MAR THOMA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, KOTTAYAM
A Theological Seminary for the training of the clergy in the ancient Church of Malabar, founded according to tradition by St. Thomas the Apostle, was established in the year 1813 at Kottayam. It was done with the assistance of the 'Mission of help' sent by the Church of England at the request of the Metropolitan of that time. The Rev. Joseph Fenn, a member of the 'Mission of help', served as the first Principal of the Theological Seminary.
A great religious awakening in the Church was inspired by the Seminary in the course of the 19th century. The pioneers of this movement were two professors of the Seminary, the Rev. Abraham Malpan of Maramon and the Rev. Geevarghese Malpan of Kottayam. As a result of internal dissensions in the wake of the new movement in the Church, the Seminary ceased to function for the time being. During this period, the leaders of the reform movement kept alive in the Church the new theological and religious insights. As a result, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church developed a distinct identity of its own, and kept alive the pristine faith of the fathers.
A fresh start was made by the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in theological education in 1926 by establishing the Mar Thoma Vaideeka Seminary at the Sion Hill in Kottayam. The Seminary was established as the Episcopal Silver Jubilee memorial of His Grace Titus II Mar Thoma Metropolitan. Mr. K. K. Kuruvilla was its first Principal. From its inception the Seminary has been affiliated to the theological University at Serampore. Initially the courses of study were designed to meet the requirements of the diploma of Licentiate in Theology (L.Th). In 1970 the Seminary was upgraded for offering courses for the degree of Bachelor of theology (B.Th). The Seminary was further upgraded in 1974 to the level of the degree of Bachelor of Divinity (B.D). In 1980 the Seminary was further upgraded to a post-graduate College, offering M.Th courses in the field of Old Testament, New Testament, Christian Theology and History of Christianity in co-operation with the Orthodox Theological Seminary and the Kerala United Theological Seminary. This joint venture is known by the name Federated Faculty for Research in Religion and Culture (FFRRC). The FFRRC is now recognised as one of the four doctoral centres of the Senate of Serampore and several research scholars are doing research in various disciplines. For post-graduate courses eligible candidates including women candidates, irrespective of their church affiliation, are admitted.
The Seminary and its properties, moveable and immoveable, are owned and governed by the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
Subject to the direction and control of the Mar Thoma Church the administration of the Seminary is vested in a Governing Board.
- To impart biblical, theological, liturgical and pastoral training, ordinarily to candidates for the Ministry in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church and to candidates from Churches in communion with her.
- To provide special training to candidates deputed by the Episcopal Synod as provided in the Church's Constitution - Chapter IV, Clause 38
- To provide special courses of study and training to clergy and laity, and to grant certificates and diplomas to those who complete such courses.
- To conduct refresher courses, seminars and special lectures in religious, social and theological subjects for the ordinands, clergy and laity.
- To undertake projects for the promotion of research in theological, ecumenical and allied subjects
- To publish journals, periodicals and books relating to theological and religious subjects
- Bachelor of Divinity (B.D) (4 years course)
- Master of Theology (M.Th) in O.T., N.T., Theology, History of Christianity and Religions (2 years)
- Doctor of Theology (D.Th) in O.T., N.T., Theology and History of Christianity (2 years)
- Non-degree special courses
The Seminary follows the curriculam of the Senate of Serampore College (University)
MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION
The medium of instruction is English
ADMISSION OF STUDENTS
The selection of candidtes belonging to the Mar Thoma Church is done by the Vaidika Selection Committee. The minimum qualification for admission is graduation from any University approved by the Episcopal Synod. Women students can be admitted to the Seminary as per the guidelines laid by the Sabha Council.
The Principal is ordinarily an ordained Minister of the Mar Thoma Church appointed by the Episcopal Synod in consultation with the Sabha Council. The Principal is responsible for the general administration of the Seminary, which includes all aspects of the Seminary life.
There Faculty of the Seminary is consisted of all full-time members of the teaching staff. Members of the Teaching Staff are appointed by the Sabha Council, in consultation with the Episcopal Synod.
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES
The library has a reading room with about 100 seats and well-arranged stacks. There is a good collection of books numbering about 20,000 volumes besides reference books, magazines, and periodicals.
An Archives is being developed as part of the Library. The archival materials are now kept in the "M.C. Varughese Memorial Archives and Museum". The Archives has over 1000 books in it besides other manuscripts and important documents related with the Mar Thoma Church. It is particularly strong on the documents relating to the history of Christianity in Kerala (Malabar).
C.P.MATHEW MEMORIAL ECUMENICAL STUDY CENTRE
The C.P.Mathew Ecumenical Study Centre situated at the first floor of the Seminary Library adds another dimension to the academic excellence and ecumenical perspective of the Seminary. Subject to the control of the Sabha Council, the Governing Board of the Seminary is responsible for the administration of the C.P.Mathew Memorial Ecumenical Study Centre.
A plot of about 15 acres was purchased at Karukachal, a small town about 20 k.m south-west of Kottayam. A master-plan is being prepared for the development of the Campus and the necessary funds also needs to be raised urgently.