First Rector to Guide Seminary

On March 13, Ray Pickett was named the first ever rector of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, which is one of California Lutheran University’s graduate school programs.

He was appointed to help guide the seminary in Berkeley, California and act as a spiritual leader for the seminary.

Pickett, a professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, was named one of three finalists. He was eventually appointed by a search committee of representatives from faculty, the advisory board, ministry members from Thousand Oaks and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Alicia Vargas, dean of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, said she is excited for the new position, a new member of their community and to see how Pickett will enhance their community as a whole.

“Every graduate school has a dean, but the seminary is a little more complex because we are a seminary of the church and we depend on donor funding,” Vargas said.  “The rector will take care of relations with the church community and will handle fundraising as well as acting as a spiritual leader for members of the seminary.”

Helping with the search committee was Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, vice president of Mission and Identity at Cal Lutheran.

“We had a lot of players in the search committee to find someone to take on the rector position,” Maxwell-Doherty said.  “We needed somebody fantastic.  We needed somebody who would be able to speak to the seminary and have administrative experience under their belt, and when it came down to it Ray fulfilled all those qualities.”

A new position for the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, the rector will handle all community organization factors as well as fundraising for the seminary itself. A job that Jim Nieman, president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, said he thinks Pickett will be able to handle perfectly.

“He is very active in his guild and with his writing on the New Testament.  He’s very well thought of by the students,” Nieman said.  “He has a very strong commitment to social justice and community organization. We’re all pretty torn up about him leaving.”

Having spent approximately 10 years at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Pickett is a beloved faculty member. They said they are excited to see him succeed in his new position in Berkeley.

“His work in the New Testament sets the vision for many students as a person who brings social justice to a community,” Nieman said.

The Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is eager to have his presence in the seminary.

“He has been known for his ways of engaging, and speaking with communities in new ways that we have never seen before,” Maxwell-Doherty said.

“We have never used or had a rector before,” Vargas said.  “I am absolutely looking forward to having another partner who is very respected and a highly-recommended member of the church who is so good at community organization.”

Pickett will begin his new position at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley June 1 in the newly moved seminary in the heart of the city, at the start of the episcopal year.

“Everybody who knows him likes him and everybody he knows likes working with him,” Nieman said.  “Ray is going to be an amazing person to bring the community of Berkeley together.”

Alexa Barnes
Staff Writer