Thursday, 25 July, 2013

Gift of labour by students and staff

The gift of labour or shrama dana brought together students and staff in the UTC in the evening at 5:00 P.M. in the construction space of the UTC Centenary Mahatma Gandhi Hostel and Quarters building project. The stones which were to be moved from the construction space by the builder was taken by the UTC community and kept aside to be placed in different parts of the campus so that it will not go waste.

The evening brought together both young and old community members and everyone lend their hand in transporting the stones. Women and men moved in tandem and worked towards the slogan "If we are together, we can move mountains."

The coming together became a time of work and fellowship. Work is worship was reflected in the energy showed by all community members.

Tuesday, 23 July, 2013

Remembering Ilavarasan, Interrogating Casteism: Reimagining Christian Public Witness in India

Dr. Mohan Larbeer
Rev. Raj Bharath Patta
A public lecture on the topic "Remembering Ilavarasan, Interrogating Casteism: Reimagining Christian Public Witness in India" was held in UTC at 5:00 P.M. yesterday. Rev. Raj Bharath Patta, the General Secretary of the Student Christian Movement India (SCMI) gave the main lecture and it was moderated and commented on by Dr. Mohan Larbeer, the secretary of the Board of Theological Education of the Senate of Serampore College (BTESSC). The lecture was jointly conducted by UTC and SCMI.

Rev. Raj Bharath Patta explained the loss of life of Ilavarasan, a dalit man, as a murder and something for which all are responsible. He gave a blow by blow account of the issue which lead to the death of Ilavarasan. The violence of the Vaniyars against dalits was brought out clearly. He saw the incident as
1. The violence against dalit communities after inter caste marriages.
2. There is a anti-dalit hate campaign and also an attempt to say that they are coming up and dressing up like others.
3. There is a political conspiracy to spit venom against dalit communities and this is for the creation of an electoral constituency.
4. There is an ongoing increase of suicides among dalits in various places.
5. There is a nexus between caste and politics, caste and patriarchy and caste and power.

For Raj Bharath the need to remember Ilavarasan today is that he reminds us of several others and their struggles against injustice. Ilavarasan reminds us of Rosa Parks, the modern civil rights movement and the life of resilience. Ilavarasan also reminds us of Nelson Mandela and archbishop OscarRomero. Rev. Bharath pointed out that high caste Hindu educated youth are campaigning against inter caste marriages and saying that their crusade is to preserve Indian traditions. He therefore said that inter caste marriages are the need of the hour if we have to thwart false traditions. Dr. Ambedkar also had such a view.

Rev. Bharath then articulated the problem of caste with what Felix Wilfred and Satish Deshpande have written and talked about as our silence on caste. Rev. Bharath finally brought in an analysis from the bible in the form of the story of Cain and Abel and said that Ilavarasan's death is like Abel's death. It was not death but murder. The retort of Cain "Am I my brother's keeper?" is what we are doing by not talking about Ilavarasan. Good news for the poor is bad news to the rich.

He then talked of a positive story in the bible regarding Ruth and Boaz and how their marriage was inter-territorial and went beyond set boundaries. This is the same route the church must take in India. He ended with a letter written to Ilavarsan confessing our inability to help him and affirming that Ilavarasan is now an epitome of hope to the community.

Dr. Larbeer started by saying that he has always been a supporter of inter caste love marriages. He gave a succint report on the real situation of caste in Tamil Nadu referring to the problem between the Vaniyar dominated PMK and the dalits. He brought out the key issue of the economics of caste and how this was also very much an issue of how the social upward mobility of the dalits was a problem to other castes. He also reminded those present of the new expression of dalit capitalism. He ended by saying "No one can murder or kill love." Students and faculty from UTC and the SCMI unit from Goodwill Women's Christian College attended the lecture.

Dr. Sahayadhas introduced the speakers, Dr. Allan Palanna and Dr. George Zachariah made venue arrangements and took care of logistics, Ms. Veronica, MTh II and Mr. Paul Karunakar, BD III helped in the conduct of the programme and Rev. Dinesh, MTh II offered prayer.

Sunday, 21 July, 2013

Public lecture by the Department of Theology and Ethics and SCMI

The department of Theology and Ethics of the UTC and the Student Christian Movement of India will be jointly hosting a public lecture on "Remembering Ilavarasan, Interrogating Casteism: Re-imagining Christian Public Witness in India" at 5:00 P.M. on Monday, July 22, 2013 at the Ziegenbalgh chapel in the United Theological College.

Rev. Raj Bharath Patta, General Secretary of the SCMI will be delivering the lecture and it will be presided over by Rev. Dr. Mohan Larbeer, the Secretary, Board of Theological Education of the Senate of Serampore College. All are invited.

