I am continuing my series on theological training around the world and this week I am interviewing Johnson Thomaskutty of The Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.
1) Please introduce yourself and your role at The Union Biblical Seminary (UBS)
|Rev Johnson Thomaskutty, Ph.D.
I am Johnson Thomaskutty. I am the General Editor of ‘Union Biblical Seminary Journal’ (also called UBS Journal) and also Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek at the seminary.
2) Tell us a little about The Union Biblical Seminary
The story of UBS goes back to October 1938 when the first systematic Bible training school was opened by the Free Methodist Church at Yavatmal, Maharashtra, Western India, with Dr. Frank J. Kline as its first principal. In 1953 the UBS was officially constituted as a joint effort of eleven mission and church groups. The seminary was relocated in 1983 to the new campus in Pune. The campus is on a beautiful hillock, overlooking the city. We now offer BD (Bachelor of Divinity), MTh (Master of Theology in OT, NT, Theology, Missions, Christian Ministry), and DTh (Doctor of Theology), with affiliation from the Senate of Serampore University (SSU). All these programs are in English. We offer BBS (Bachelor of Biblical Studies) and MDiv (Master of Theology) in English, Hindi, and Marathi languages, with accreditation from Asia Theological Association (ATA). We also offer courses on women studies and children ministry. Our training is bible-centered, evangelical, and interdenominational with emphasis on the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural aspects of South Asian context. The total number of students is almost 1,200. For more details, visit the website here.
3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?
While all the Senate of Serampore University programs are residential and full-time, the Asia Theological Association programs are part-time.
4) How do The Union Biblical Seminary students fund their studies?
Mostly the students are supported by the denominational churches, mission organisations, and funding agencies.
5) Does The Union Biblical Seminary take students from overseas?
Yes, we have a tradition of taking students from Bangladesh, Nepal, Korea, and other Asian nations. At the same time we are open to have students from other parts of the world. Our faculty representation from different Asian countries, America and Europe might help us to accommodate students from any parts of the world.
6) What type of ministry is The Union Biblical Seminary intended to prepare students for?
UBS trains future pastors for different denominational churches, academicians for theological institutions, mission leaders and office bearers for NGOs and other organizations, and through our extension programs a large number of lay leaders in India and overseas.
7) When students leave The Union Biblical Seminary what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.
The students who are trained in the residential sessions usually go for full-time pastoral, mission, and ministerial and cross-cultural engagements, academic and leadership positions, pioneering and church planting ministries, slum and urban missions, bible translation, and the like. But those trained through the extension department are divided into two categories: first, those who choose to do full-time pastoral engagement; and second, those who stay in their secular professions and serve the humanity in different capacities as servant-leaders.
8) What is distinctive about what The Union Biblical Seminary offers compared with other colleges in India and overseas?
UBS is one of the leading evangelical theological institutions in South Asia. The motto of the seminary, i.e., “Committed to wholistic training of servant-leaders and scholar-saints for a biblio-centric ministry in a contemporary world”, speaks about its three-fold (i.e., biblical, spiritual, and practical) ministerial commitment. The UBS is unique in the sense that it represents evangelical Christians from almost all the major Indian ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups as well as from other countries. The dynamic principle of ‘unity in diversity’ finds expression in everyday experience based on the solid foundation of the person of Jesus Christ, to whom every member of the UBS family is committed. The vision of UBS from its founding is the fulfilling of the Great Commission in the contemporary socio-economic, cultural and religious context of India. This involves training committed men and women to become more effective ministers and mission leaders who will facilitate the Indian Church in fulfilling its calling. In other words, the Seminary sees itself as the handmaid of the Indian Church, and this self-understanding is reflected in all it seeks to do.
9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.
We have one of the best theological libraries in South Asia, especially in India, with many of the modern research facilities. We have recently started a research and resource centre in addition to the old facilities.
10) Does The Union Biblical Seminary offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.
We seriously think of starting on-line courses in the immediate future. But our extension department is widely spread in India, other Asian countries, Middle East, Europe, and United States of America.
My thanks to Dr Thomaskutty for his fascinating contribution to the series. You can read more about Johnson’s work on this blog, which you will find here.