Chilkuri Vasantha Rao (born 22 December 1962) is an Indian Theologian.
In 2009, the Board of Governors of the ecumenical Andhra Christian Theological College, resolved to appoint him as Principal of the College for the term 2010-2014 representing the Church of South India.
Prof. Rao was Senior Visiting Scholar for 2008-2009 at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ch. Vasantha Rao was born to Smt. Chilkuri Vajramma and Sri Chilkuri Samuel. He completed schooling at Saint Patrick's High School, Secunderabad by 1978 and joined the Andhra Vidyalaya College, Hyderabad for pre-university studies. For graduate studies, he enrolled at the Nizam College, Hyderabad and pursued a degree in Commerce. By 1983, he was awarded a B.Com. by the Osmania University.
Vasantha Rao was inclined to pursue the priestly vocation and was admitted as a ministerial candidate in the Diocese of Medak of the Church of South India in Tonigandla Village under the Ramayampet Pastorate of the diocese under the able supervision of Rev. B. C. Devavaram. During the academic year 1984-1985, the Diocese of Medak sent Vasantha Rao to the United Theological College, Bengaluru then headed by the Biblical Scholar E. C. John. By the year 1988, Vasantha Rao obtained a B. D. from the College and was also awarded the Senators Prize for Autonomous Colleges under the for the highest proficiency in the B. D. examinations of 1988. The then President of the Senate, Dr. Jacob Verghis handed over the prize in the convocation of 1989.
Rao was then assigned a ministerial role in his Diocese. He was posted to Mandamarri-Ramakrishnapur pastorate near Mancherial in Adilabad district and served there until 1990. Thereafter, he was transferred to Bellampalli Pastorate of the Diocese of Medak in Adilabad district.
With interest to pursue higher studies in theology, the Diocese of Medak sent him again to the United Theological College, Bengaluru in the year 1993 for post-graduate studies . His supervisor there was James Vijayakumar, then Lecturer of Old Testament at the seminary in Bengaluru. In the year 1995, Vasantha Rao obtained an M. Th. in the discipline of Old Testament and returned to his Diocese which posted him to Nizamabad district for pastoral work.
In the year 1996, the ecumenical Andhra Christian Theological College, Hyderabad invited Vasantha Rao to be on its faculty. The Diocese of Medak then under the leadership of Bishop B. P. Sugandhar loaned his services to the Andhra Christian Theological College which was then headed by R. Yesurathnam.
Vasantha Rao, as a Pastor while in Bellampalli, was on the 30-member specialists panel of the Telugu Old Testament Common Language Translation of the Bible Society of India Andhra Pradesh Auxiliary headed by the Old Testament Scholar Victor Premasagar.
Pastor Vasantha Rao's thesis submitted to the in 1988 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the B. D. degree was entitled "A phenomenological study of the role of Edu-Payala Jathara in the religious life of its participants and its impact on the Christhu-Punaruddhana Jathara of Medak Diocese of Church of South India". The thesis was undertaken under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Eric J. Lott, then Professor of Religions at the United Theological College, Bengaluru. The methods of inculturation learnt from his Professor kept Vasantha Rao going. As a Pastor, he adopted indigenous methods in worship practices including bhajan and Dalit drums. Although the Diocese of Medak was predominantly British Wesleyan, Vasantha Rao carried on with indigenization wherever he served as Presbyter.
Old Testament forms part of the core subjects in any seminary or theological faculty of a University. Vasantha Rao chose Old Testament at the post-graduate level at the seminary in Bengaluru and studied Old Testament under learned Professors including Theodore N. Swanson, Gnana Robinson, James Vijayakumar and D. Jones Muthunayagom. From the academic year 1996-1997 onwards, he began teaching at the Serampore-affiliated Andhra Christian Theological College, Hyderabad.
Vasantha Rao is on the Working and Academic Committees of the Henry Martyn Institute International Centre for Research, Interfaith Relations and Reconciliation, Hyderabad. He also is a member of the Management Board of Sattal Christian Ashram established in 1930 by E. Stanley Jones in Uttaranchal.
In December 2008, Rao was elected to the Executive Committee of the Society for Biblical Studies in India at its biennium held in Thiruvananthapuram.
Vasantha Rao's post-graduate thesis was on preservation and continuation of life and species on planet Earth which was later published in 1996 in which the Biblical Scholar Victor Premasagar wrote the foreword: