February 2024 issue

February 26, 2024

Dear Friends of ULS:

It appears winter can’t decide if it’s coming or going here in Philadelphia and Gettysburg. Even with the quiet a new snowfall brings, things are busier than ever at the Seminary.

We have numerous spring events on the horizon, leading up to our May commencement -- more on that in an upcoming issue. Our annual Preaching with Power series, offered through the Urban Theological Institute, runs March 10 – 13, with one lecture and five sermons on the Philadelphia campus and at partnering local churches.

On March 18, New York Times bestselling author Anthony Ray Hinton, will present the annual Nolde Human Rights lecture, sharing his experience on being wrongfully convicted of murder and spending 30 years on death row. More information on both can be found on our calender of events.

We also have exciting news to share about grants totaling three million dollars that will greatly impact African American Congregations, Asian Theological Education and Aging Adult Communities.

Lastly, we are lifting up accomplishments of several faculty and staff. I hope you enjoy this issue of UNITED NEWS.

In Christ,

Rev. R. Guy Erwin, Ph.D.
President, Ministerium of Pennsylvania Chair and Professor of Reformation Studies

United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) recently received three grants over the totaling more than $3 million:

  • $1.1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving Congregations Initiative to support “From Surviving to Thriving: Healing African American Churches Create Spiritual and Congregational Resilience in A Post-Pandemic Context.” This is a collaboration between the Urban Theological Institute at ULS, The Oikos Institute for Social Impact, Crossing Capital Group, and the Center for Clergy & Congregational Wellness.
  • $1.8 million from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to further support the Asian Theological Institute at ULS, formerly known as the Asian Theological Summer Institute. This renewal grant will enable the expansion and renaming of the Institute and sustain the annual flagship summer program on the Philadelphia campus for renowned theologians and faculty scholars who mentor PhD/THD students of Asian heritage.
  • $250,000 from the Lutheran Foundation for Long Term Living to assist ULS in implementing the project “Aging Grace-Fully: Author Lecture Series” through the Foundation’s Community Benefit Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to encourage programming that enhances the lives of people in a variety of societal settings, especially ministries that celebrate the contributions of aging adults in society.

Read the full article.


Preaching with Power 2024, offered through the Seminary’s Urban Theological Institute, will feature one lecture and five sermons (all free) on the ULS Philadelphia campus and at local churches:

· March 10, 6PM at ULS: Rev. Jocelyn Kahn Hart Lovelace

· March 11, 7PM at Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia: Rev. Dr. Cory Jones

· March 12, 11:45AM at ULS: Lecture with Rev. Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams and at 7PM at Reformation Lutheran Church in Philadelphia with Rev. Dr. Kevin Vandiver

· March 13, 11:45AM at ULS: Rev. Carolyn C. Cavaness and at 7PM at Dare to Imagine Church in Philadelphia with Rev. Dr. Willie Dwayne Francois III.

More information and bios on our calendar of events.


President Erwin was interviewed for a feature article entitled, “ Facing theological ed’s existential crisis” in The Christian Century.


Kindling Faith presents New York Times best-selling author Anthony Ray Hinton, who will present the Annual Nolde Human Rights Lecture on March 18 at 7PM on the Philadelphia campus of ULS. Mr. Hinton, who was wrongly convicted of murder, spent 30 years on Alabama's death row. His story is a decades-long journey to exoneration and freedom and reflected in the book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row. Mr. Hinton will sign copies of his book after the lecture. Register here to attend this free event in person or online.


Bishop Patricia Davenport
(SEPA) invites you to join her on a spiritual journey to Greece and the Greek Islands from June 18 - June 29.

Details and sign up here. For general questions or concerns, please reach out to Mrs. Yvonne Curtis via email (in the subject line list Greece Tour).


Pastor Christopher Otten, retired military chaplain serving as the Assistant to the Presiding Bishop for Federal Chaplaincies Ministries, will visit ULS to talk with students about military chaplaincy during 12Noon Worship, March 13 on the Gettysburg campus and April 24 on the Philadelphia campus, followed by lunch at 1PM.


Lifting up our staff and faculty

Andrea Oslikova

Congratulations to Andrea Oslikova, Senior Engagement and Major Gift Officer, who was recommended for the LWF International Seminar for Lay Persons in Church Leadership by Bishop James Dunlop (Lower Susquehanna Synod) to participate in the 7th LWF International Seminar for Lay Persons in Church Leadership, June 22 – July 1 in Wittenberg and Geneva. "I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to meet and collaborate with Lutheran World Federation partners from across the world," said Andrea. "I love the work of the Church, and my call as a lay leader.”

Victoria Jesswein, a member of the Wentz Library staff on the Gettysburg campus, has been promoted from Assistant Archivist to Associate Archivist. Victoria will have a larger scope in decision making related to the archives and also in the planning, prioritization, and execution of new projects. She will also have an explicit role in overseeing archival work on the Philadelphia campus.

Jorie Thuon, a member of the Krauth Library staff on the Philadelphia campus, has been promoted to Assistant Librarian and Archivist. Jorie previously served as Temporary Processing Archivist and will continue with archival work and take on responsibilities for acquisitions and cataloging.

Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft, Sr., The Jeremiah A. Wright Sr. Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics in African American Studies, appeared in the PBS series, Gospel, “The Gospel Train,” on February 12.

In February, Rev. Dr. Nelson Rivera, St. John’s Summit Visiting Professor of Theology and Ethics, attended the meeting of the Select Learning Board and participated in an Adult Forum presentation on the history and current discussion in the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Ecumenical Dialogue at Upper Dublin (PA) Lutheran Church. He also participated in an Adult Forum presentation and discussion on the ELCA Social Statement on Caring for Creation at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale, PA.

The 18th volume of a series co-edited for Springer Palgrave Macmillan by Rev. Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian, The H. George Anderson Chair and Professor of Mission and Cultures, Dean and Vice President of Student Services, was recently published. The book is Unsettling Theologies Memory, Identity, and Place. Other titles in the series can be found here.

ULS campuses:
7301 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19119

61 Seminary Ridge
Gettysburg, PA 17325