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India Dispatches: Sara Trumm

This J-Term, students from McCormick and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago will journey to South India.  Stay tuned to the CURE to keep up with their adventures!  This week, Sara Trumm (program coordinator at LSTC’s Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement) gives a brief introduction to the journey: 

In about 70 hours, we are going to begin this journey of 45 contact people, 28 travelers, 16 days, 12 denominations, 5 interfaith site visits, 4 seminaries, 3 states/cities of South India, and one very big God!

The logistics that have been occupying my mind for months are soon to come to reality.  It will be time to set many of the details aside, exercise my flexibility and patience.  Let it come… be a sponge… always expect the unexpected… and all the other good advice I have received in past cross-cultural experiences.

Aerial_view_of_kottayam_town_kerala
Kottayam, one of the destinations for the 2016 India Travel Seminar

But since this is the introductory blog for “Indian Christianity in Its Religiously-Plural Context: A Travel Seminar”, I’ll try to give a description of the planned events.  Other participants can blog about the day to day events of the journey.  Professor Peter Vethanayagamony at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) is the inspiration and director of this course. Peter V, Professor Mark Swanson and I led a group of students three years ago to Hyderabad and Guntur, India. Things went so well on that trip that we immediately began planning the next India seminar.  This time, we are joined by McCormick Theological Seminary (MTS) Professor Ken Sawyer and several students, staff, and alum from MTS.

The group is diverse in age, experience, race, and I’m sure we’ll find out many more differences and similarities along the way. The main two foci of the course are: Christian history in India (with a special emphasis on the influence of St. Thomas who is reported to have come to India in 52 AD) and Interfaith Relations.   We begin with a day of orientation in Chicago and then head to Chennai, Tamil Nadu on the Southeast side of India.  There, we stay at the St. Thomas International Centre and visit Gurukul Theological Seminary (Lutheran).  Our second city is Bangalore, Karnataka in the middle of South India.  United Theological College (an ecumenical seminary) will be our base from which we visit various religious and ecological sites.  And we will end in Kottayam/Kochi, Kerala on the West coast – the home of many Mar Thoma and Orthodox Christian communities.

We have wonderful connections with so many of our hosts.  There are several colleagues and classmates, alumni from both LSTC and MTS, and church leaders that we have encountered over the years.  We will be well taken care of.  We will be overwhelmed in so many ways.  We welcome your prayers for us as we travel, as we learn and grow, as we encounter the joys and struggles of new friends in a very different part of the world.

trummSara Trumm is the program coordinator for The Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Sara studied, traveled, and worked in India for 1 ½ years, where interfaith relations became an important aspect of her cross-cultural experiences and education. Upon her return to the US in 2008 she began in her present position. Learning from and working with the interfaith community continues to feed her own faith.