Submitted by John Kahler
The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian has been named dean of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, succeeding the Rev. Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar, who will continue to teach at the seminary as the Luther D. Reed Professor of Systematic Theology.
Sebastian, 53, will assume the post on July 1 at the Mt. Airy seminary where he has been a member of the faculty since 2007. He is the H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures, director of the seminary’s Multicultural Mission Resource Center and, since 2009, seminary chaplain.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bangalore (India) University, a Bachelor of Divinity degree from United Theological College in Bangalore, a Master of Theology Degree from the Federated Faculty for Research in Religion and Culture, Kottayam, India, and a Doctor of Theology degree from the University of Hamburg, Germany.
Before coming to LTSP, Sebastian taught at the United Theological College, where he was professor of theology and ethics and chair of the department. He also was dean of the school’s doctoral division, secretary of its governing council and editor of the Bangalore Theological Forum.
At LTSP he teaches a wide variety of courses that include the history of Christianity, global Christianity, religious toleration and public theology.
In1985 Sebastian became an ordained pastor of the Church of South India, which was established in 1947 by a union of Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational traditions. He said his pastoral ministry experiences in India have had a major influence on his teaching.
“My first posting was to a remote and rural area with five congregations that brought me back to earth and grounded me in the life of the people,” Sebastian said. “These people embodied for me and taught me what ministry is. Today I teach about these people and draw from my experiences with them. I have never been able to get away from them, and I don’t want to.
During a subsequent posting to a large urban church, Sebastian and his wife, Mrinalini, would ride a Moped each evening through chaotic Bangalore traffic to visit some of the 750 families they served.
The couple, who live on the seminary campus, have two adult children: Neeraj, 22, who is engaged in cell biology research, and Saagarika, 18, who will begin studies in mechanical engineering this fall at the University of Pennsylvania.