Plymouth UCC in Lawrence, KS Travels to India

Plymouth UCC in Lawrence, KS Travels to India

On January 4, a group from Plymouth UCC in Lawrence, KS will be heading to India.  We will stay for three weeks, traveling through the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  The group is, of course, excited to be going, and looks forward to sharing their experiences and adventures with the greater UCC and Disciples church through this blog: Please check in and read often.  And please keep us in your prayers.

This trip was conceived by Rev. Dr. Peter Luckey, who spent five weeks in India in 2008, as a part of his sabbatical.  While in India, he was the guest of the Church of South India, visiting mission sites and praying with Indian Christians.   His experience sent him home with new eyes and a deeper spiritual life.  His congregation noticed the change in him immediately.  His preaching had new fire and his love of the church new depths.  Rev. Luckey wanted people in his congregation to experience what he had experienced.  A plan for a mission trip to India was born.

The group traveling to India will follow in Peter’s footsteps, staying as guests of the Madhya Kerala Diocese of the Church of South India, as well as the Family Village Farm (a UCC sponsored orphanage outside of Chennai, India).  We see the spending of time with our brothers and sisters in the overseas mission as a beautiful and expansive way to build community and acquire new understandings of how God works in the world.  Our greatest hope is that by building international relationships, we will work to spread the movement of peace in the world.

We have also set aside time for fun and sightseeing.  We plan to take a boat ride through Kerala’s backwaters, visit temples and go up into the mountains. 

Here’s the people going on the trip.  It is an intergenerational group – three retired persons, three 20-somethings, and two in the middle.  Plymouth UCC sees itself as a calling church and helped fund the trip for its younger participants. 

  • Rev Dr. Peter Luckey, Senior Pastor for 16 years of Plymouth UCC in Lawrence, KS, who in 2008 spent five weeks in India in Kerala and Tamil Nadu as part of his Lilly funded sabbatical experience.
  • Heather Coates, Director of Christian Education. Heather is beginning the process of discerning a call to ordination in the UCC. She has a long time interest in India where she has traveled previously. She will be helping to bridge a connection between the children of Plymouth and the children in India.
  • Karen Vespestad is a long-time Plymouth member and recently retired school district administrator, working with educational programs and grant procurement. Karen helped host Vatsala Vijayakumar, principal of the King’s Matriculation School, during Vatsala’s stay at Plymouth in May of 2009.
  • Laura Munson is Karen’s sister who hails from Arizona. She is a registered dietician and works as the Director of Nutrition Services at Ho Ho Kam Memorial Hospital on the Gila River Indian Community in Sacaton, Arizona. She is an active member of Shadow Rock UCC in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Marguerite Carlson is a long time UCC member and avid traveler. Marguerite has served in many leadership positions at Plymouth and on the Stewardship Council of the national UCC. Marguerite was married to the late Rev. Robert Carlson who served many UCC congregations.
  • Laura Murphy is a PhD student in Archaeology at the University of Kansas. Laura has a deep interest in travel and understanding different cultures around the world. Laura joined Plymouth in 2009.
  • Sarah Oatsvall teaches K-8 general music, choir and band at a Lutheran grade school, while pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Kansas. Sara has a passion for education and is eager to have a chance to see firsthand public and private schools in India.
  • Sean Weston is a freshman at the University of Kansas majoring in Religious Studies and Spanish. Sean is active in the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, and currently serves on the Conference council. He is considering a professional path that would lead to pastoral ministry in the UCC.