Thursday, 18 July, 2013

Professorial lecture of Rev. Dr. R. Sahayadhas

The Rev. Dr. R. Sahayadhas delivered his professorial lecture titled "A Theologians Wrestling with Anger and its Trajectories in shaping theology" in UTC yesterday at 4:30 P.M. in the Tagore Hall. The lecture was chaired by the Dean of the Masters Division, Rev. Dr. K. Jesurathnam and introductory remarks were made by the dean of the Doctoral Division, Dr. Nalini Arles. Dr. Sahadhas started by thanking his teachers Dr. O.V. Jathanna, Dr Sathianathan Clarke, Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian, Dr. Christopher Doraisingh, his faculty colleagues, principal, all UTC staff and wife Usha and son Benil.

Dr. Sahayadhas in his lecture talked about the role of anger in our lives and tried to bring out the theology of anger and how it can be channelised to be used by all communities who face oppression. He introduced the participants in the lecture to how anger was seen over the centuries. He looked at anger from the perspective of church fathers, Martin Luther and Buddha.

He then tried to contextualize it by talking of the experience of the Arunthathiyars. He spoke of how they are angry at being oppressed and relegated to the sidelines. But this anger according to Dr. Sahayadhas has taken a good direction and has become the anger of hope rather than the anger of despair. He reminded those present that theology is very ritualistic in India and we have to come out of this.

 Those present congratulated Dr. Sahayadhas and his family.

Rev. Dr. R. Sahayadhas, his wife Usha and their son Benil

Monday, 15 July, 2013

Fr. Cedric Prakash on the Christian Response to the Challenges that face India Today

Fr. Cedrick Prakash SJ, a Catholic Priest of the Jesuit order and director of Prashant, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit centre for human rights, spoke in UTC on Sunday at 4:00 P.M. in a programme arranged by the Carey Society on the "Christian Response to the Challenges that face India Today". The highly decorated and honoured priest continues to be involved in his work in safe guarding the human rights of people in India. He emphasized on the Christian response in terms of politics and fundamentalism in general that is prevailing in India.

Fr. Cedric mentioned an incident of Narendra Modi being invited by YMCA and L. K. Advani being invited by a bishop in Kerala and later how the news got fabricated as Christians standing with fundamentalist leaders and so on. He also shared that the media is not willing or ready to publish the facts and details against Narendra Modi and fundamentalist forces in Gujarat.

He also said that dialogue should be on an equal footing and said that we should think twice before engaging in dialogue with fundamentalist forces. He further said that churches and theological institutions should come forward and take active part in fighting against such forces. He emphasized that we should not be concerned of the privileges and benefits that we get from the government and be scared whether we will lose them if we engage ourselves in activism against the government. He said that we should rather follow Jesus' model of taking risks for the sake of the kingdom. He also patiently answered the questions and queries raised from the students.

Dr. Evangeline Anderson Rajkumar moderated the session in her capacity as the faculty vice president of the Carey Society.

Inputs from Mr. Prashanth Babu, Carey Society Secretary.

Saturday, 13 July, 2013

Carey Society Inauguration

The inaugural meeting and General Body meeting of the Carey Society was held on July 11, 2013 at 4:00 P.M. in the Charles Ranson Hall. The meeting began with instrumental music by Mr Arvind Theodore. The opening prayer was offered by Dr. Allan Palanna. During the singing of the bajan the lamp was lit by the chief guest, the Carey Society president, student vice president and Dr. Rini Ralte. The president and principal of the UTC Dr. John Samuel Raj delivered the Presidential address. Ms. Temjenaro gave a special number on the occasion.

The chief guest for the programme was Very Rev. Dr. Cherian Thomas, Director of ECC, Bangalore. He spoke on ecumenism, ecology and interfaith relationships. He said the duty of Christians is not converting people into Christianity but  making them true to their own religions and connecting with the Christ experience. He said that our task is making true Hindus and true Muslims. The chief guest was honoured by the principal and Mrs Niruba Kamalam.  Mr. Prashanth Babu, the secretary, gave the vote of thanks and the programme came to an end with closing prayer by Rev. John Sunder.

The business meeting followed soon after the inauguration. Various programmes and activities of the Carey society were discussed in this meeting. The secretary explained his initiatives with CASA New Delhi in providing help and support for the flood victims. The secretary also said that in consultation with the field work committee, he was planning to send a group of students to Uttarakhand for exposure to the real situation.

Friday, 12 July, 2013

Bible Darshan 2014

An international conference "Bible Darshan" will be conducted by the department of Biblical Studies of the United Theological College, Bangalore from January 30 to February 1, 2014. Details of the conference are given in the blog

The theme of the conference is "Exploring New Frontiers for Post-Western Biblical Studies." The write up to the theme explains this in detail. The Bible continues to enlighten, renew and challenge individuals and communities, communicating the ‘gospel’ in diverse context (s). Glaring realities of identity, caste, poverty, plurality, and ecological issues continue to challenge, the study of the Bible in India/Asia. Biblical studies as a theological discipline, continues to evolve with positive contributions from the West. However, there is a need to move beyond the enlightenment framework, to rediscover cultural, religious and indigenous resources, which can make the Bible intelligible in our contexts, because they are closer to the Mediterranean world. Further, the need for an inter-disciplinary approach is significant than ever before, which can draw us closer to our cultural and religious heritage. The conference is an attempt to challenge biblical scholars in India and in the West to engage with one another, share insights with each other and evolve new frontiers for further research in India/ Asia, thereby creating a new identity for biblical studies in the country.

