One hundred years of theology
BANGALORE: Here, the Syrian Orthodox from Kerala and the Presbyterian from the North East sit in a single prayer room. They learn to pray the Pentecostal way and appreciate feminist theories. The United Theological College in Bangalore has been moulding people in this manner for social and church services for the past 100 years now.
The largest theological college in India, and the oldest in Karnataka, is currently in its centenary year. The institution was started on July 8, 1910, by missionaries from different denominations who wanted a common training centre. The ecumenical college has students from CSI, CNI, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Marthoma, Orthodox and Jacobite sects. It also had a Ceylon church during British rule. The college was started with eight students and a couple of teachers on Mission Road.
The college now runs on an eight-acre campus with 180 students (20% women) and 25 teachers, all of whom reside on campus. It has a library, with 80,000 volumes of books, and a large palm-leaf collection. It was honoured by the US embassy's department of cultural preservation last year with $ 35,000. "People from across the country come here for references. The doctoral centre of Senate of Serampur, the oldest theological college in India, is in UTC, Bangalore," principal, Joseph George told TOI.
UTC has interesting stories to narrate from its history. The college had to be vacated from its current campus during World War II to accommodate the British army. It could be shifted back only after the war was over. Having survived such trials, the college has produced at least 70% of the bishops in the state today.
The college provides a four-year undergraduate programme, two years of post graduation, and doctorate courses in English medium. It also trains administrators for YMCA in exchange for physical education training for its students. Other diploma courses such as counselling are mostly in demand among women. A course in women studies is also on the cards from September.