An important dialogue between the Church Leaders and the Theological Educators was taken place at the CSI Synod Centre in Chennai on the theme “THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND MINISTERIAL FORMATION” from 7th and 8th March 2017. This dialogue, which was jointly organised by the Board of Theological Education of the Senate of Serampore College (BTESSC) and the Church of South India (CSI) Synod, was inaugurated by the Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen, the Moderator of CSI. In the inaugural sermon based on the biblical passage John 4: 22-30, the Moderator told that Jesus focused on creating new relationships surpassing the boundaries. A vision for the borderless church should receive momentum from the approach of Jesus Christ to the relationships of human beings.
After the inaugural worship service, Rt. Rev. Dr. John S. Sadananda, the Master of the Serampore College, greeted the gathering of the Church leaders and theological educators across India who attended the two-day dialogue. He reminded that the theological education is an integral part of the ministry of the Church. Dr. P. Mohan Larbeer, the Secretary of BTESSC, gave the formal introduction to the programme and welcomed the gathering.
The initial session of the conference after the worship service was moderated by Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen. In the first Keynote Address on the theme ‘Significance of Theological Education in Training the Ministers of God’, Rev. Dr. Collin Cowan, the General Secretary of the Council for World Mission, stated that if the church leaders and theological leaders come together, there is no end to possibilities. Rev. Dr. Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, the General Secretary of CSI, told in the second Keynote Address with the title ‘Theological Education is the Task of the Church’ that we should have a pedagogy of hope that moves from virtual to the experiential level.
The forenoon session was closed by the prayer led by Rev. Dr. G. Augustine Jeyakumar, the Executive Secretary of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI).
In the first session in the afternoon was the response to the Keynote addresses, which was moderated by Rev. Dr. Kavito Zhimo, the President of the Senate of Serampore College. Dr. O. Thomas, Orthodox Theological College, Dr. David Rajendran, TTS, and Dr. Limala Longkumer, Bishop’s College, presented the responses.
The session on the ‘Theological Education Policy’ in which Rt. Rev. Dr. Royce Manoj Victor (CSI Bishop in Malabar Diocese), Rt. Rev. Prakash Patole (Bishop, CNI), and Dr. Botoholi (CBCC) took part was the final session on the first day. Rt. Rev. Pushpalalitha (CSI Bishop in Nandyal Diocese) offered the closing prayer.
The second day began with a special worship to celebrate the International Women’s Day and to praise God for the wonderful gift of women to the world (A detailed report is given elsewhere).
The opening session of the final day was on the theme ‘What do we expect from the Church?’, which was shared by Rev. Dr. Santanu Patro, the Registrar of the Senate of Serampore College. Rev. Dr. Sunil Caleb, the Principal of the Bishop’s College, Kolkata (Church of North India- CNI), Rev. Dr. P. G. George, the Dean of SATHRI (Marthoma), and Rev. Dr. Naveen Rao, the Principal of the Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur (Methodist) presented papers in this session, which was followed by a general discussion.
The next session on the theme, ‘What do we expect from the theological colleges?’ was chaired by Dr. Sudipta Singh, the Secretary for Research and Capacity Development of CWM. Rt. Rev. Mohan (ECI), Rt. Rev. Michael Herenz (CNI), and Rt. Rev. K. G. Daniel (CSI) presented their views in this session.
The concluding session had recommendations and discussions. Rt. Rev. Dr. John S. Sadananda was on the chair in this session and Dr. H. S. Wilson, the Executive Director of FTE, and Dr. Dieter Mitternacht of the Church of Sweden gave their responses. The conference came to a close with the prayer and benediction.