LSTC Professors Westhelle and Vethanayagamony receive ATS Lilly Theological Research Grants May 11, 2011

Two Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) professors have received research grants from the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS). The ATS grants are funded by the Lilly Endowment. The Rev. Dr. Peter Vethanayagamony, associate professor of modern church history, and the Rev. Dr. Vítor Westhelle, professor of systematic theology, were among 22 scholars who received grants of up to $12,000 for research expenses.

How the Telugu Bible Women redefined cultural boundaries

The Rev. Dr. Peter Vethanayagamony will research how the Telugu Bible Women of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (women evangelists identical to U.S. deaconesses), reconfigured home-making and career in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. In Home-maker or Career Woman?: The Identity, Career and Contributions of the Telugu Lutheran Bible Women, Vethanayagamony will examine how the Bible women redefined marriage and redrew the boundaries between the public and the domestic spheres, adhering to some cultural norms of their time while challenging others.

Eschatology and Space

The Rev. Dr. Vítor Westhelle will do research for his latest book project with the working title Eschatology and Space: The Lost Dimension in Theology Past and Present. Using studies on space by Lefebvre, de Certeau, Foucault, and others, in the first part of the book, Westhelle will provide a theoretical frame of the notion of eschaton which connotes simultaneously the end and the limit, the ultimate and the border. The second part of the book will consider contemporary eschatological proposals by Schweitzer, C.H. Dodd, Teilhard, and others, along with challenges offered by postcolonial thinkers such as Said, Bhabha, and Spivak. The final part of the book will discuss dimensions of liminal estates that represent the boundaries or ends of our comfort zones: biological (death, infirmity), psychological (insanity), epistemological (paradigm shifts), social (class transition), ethnic (race, ethnicity), political (exile), geographical (migration), or esthetic (abhorrence). ). The book will be published by Palgrave Macmillan and is slated to be released by August of 2012 simultaneously in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Faculty biographies

Before joining the LSTC faculty in 2008, the Rev. Dr. Peter Vethanayagamony served as visiting professor at LSTC from 2006 – 2008 and taught church history and served as academic dean at Hindustan Bible Institute and College in Chennai, India. He published It Began in Madras: The Eighteenth-Century Lutheran-Anglican Ecumenical Ventures in Mission and Benjamin Schultze (New Delhi: ISPCK, 2010), based on his doctoral dissertation. Vethanyagamony served as co-editor and contributor to Mission after Christendom: Emergent Themes in Contemporary Mission, published by Westminster John Knox Press in 2010. In addition to being associate professor of modern church history, he directs the doctor of ministry program at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Vethanayagamony served as associate director of the Chicago Center for Global Ministries from 2007- 2010. He holds degrees in theology, history, and philosophy from universities in India and the United States. Vethanyagamony earned a Ph.D. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. For more information about Dr. Vethanayagamony visit

The Rev. Dr. Vítor Westhelle joined LSTC’s faculty in 1993 after teaching at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary and Escola Superior de Teologia, Brazil. He was visiting professor at the University of Natal, South Africa, and the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He is a prolific writer and speaker with an international reputation. In addition to the twelve books which he wrote or co-edited, he has published more than 150 articles. His 2006 book, The Scandalous God: The Use and Abuse of the Cross, published by Fortress Press, has been turned into a SELECT course and been studied across the church by lay people, clergy, and scholars. The book was translated to Portuguese in 2008, O Deus Escandaloso: Usos e Abusos da Cruz, and is currently being translated to Spanish by National University of Costa Rica. Westhelle’s The Church Event: Call and Challenge of a Church Protestant, was published by Fortress Press in October 2009. That same year, a collection of Westhelle’s sermons, Word in words, was published by CSS Books, India. In 2010 he published After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies (Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock publishers). Westhelle’s biography and list of works is at and his personal website,


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