution in WELS/ELS has done more damage to them than Vatican II did to Romanism. Vatican II was quite conservative, but the Catholic Left used it to promote and support their agenda.
WELS-ELS-LCMS: all three are just pathetic imitators of Rome. No wonder pastors escape for the Real Thing - the Church of Rome Herself. They already worship Holy Mother Church, they only need to find the ultimate example.