The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Still serving after all these years ...

First ordained woman says, 'Never underestimate the persistence of God'

For nearly 45 years, Elizabeth A. Platz has served at the University of Maryland, College Park, quietly influencing generations of Lutheran students to remain active in the church and serve others. Former students speak highly of Platz's influence on them, her dedication to the church and some wonderful home-cooked meals she serves to hungry collegians.

In 1970 the former Lutheran Church in America ordained Platz at the university's Memorial Chapel. The first woman ordained a Lutheran pastor in North America, Platz has served her entire ministry as UM Lutheran campus pastor. On Nov. 22, the ELCA marks the 40th anniversary of her ordination.

Before her ordination, she was assistant Lutheran chaplain at the university. 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."

Platz attended the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg for a bachelor of theology degree, thinking she would teach or serve as a Christian educator.

Elizabeth A. Platz
Elizabeth A. Platz

What finally nudged her to candidacy for ordination was the call to serve as a "steward of the Holy Mysteries," or communion. "The pastor is an instrument," she said. "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. Preaching and presiding remain her calling.

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