Monday, June 29, 2009

Luce Foundation Renews Grant to LTSP Asian Initiative

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a grant of $325,000 to The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). The grant is directed toward the seminary’s Asian initiative.

An initial grant of $75,000 from the Luce Foundation enabled the seminary to launch the Asian Theological Summer Institute (ATSI) in 2007. This annual event is designed to nurture the next generation of Asian and Asian-American scholars in theological education. The new grant ensures the continuation of ATSI for the next five years.

ATSI is a mentoring program that brings together doctoral level theology students who are Asian and Asian-American from the region’s major graduate schools for a week-long seminar led by distinguished Asian-American professors. The Institute serves to build a network of Asian-American scholars engaged in theological teaching and research. The Lutheran Seminary hosts the Institute during the Memorial Day week on the seminary campus in Philadelphia.

The Institute was originally conceived as part of LTSP’s commitment to promoting cultural diversity in theological scholarship. It was intended to complement the Black Church Studies and Latino Ministry programs of the seminary. Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar, Dean of LTSP and Luther D. Reed Professor of Systematic Theology, is the director of ATSI.

In the last three years, 45 Asian and Asian-American doctoral students from diverse racial, cultural and national backgrounds have benefited from the program. Doctoral students have come from various universities (Boston, Drew, Emery, Princeton, Vanderbilt and Yale) and seminaries (Catholic Theological Union; Fuller Theological Seminary; Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; LTSP; Westminster; Weston Jesuit, Boston; Union, NY, NY).

Guest faculty in the past included, Dr. R. S. Sugirtharajah (University of Birmingham, UK), Dr. Kwok Pui-lan (Episcopal Divinity School, MA), Dr. Anne Joh (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, IL). Dr. Eleazar Fernandez (United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, MN) Dr. Tat-siong Benny Liew (Pacific School of Religion (PSR), CA), Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian (LTSP), Dr. Fumitaka Matsuoka (PSR) and Dr. Andrew Sung Park (United Theological Seminary, OH).

“The new grant from the Luce Foundation,” says Dean Rajashekar, “enables ATSI to become a national program welcoming students from other regions of the country with an expanded guest faculty.” ATSI hopes to develop into a national network of Asian-American theological scholars. “The renewed grant from the Henry Luce Foundation is a recognition of LTSP’s role in promoting cultural diversity in theological education”,” according to Dr. Philip Krey, President of LTSP.

2009 Asian Theological Summer Institute at LTSP2009 ATSI faculty and student participants (click on the image to view/download high resolution version)

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