May 2024 issue

May 22, 2024

Dear Friends of ULS:

ULS celebrated commencement on May 18 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Lancaster, PA. It was a day filled with joy and hope. Bishop Elizabeth Eaton preached at the morning Festival of Eucharist and The Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson gave the commencement address. A festive luncheon for graduates and their families was a chance to meet many of those who supported our graduates through their seminary journey. While we are grateful to St. Peter’s for allowing us to hold our commencement ceremony there over the past several years, I’m pleased to announce that starting in 2025, ULS commencement will be held on the Gettysburg campus, with group transportation available from Philadelphia. We also hope to begin a new tradition on the Philadelphia campus by holding a special Matriculation Day celebration for incoming students in late August. More information will be forthcoming over the next month or so. Please stay tuned.

Things have quieted down a bit on both campuses and we begin preparations for the fall. I hope your summer is restful and look forward to seeing many of you at an upcoming ULS event.


In Christ,
Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin


From left: President R. Guy Erwin, Bishop Eaton, ULS Board Chair, the Rev. Dr. Peter Boehringer and ULS Dean. the Rev. Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian


President Erwin is pleased to announce that Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, The James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly Associate Professor of Public Theology, has been appointed Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs, effective July 1, 2024. She succeeds the Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian who will return to teaching after a 2024-25 sabbatical. Prior to coming to ULS, Dr. Smallwood served as Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School. She taught at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, Religious Freedom Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago Theological Seminary and Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR. As an attorney, Dr. Smallwood worked with Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, NC and as an Assistant District Attorney until she commenced her private practice that spanned more than two decades.

The Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood


The 18th Asian Theological Institute (ATI) was held on the Philadelphia campus this month. This weeklong session includes 21 doctoral students and seven faculty. Students were here from University of Notre Dame, Iliff School of Theology, Georgetown University, Fordham University, Emory University, University of Vienna and Payap University in Thailand to name a few. Under the leadership of founder and director Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar, ATI has mentored 320 doctoral students from universities in North America, Europe and Asia. It is supported by the Lily Endowment. Learn more about ATI.

ATI cohort from 2023 on the Philadelphia campus


The ULS Kindling Faith initiative in collaboration with the Churchwide office of the ELCA is presenting a series of webinars between now and election day in the fall. As our faith informs our day-to-day lives, Lutherans recognize that “faith is active in love [and] love calls for justice in relationships and structures of society” (ELCA, Social Statement on Church in Society, 1991). We also know the church is called to bea community that prays, deliberates, and acts together when it comes to complex social issues. In this election year, how might our Lutheran faith shape our thinking, acting, and voting on major issues? Join us to learn and ponder timely social teachings of the ELCA and to learn tips for leading discussions in your own community. Learn more and register here.


ULS runs two food pantries on both campuses open at all times to students. The Gettysburg food pantry is overseen by Deacon Nancy Gable, our Director of Admissions. Victoria Jesswein, Associate Archivist in the Wentz Library, manages donations. We are grateful to partner with the Panera Bread Day-End Dough-Nation © Program, which donated more than $24,000 in food to the pantry in 2023. Thank you Panera for your faithful partnership!


Deacon Nancy Gable and Victoria Jesswein