The Rev. Dr. David J. Lose (third from right) gathers with recent graduates and current students on the the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia's campus. (Photo by John Kahler)

The Rev. Dr. David J. Lose (third from right) gathers with recent graduates and current students on the the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia’s campus. (Photo by John Kahler)

by Sue Ann Rybak

David Lose, 49, who earned both his Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia (LTSP), 7301 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy, said he was “humbled by the community’s trust and thrilled by the prospect of working alongside great colleagues and students to lead the school into the future God has prepared for us.”

“For 150 years, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia has formed public leaders for a public church,” said Lose, who prior to his appointment held pastorates at several churches in New Jersey. “Its deep confessional roots, ecumenical commitments, and responsiveness to its context and constituents have never been needed more than today.”

“Dr. Lose’s exemplary skills include strategic planning, relationship building, and an entrepreneurial spirit that will enable him to guide the seminary into a strong and bold future,” said the Rev. Dr. Elise Brown, who chairs the seminary’s board of trustees, in a statement announcing the appointment of Lose.

Despite the challenges many churches, seminaries, and synod face, Lose said that as long as congregations continue to help people “navigate the meaning and purpose of their faith in their daily lives,” congregations will have a future.

Lose, who lives in Kennett Square, said the seminary must continue “Moving Forward in Faith,” the theme of the seminary’s 100th anniversary. By examining what kind of leaders congregations need,” the school can determine “what kind of seminary it needs to be in the 21st century.

He added that the The Master of Arts in Public Leadership program (MAPL) is a perfect example of an innovative program designed to “serve the church and the community in a new way.”

The program prepares students to work in a variety of social ministry organizations, social service agencies and advocacy organizations through the integration of theological and professional disciplines.

Dr. Jon Pahl, who designed the MAPL program, said in an earlier interview in April that “the program is designed for people who have a spiritual foundation and care about social justice issues, but don’t want to be ordained.”

“The seminary,” he added, “has a strong program to educate students in classical theological disciplines, to interpret text and understand context, and then articulate the depths of religious commitments. The MAPL program is intentionally inter-religious and designed to prepare students to engage our pluralist culture.”

Students take classes at the seminary and either the School of Social Work or the Fox School of Business at Temple University.

Lose said it is just one example of “how the role of the seminary has changed in the last 30 years” to meet the needs of students in the 21st century. He noted that while it is a challenging time to be a congregation, synod or seminary, it is also an exciting time.

He said the seminary has changed from its role of just training pastors and church care leaders to training all types of pastors, youth leaders and professionals to understand how their faith plays a role in their job.

“The seminary will continue to be a faith community dedicated to helping people understand, articulate and live their faith,” Lose said. “One the things that make the seminary great is the dedication of the faculty who are continually looking for ways to engage the community.”

Lose, who is a sixth-generation Lutheran pastor, said that growing up he never felt pressured to be a pastor and for a while considered studying law. After college, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to join a more conservative Anglican seminary or attend a Lutheran seminary.

He recalled a discussion with Dr. Gordon Lathrop, a seminary professor, regarding his beliefs on confession. Lose said he was feeling conflicted. At the end of the conversation, Lathrop leaned over and said, “It’s okay if you’re not a Lutheran.”

Lose, said he remembered thinking, “No, it’s NOT!”

But, somehow, he said Lathrop’s words gave him permission to reflect on his own beliefs. He explained that his faith actually deepened after he was able to meditate and contemplate his faith.

Dr. John Reumann was another influential professor Lose had as a student.

“Dr. Reumann was a gentle and kind soul in every possible way, but at the time most of us found him amazingly intimidating – not because of any way he interacted with us – but because he was so incredibly smart,” Lose said.

He explained that “on any given issue, whether it was an issue of grammar, theology of justification or the relationship with sanctification, Dr. Reumann would not just offer you a comprehensive view of one view or his view, he would give you a comprehensive view of every view that had been articulated in scholarly literature to the point that when he was done, you had no idea what he really thought.”

Lose said it is just one example of how the seminary offers students multicultural and urban concentrations to meet today’s evolving ministry needs. While LTSP continues to maintain its Lutheran, confessional and Philadelphia traditions, it no longer just focuses on educating Lutherans.

“The church has never needed leaders more, after all, who are simultaneously grounded in their Christian tradition and identity, even as they are flexible and innovative in their approach to ministry as we discern together the best way to walk into the future and meet those challenges and reap those opportunities that God is preparing for us,” Lose wrote in a letter from the president on the seminary’s website.

He went on to say that when he reads the Bible, he is “always struck by the fact that the pull of its narrative is toward the future, toward the ‘new thing’ God is doing.”

Lose added that “the future is always open because it is God who holds it and calls us into it.” He said God is constantly calling us to continue to move forward in faith with “an open mind and heart at what’s ahead so that we can be truly faithful to the legacy we’ve inherited.”