While the core areas of biblical studies are still pertinent, the conference aims to draw attention to the significance of the Bible to our own times and context(s). The presentations are intended to cover the Old Testament, New Testament and the Intertestamental literature, with enough space for engagement together and separately. Presentations may focus any one or more of the areas mentioned:
a)      Old Testament Hermeneutics
b)      Study of Judaism and Religions of the Ancient Near East (ANE)
c)      History of Israel
d)     God and the Nations
e)      Old Testament  and the study of other faiths
f)       New Testament Hermeneutics
g)      Judaism and the religions of the first century CE
h)      Construction of the History of the early church
i)        Pauline Studies/Gospel Studies
j)        New Testament and the study of other faiths

Wednesday, 10 July, 2013

UTC finance campaign in CSI Kanyakumari diocese and CSI Karnataka Central Diocese

The UTC finance campaign for the UTC Centenary Mahatma Gandhi hostel building project has been underway for two weeks in the CSI churches of the Kanyakumari diocese. For over two weeks faculty and students have been visiting several churches in the diocese, preaching in churches and talking to pastors and lay people. The moderator of the CSI and bishop of the Kanyakumari diocese, along with the pastors and committee members of various churches in the diocese have been of immense help during the campaign.

The alumni of the UTC and various pastors have been helping the college to plan and execute the visits to introduce the activities of the college and present the importance and urgency of the hostel building project. It also gave an opportunity to the faculty members and students to talk and work together with the alumni of the college who are doing very impressive work in their assigned churches.

The covers of the college were distributed early among the church members one or two weeks ago. Faculty members and students preached in various churches and collected money and covers from the churches. Some church committees also promised to allot a certain amount of money to the building fund. More churches are hoped to be covered in the coming weeks.

The finance campaign in the CSI churches of the Karnataka Central diocese has also started and several faculty members will be preaching in different churches of Bangalore this Sunday. We appeal to the alumni and friends of the college to inform the college of possibilities of such visits in your own dioceses.

Theological Sunday in Karnataka Central Diocese

Progress of the UTC Centenary Mahatma Gandhi Hostel
(Pictures courtesy Utc Bangalore facebook page)

Tuesday, 2 July, 2013

Mar Chrysostom honoured by UTC

H.G. Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the longest living alumnus of the UTC was honoured in a function held in the Charles Ranson hall at the United Theological College yesterday evening at 6:00 P.M. Bishop Chrysostom now 96 years old is celebrating the 60 th year of his bishopric. His alma mater UTC joined in the celebration by honouring him with a special programme called "An evening with Mar Chrysostom".

The meeting was chaired by Rev. Dr. K.C. Abraham, the former director of SATHRI (South Asia Theological Research Institute). The principal of UTC, Rev. Dr. John Samuel Raj, the director of CISRS (The Centre for the study of Religion and Society) Rev. Dr. Vincent Rajkumar, the faculty representative, Rev. Dr. Gudrun Lowner and the president of the UTCSA (The United Theological College Student's Association) Rev. Dinesh spoke on the occassion.

Bishop Chrysostom planting a sapling

The programme started with Bishop Chrysostom planting a sapling in the UTC lawn. He was then escorted to the stage along with all the dignitaries. Faculty, staff and students from UTC and various priests and people from various churches in Bangalore attended the function. As the opening bhajan was sung, six lighted candles were brought to the stage by Dr. Nalini Arles with people representing senior staff, maintainence, students, student spouses and children. The six candles represented sixty years of Mar Chrysostom as bishop and wished long life for him.

The principal of the UTC called Bishop Chrysostom a well known and popular bishop and one of the most esteemed alumnus' of the college. Dr. K.C. Abraham talked on how a theologian should be a good communicator and without that will not make any sense to the people. He continued by saying that Bishop Chrysostom had the gift to communicate in a simple way which made sense to a lot of people who listened to him. Rev. Vincent Rajkumar said that Bishop Chrysostom is a legend and someone who all looked up to. His reaching out to other communities was a highlight of his ministry which was indeed something everyone could emulate. Dr. Gudrun called Bishop Chrysostom as someone who was now also the topic of research at the BD and Masters level in theology. His simplicity is something which struck her when they met. Rev. Dinesh talked about the bishop from the perspective of a student and from the point of view of someone who has read about Mor Chrysostom but has never seen him. The meeting was interspersed with laughter by the crowd present as everyone referred to the bishop's sense of humour as well.

Bishop Chrysostom in his reply speech said that theology cannot be learnt but has to be lived and experienced. He said that other religions did not have a problem with Christianity but with our interpretation of Christianity and Christ. He further said that we should not be bothered about whether we live or die because in both cases we are with God. He talked about preaching and practising God and said that practising is more important than just empty words. The evening with the bishop also had prayer by Dr. Evangeline Anderson Rajkumar and Dr. Jesurathnam. Bishop Chrysostom was presented a memento on behalf of the college by Dr. Jones Muthunayagom.