At the start of the eighteenth century Lutheranism left Europe for the first time. Pietists from Halle played a decisive role in its overseas dissemination and thus, two centuries after the Reformation, fulfilled one of Martin Luther’s important goals.
In 1706, with little luggage and medication only for the most common diseases, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1682–1719) boarded a ship in London. Together with his colleague Heinrich Plütschau (1677–1752) he set off for Tranquebar on the South Indian coast. They carried with them a letter written by the Danish king Fredrick IV. He had dispatched the two theologians, who were pupils of Francke, to establish a mission station within the Danish trading colony.
Jasmin Eppert checked in her luggage for Tranquebar 310 years later. On behalf of the Francke Foundations, the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC), and the missionary societies of Leipzig and Hermannsburg, she will establish a museum dedicated to the history of the intercultural dialogue between India and Europe during the next three years. This dialogue began with Ziegenbalg’s and Plütschau’s arrival more than three centuries ago. The premises are to be renovated in cooperation with local partners.
|Step by Step towards a vibrant Museum|
"Since 125 days, I am back in India as an employee of the Evangelical Lutheran Missionary Work in Lower Saxony (ELM). I can finally report on the ceremonial inauguration, the start of the construction work, and the energetic progress of our project on the Ziegenbalg residence in the South Indian town of Tharangambadi" (Jasmin Eppert, August 2016).
Like the missionaries of the Danish-Halle Mission, Jasmin Eppert keeps those at home informed by means of regular letters describing the progress of the construction project (Cicular of August 2016(PDF, 1,3 MB) in german) and her life in South India (Cicular of September 2016(PDF, 1,0 MB) in german). Ever since her festive send-off on 20 March 2016 a lot has happened:
◊ 28 March 2016 – Festive Send-off
Jasmin Eppert was ceremoniously sent to Tranquebar. The send-off service during the 2016 Francke Celebration was held at the Marktkirche in Halle. Professor Helmut Obst, Eckard Warner, the Foundations’s priest, Pastor Michael Thiel, the Director of the Hermannsburger Mission, and Pastor Hans-Georg Tannhäuser, the Acting Director of the Leipziger Mission, presented Jasmin Eppert with their blessings for the journey – the first ceremony of this kind to take place in more than 200 years.
◊ 5 April 2016 – Landing Day
The project coordinator arrives in Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, with a suitcase weighing about 30 kg, a handbag and a saxophone. The reception is cordial and the talks with the Bishop of the TELC and with church leaders promise confidence in the initial steps towards a concrete implementation of the project.
◊ 30 April 2016 – Signing the Contract
The partnership between the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC) and the Heritage Curators of the Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), an NGO active in the field of cultural monument preservation, has been signed. The construction project at Ziegenbalg’s former residence can now be realised.
◊ 9 July 2016 – The Construction Project is launched
In Tranquebar, 310 years after Ziegenbalg’s and Plütschau’s arrival, Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller-Bahlke together with representatives of the TELC solemnly committed to start the renovation of Ziegenbalg’s former residence. The official beginning of the project was celebrated with a procession through the village in honour of the missionaries. It comprised around 250 pupils, teachers, priests, and guests from far and near.
◊ 25 July 2016 – Start of the Construction Work
The partners of INTACH regulate the proper procedure at the renovation site. The planned restoration measures are to be implemented within about nine months and in four stages.
◊ 19 September 2016 – Opening of the Information Centre
The information centre located at Dorothea Ziegenbalg’s former residence has been completed to such an extent that interested visitors can be educated about the ongoing renovation, the history of the cultural dialogue between Europe and India, and the history of the manual printing industry in India.
Film Project Accompanying the Renovation
En route between Burgkirchen, Halle and Tranquebar the documentary filmmaker and photographer Heiner Heine captures the major steps of the museum project. In the course of the three-year project he will document with his camera the renovation as well as Jasmin Eppert’s work. During his first journey in June and July 2016, interviews were conducted with friends and supporters of the project. This first film offers impressions from the site of the former mission station: