Rector named to help guide seminary

Professor active in faith-based community organizing

The Rev. Raymond Pickett, a professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, will begin at the Berkeley seminary on June 1.

Photo: Courtesy of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

(BERKELEY, Calif. – March 13, 2017) A Chicago professor, ordained pastor and community organizer will serve as the first rector of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University.

The Rev. Raymond Pickett, a professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), will begin at the Berkeley seminary on June 1.

In the new position, Pickett will work with external constituencies and oversee the life and administration of the seminary. Dean Alicia Vargas directs academic affairs.

For the past four years, Pickett and a group of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America leaders have engaged in community organizing to build relationships with neighbors and work together with a variety of partners to address issues such as racism, economic inequality and environmental problems. For three years, he chaired the committee that developed LSTC’s curriculum for preparing leaders for a church that is more engaged in communities and the struggle for justice. His research interests include political theology and political, cultural and economic interpretations of biblical texts.

Pickett’s background fits well with changes afoot at PLTS. After the end of the spring semester, the seminary will move downtown, where students will be able to work more closely with the surrounding community than they have been able to do from the seminary’s hilltop site. Also, a proposal is in the works to revise the curriculum to better connect students to communities and social issues.

“Dr. Pickett excels in connecting Christian faith, congregational transformation and civic engagement,” said Cal Lutheran President Chris Kimball. “I am confident that he will lead PLTS with vision, insight and courage in the years to come.”

Before coming to LSTC in 2009, Pickett served as a dean in the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest and helped develop a cross-cultural curriculum that prepared all students for Latino ministry. He taught there as well as at Phillips Theological Seminary at the University of Tulsa and Tulsa Junior College in Oklahoma, Wartburg Theological Seminary in Iowa and St. John’s College in England. Before teaching, he served at churches in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Pickett earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biblical studies from Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, a master’s in divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary and a doctorate from the University of Sheffield in England.

PLTS, the only ELCA seminary in the western United States, offers master’s degrees in divinity and theological studies as well as certificates. It also participates in combined programs offered through the Graduate Theological Union. For more information, go to