The Rev. Peter Luckey, senior pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., leaves today for a monthlong trip to India.
Luckey won a $25,000 grant from the National Clergy Renewal Program, sponsored by Lilly Endowment Inc. The endowment annually provides as many as 120 grants of up to $45,000 each directly to Christian congregations that can allow their pastors to take something equivalent to an academic sabbatical.
"The whole focus of the grant is to provide a chance for pastors to leave their work and be relieved of responsibilities for three months to have that kind of time for renewal," Luckey says.
The $25,000 pays not only for Luckey's trip, but also for Plymouth to bring in a temporary replacement. Former Plymouth associate pastor Lew Hinshaw is preaching at the church while Luckey is away.
During the trip, Luckey will be working with the Church of South India and will stay in the church's dioceses. The church has a relationship with the United Church of Christ, of which Plymouth is affiliated. The Church of South India is believed to date back to the time of St. Thomas, one of the apostles, who visited the country, Luckey says.
"We have a relationship with this church, and people from this Church of South India have come, have been in Kansas, have been in our churches," he says. "So, this is a way to reciprocate, for me to go and be visiting their churches and be preaching sermons and be in their schools."
In addition to his work with the church and in schools, Luckey also plans to visit an Indian orphan named Saranya, 18, whom the church has sponsored for 10 years.
"We've had pictures up on our icebox of Saranya for years, and now I get to go see her," he says.
The trip also fulfills a lifelong dream of Luckey's to visit the country.
"I've always wanted to go to India, ever since I was little and my dad was in India in World War II and would come back and would tell us stories about being in India," he says. "It just always intrigued me as just a fascinating place with a rich culture."
- Sarah Henning