Last Updated: 01 September 2016
It was at the second meeting of the All India Lutheran Conference held in 1912 that efforts were initiated to establish a higher standard theological institution to train pastors and other Church workers for serving in all the Lutheran Churches in India. This project, however, could not be pursued due to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. In 1923, the then secretary of the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC) attended the first meeting of the Lutheran World Convocation held at Eisenach, and stressed the urgent need for establishing the proposed Lutheran Theological College in Madras (now known as Chennai). The same need was presented to the Mission Supporters in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the United States of America. In July 1927, the first step was taken to establish a Lutheran Theological College in Madras for the Tamil area. In the mean time, the Federation of Lutheran Churches in India (FELC - now known as the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India) was formed in 1925. The Leipzig Mission offered its Kilpauk property in Madras to run a Seminary as a common Theological School to serve all the Lutheran Churches in India. Accordingly, in July 1953, Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute was established in Madras to impart higher theological education for the efficient training of ministers, teachers, and other Christian leaders for the Christian churches. It was registered under the Society Registration Act of 1860 on 18 June 1962 to function as a full-fledged theological institution, and thereafter affiliated with the Senate of Serampore College (University), Serampore, West Bengal.
Later, in response to strengthen ecumenical relations, and in order to make Gurukul a Centre for praxis-oriented continuing theological education programmes, the academic programmes of Gurukul were transferred to the United Theological College, Bangalore and Serampore College, Serampore, in the year 1971. However, later having felt the need for new directions to make theological education in India more relevant, Gurukul was revived in 1985. Realising the distinctive role Gurukul could play in this regard, Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.), Master of Theology (MTh.) and the Doctoral of Theology (D.Th.) programmes were initiated respectively in 1985, 1989 and 1998, with an overall thrust to impart “ABold Theological Vision” in theological education in India.
It is significant to note that the word “Gurukul” is Indian. It is a Sanskrit word, 'guru' (teacher) 'kulam' (family). That is, in the Vedic system of education, the students used to live with the teacher as a family to learn and seek knowledge from the Guru. This intimate relationship between the teacher and the student is a strong feature of Gurukul even today.
Gurukul Lutheran Theological College is governed by the Gurukul College Council (GCC), which consists of members from all the constituent churches of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India, and the ecumenical churches such as the Church of South India (CSI), Church of North India (CNI) and the Mar Thoma Church. The Gurukul College Council meets annually to offer directions and to revise policies from time to time for the smooth functioning of the College. The Executive Committee of the Gurukul College Council, appointed by the Gurukul College Council, meets at regular intervals to take decisions that strengthen the day-to-day functioning of Gurukul. The Principal looks after the academic administration of the college implementing the overall programmes in line with the rules and regulations of the Senate of Serampore College and the continuing theological education programmes of Applied Theology to cater the needs of the churches. The Treasurer appointed by the Gurukul College Council looks into the financial management of the College.
Gurukul offers Graduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral Research programmes recognised by the Senate of Serampore College. The Bachelor of Divinity (BD) degree course which is of four-year duration tries to integrate courses that are stipulated by the Senate of Serampore College and other special courses that reflect the nature of the 'Bold Theological Vision' of Gurukul in order to make the study of theology holistic and contextual. The Master of Theology degree course is of two-year duration, and in the current academic session Gurukul is offering M.Th. studies in the disciplines of Christian Theology, History of Christianity, and Missiology. The Doctor of Theology (D.Th.) which is a compulsory three-year residential programme is oriented towards research. At present, the Doctoral candidates are pursuing their research in the Departments of Christian Theology, Religion, Communication Studies and Missiology at Gurukul.