Asian Theological Summer Institute

Asian Theological Summer Institute 2023

May 30-June 3, 2023
Philadelphia campus of ULS

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About the Institute

The Asian Theological Summer Institute is a project of United Lutheran Seminary. Held on the the Seminary’s Philadelphia campus, it seeks to identify and encourage Asians/Asian Americans who are focused on theological education at the PhD and ThD level. The Institute functions as a doctoral seminar to test doctoral proposals/projects in the company of guest professors and scholars serving as mentors. This is unique in that it offers an Asian thematic focus for students who otherwise may not have the help and support of an Asian professor/faculty in their place of study. This project promotes enhanced cultural awareness.

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2023 Faculty

Dr. Nami Kim

Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh

Wonhee Anne Joh is Harry R. Kendall Professor of Christian Theology and Postcolonial Studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She also serves as the Director of Doctoral Studies Program at Garrett as well as Faculty Affiliate in the Departments of Religious Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. Her current research is at the intersection of trauma and affect studies, de/colonization, and militarism. She links her theoretical commitment to the intimacies of transpacific and internationalist feminist liberation movements. In addition to numerous articles and chapter contributions, her publications include, Heart of the Cross: A Postcolonial Christology and has coedited both Critical Theology Against US Militarism in Asia: Decolonization and Deimperialization, and Feminist Praxis Against US Militarism. Forthcoming from Fordham University Press is Trauma, Affect and Race.

Dr. Kwok Pui Lan

Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theology at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta GA. Dr. Kwok was the 2011 President of the American Academy of Religion. She has published extensively in Asian feminist theology, biblical interpretation, and postcolonial criticism. An internationally known theologian, she received her doctorate from Harvard University. Dr. Kwok’s publications include Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology; Introducing Asian Feminist Theology; and Discovering the Bible in the Non-Biblical World. She is the editor of a major reference work Women and Christianity in 4 volumes. Dr. Kwok is also the coeditor of Off the Menu: Asian and Asian North American Women’s Religion and Theology and Postcolonial Practice of Ministry: Leadership, Liturgy, and Interfaith Engagement.

Dr. Tat-siong Benny Liew

Class of 1956 Professor in New Testament Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. Dr. Liew is the author of Politics of Parousia (Brill,1999), and What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics? (University of Hawaii Press, 2008). In addition, he is the editor of the Semeia volume on “The Bible in Asian America” (with Gale Yee; SBL, 2002), Postcolonial Interventions (Sheffield Phoenix, 2009), They Were All Together in One Place? (with Randall Bailey and Fernando Segovia; SBL 2009), Reading Ideologies (Sheffield Phoenix, 2011), and Psychoanalytical Mediations between Marxist and Postcolonial Readings of the Bible (with Erin Runions, SBL, 2016). Liew is also the Executive Editor of two journals, Biblical Interpretation and Research Perspectives on Biblical Interpretation (both by Brill); in addition, he is the Series Editor of Study Guides to the New Testament (Bloomsbury). Liew previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean at the Pacific School of Religion, and as a former member of the American Academy of Religion’s Board of Directors.

Rev. Dr. Boyung Lee

Rev. Dr. Boyung Lee has served as the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty since July 2017. As a feminist communitarian practical theologian, her theological and scholarly pursuit is fueled by her commitment to social justice. She works hard to embody her commitment in her leadership and pedagogical practices. Before Iliff, Rev. Dr. Lee taught for 15 years at the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, CA, where she became the first woman of color tenured faculty in 2007. Dr. Lee is also an ordained United Methodist elder who served churches in Korea and the United States. Her current research projects include co-editing a Louisville Institute grant-funded book, Embodying Anti-Racism: Asian American Christianity and Feminist Theologies; investigating “Sexual Violence in Asian American Ethnoreligious Communities,” a Religion and Sexual Abuse project of the University of California, Riverside, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. She is the immediate past president of the Religious Education Association and the incoming board chair of PANAAWTM (Pacific, Asian, North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry). She also serves as the co-chair of the Women and Religion Unit of the American Academy of Religion. Representative courses include:Women and Theologies from the Global SouthD.Min. Proposal Seminar Decolonizing Bible Studies: A Postcolonial Biblical PedagogyPostcolonial and Decolonial Feminist Theologies and Pedagogies

Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar

Luther D. Reed Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of Asian Theological Summer Institute, United Lutheran Seminary. Philadelphia PA. Dr. Rajashekar, a Lutheran Pastor from India, has been on the faculty of the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia since 1991. He is a graduate of University of Mysore, The United Theological College, Bangalore, Concordia Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, and The University of Iowa. He has previously taught at the United Theological College and served as an executive for Inter-religious Dialogue at The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, Switzerland. Besides teaching Systematic theology, his field of research and writing is in Reformation Theology, Christian ecumenism, religious pluralism, interreligious dialogue, theologies of religions, history and theology of Christian missions, and cross-cultural dialogue. He has published over a dozen books and numerous articles and essays including, most recently , Abundant Harvest: Stories of Asian Lutherans (co-edited with Edmund Yee, 2012); “Luther as a Resource for Dialogue among Religions, ”in Oxford Handbook of Martin Luther’s Theology, eds. Robert Kolb, et. al. (2014); “Our God and Their God”: A Relational Theology of Religious Plurality,” in Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves, ed. Carol Schersten LaHurd, (2016).

Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian

The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian is a Presbyter of the Church of South India and currently Dean of the Seminary and H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures at the United Lutheran Seminary.  

Before coming to the United States, he was at the United  Theological College, Bengaluru, India, where he was Professor in the Department of Theology and Ethics. He also served as Chairperson of the Department; Dean of Doctoral Studies; and Secretary of the Governing Council. He did his first professional degree at the same college after which he served rural and urban pastorates of the Karnataka Central Diocese of the Church of South India before being invited to join the faculty of the United Theological College as a Junior Lecturer in June 1988. He continued his commitment to pastoral ministry by serving as Associate Presbyter in churches where the Diocese needed him. This engagement continues in the United States through regular preaching and presiding at worship services in congregations in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond.

‍His doctorate (magna cum laude) is from the University of Hamburg, Germany, where his dissertation was entitled 'baptisma unum insancta ecclesia': A Theological Appraisal of the Baptismal Controversy in the Work and Writings of Cyprian of Carthage (1997).

He is a member of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ, and was in residence there from August 2003 to May 2004. He is also a member of the North American Patristics Society, the International Association of Patristic Studies, International Association of Mission Studies, and the American Academy of Religion. He has been the Associate Editor and now Contributing Editor of the journal, Mission Studies. He is also a member of the Global Network for Public Theology and is an Advisory Panel member of its journal, the International Journal of Public Theology. He is the Co-editor of the series, Postcolonialism and Religions, published by Springer/Palgrave Macmillan, and 16 books have already been published as part of this series (Postcolonialism and Religions | Book series home (

Research Grants

ATSI offers a limited number of research grants to participants in 2023 engaged in dissertation research.  The grant is up to $2,000 which may include travel to research sites or other forms of field research (such as visits to distant libraries or archives).  Students with adequate funding from their host schools or other grant-giving agencies are ineligible.  A recommendation letter from the host school may be required. A separate application will be provided to ATSI participants who request it following the 2023 ATSI.  The application will be evaluated by the ATSI faculty in recommending the grant based on both need and merit. Not all participants will be eligible for the grant and candidates must meet the conditions stipulated in the grant application, including a detailed account of the need.

Comments from ATSI Alums

“Wonderful opportunity. Incredibly generous program. Supportive and nurturing faculty.”
— Student, ATSI"Thank you for your wisdom and willingness to share your experience and advice to an emerging scholar! The formal and informal consultations and conversations added much depth and breadth to my perspective on how to proceed with my proposal.”
— Student, ATSI“The profound company of Asian scholars enlivened my work and spirit. I am grateful for the informal mentoring offered by faculty and participants.”
— Student, ATSI“Sometimes it’s easy to feel almost as though you have to suppress your identity, but in an informal and open setting like ATSI you find out not only what others have to offer through their experiences, but what you have to offer to others.”
— Student, ATSI