Forty Years Later, ELCA Pastor Elizabeth Platz Still Serves Maryland Students

COLLEGE PARK, Md.--()--For nearly 45 years, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Platz has served here at the University of Maryland (UM), quietly influencing generations of Lutheran students to remain active in the church and in service to others. Those whose lives she has touched speak highly of Platz's influence on them, her dedication to the church and some wonderful home-cooked meals she serves to hungry college students.

In 1970 the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) ordained Platz at UM's Memorial Chapel, where she serves today. Platz, the first woman ordained a Lutheran pastor in North America, has served her entire ministry as UM Lutheran campus pastor. On Nov. 22 this year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will mark the 40th anniversary of her ordination.

Before she was ordained Platz served five years as assistant Lutheran chaplain at the university, after earning a bachelor of divinity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (LTSG), an ELCA seminary in Gettysburg, Pa. Looking back, Platz, a native of Pittsburgh, said she couldn't have imagined becoming ordained.

"I came to it slowly," she said. "Never underestimate the persistence of God."

It was her academic interest in theology that brought Platz to the seminary, after which she thought she would teach or serve as a Christian educator. People such as the Rev. Eric W. Gritsch, now retired LTSG professor, and the Rev. Donald R. Heiges, LTSG president, prepared her way toward ordination, she said. What finally brought Platz to become a candidate for ordination was the call to serve as a "steward of the Holy Mysteries," the Eucharist or Holy Communion.

"That's why I finally came to being called to the ministry," Platz said. "The pastor is an instrument. The pastor's 'I-ness' is to be put aside … for the total focus is on the altar and the cross." Forty years later, she is still overwhelmed when the Communion liturgy begins. Celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Communion and preaching the Word of God remains her calling.

Read the complete story and get photos at http://www.elca.org/News/Releases.asp?a=4612 on the ELCA website.

Contacts

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
John R. Brooks, 773-380-2958
john.brooks@elca.org

Contacts

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
John R. Brooks, 773-380-2958
john.brooks@elca.org