Posted on March 4, 2024 IM South India Alumna, Lucile E. Swetland Carman, Called Home
IM South India Alumna, Lucile E. Swetland Carman

Lucile Evelyn Swetland Carman passed away at Walker Methodist Place in Minneapolis, MN of Alzheimer’s dementia on January 23, 2024 at the age of 92. She was born on May 3, 1931, in Schenectady, New York to Rupert and Elizabeth (Speakman) Swetland. Later two younger sisters, Alice and Pauline joined the family.

IM South India Alumna, Lucile E. Swetland Carman, Called HomeLucile (Lu) was brought up in a happy home by Christian parents. Both parents were musical and passed on some of their ability and much of their interest in music to Lu and her sisters. The family lived in Schenectady until 1948 and during that time Lu was very involved in the church. Lu joined the church when she was in sixth grade, and willingly accepted Christ. She participated in choir and youth activities. She later wrote, “…I grew into a feeling of at-homeness in the Christian church which has never left me.”

In 1948, Lu entered Bucknell University and graduated in 1952 with a major in social science and minor in elementary education. She was an active member and officer in the campus Student Christian Association and attended the annual Religion-in-Life weeks on campus that presented opportunities to hear outstanding religious leaders. In 1951, Lu attended the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) Quadrennial in Kansas. She left inspired and thrilled by the diversity within the church and the amazing unity in Christ among all. While there, Lu wholeheartedly committed to the SVM declaration that it was “her purpose to serve Christ in the world mission of His Church, and to this end prayerfully to choose my life work.”

Lu was also active in campus NAACP and Fellowship of Reconciliation groups. Because of the associations and discussions in these groups, and what she had come to believe was her Christian obligation in witnessing to man’s brotherhood in Christ, she became one of Bucknell’s first two exchange students at Hampton Institute, in Virginia She studied there for a semester in the fall of 1951.

In 1951, Lu had begun to think seriously about full time missionary service and had made preliminary inquiries about a short-term, three-year missionary program. Later that year, Lu and Bob Carman, a classmate and son of Baptist missionaries John and Naomi Carman of Vellore, India were engaged to be married.

Lu and Bob married on August 30, 1953. From then until 1958 Lu worked as a children’s librarian in the Rochester Public Library. During this time their first two children were born and Lu worked towards her Masters in Library Education which she received in 1961 from SUNY-Geneseo.

In 1961 the family moved to the Twin Cities where Bob completed his medical training at the University of Minnesota Hospitals. They joined the University Baptist Church in Minneapolis, where they became a part of a small regular Bible study group which they found to be spiritually enriching. 2

Lu and Bob were appointed by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) / International Ministries (IM) on May 10, 1963 to serve in South India where Bob was assigned to the faculty of the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore. Lu and Bob served for 31 years as American Baptist missionaries in India.

While in India, Lu established the libraries at Vidyalayam and the Christian Counseling Center. She was a consultant for both the College of Nursing library at CMC & H and for the Scheiffelin Leprosy Research and Training Center Library, at Karigiri, 15 kilometers away from Vellore. She was acting head of the Nursing library for one year. She also worked for the CMC Promotion Board writing for CMC’s Person-to-Person Program, to encourage donations to the institution. She was president of the church Women’s Fellowship and chairman of the Fellowship’s project of recycling and selling greeting cards which completely supported a nursery school feeding program for slum children. She was also on the Pastorate Committee of the Church and one of several pastoral visitors for the church. While serving in Vellore, she was active in the Women’s Society of St. John Church. She was a welcoming, caring and consummate hostess, caring for many visitors.

Lu and Bob were the last IM missionaries serving in Christian Medical College, Vellore, India. When they moved to the U.S. Bob became the Director of the Vellore Board (now Foundation). Lu continued to establish and maintain libraries and archives throughout her life. She enjoyed singing soprano in church choirs, felt passionately about peace, justice, and the environment and became very involved in mental health concerns after her youngest child died battling Schizophrenia. She met challenges with resiliency, optimism, faith, and love.

She was preceded in death by her parents Rupert and Elizabeth; her sister, Pauline Hutchinson; and two of her children, Jim Carman, and Paul Carman.

Lu is survived by her husband of 70 years, Bob; her sister, Alice (Jim) Keighton; her other two children, Chuck (Susy) Carman and Betsy (David) Perkins; daughter-in-law, Karen Fassett-Carman; eight grandchildren and their spouses/partners; and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on March 23, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. at University Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. Memorial gifts can be sent to the Vellore Christian Medical College Foundation, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 725, New York, NY 10115. Cards may be sent to Robert Carman, 3701 Bryant Ave S., Apt 201, Minneapolis, MN 55409.