It is significant to note that the word “Gurukul” is very much Indian which is derived from two Sanskrit words – ‘guru’ (teacher) and ‘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.
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 initiative, 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 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 region. Meanwhile, the Federation of Lutheran Churches in India (FELC – now known as the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India) was formed in 1925 and 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 were established to impart higher theological education for the efficient training of ministers, teachers, and other leaders for the 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 strengthening 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 (M.Th.) and Doctoral of Theology (D.Th.) programmes were initiated respectively in 1985, 1989 and 1998, with an overall thrust to impart “A Bold Theological Vision” in theological education in India.
Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute is an Organ of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) and is governed by the Gurukul College Council (GCC), which consists of members from all the constituent churches of UELCI and three ecumenical churches – the Church of South India (CSI), the Church of North India (CNI) and the Marthoma 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 appointed by the Gurukul College Council looks into the academic and administrative matters of the College. The Treasurer appointed by the Gurukul College Council looks into the overall financial management of the College.
Gurukul offers Graduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral Research programmes recognised by the Senate of Serampore College (University). The Bachelor of Divinity (BD) degree course is of four years duration with courses stipulated by the Senate of Serampore College (University) as well as other special courses offered by Gurukul reflecting the nature of the ‘Bold Theological Vision’ and in order to make the theological education holistic and contextual. The Master of Theology (M.Th.) degree course is of two years duration, and in the current academic session, Gurukul is offering M.Th. programme in the disciplines of Christian Theology, History of Christianity, Communication, 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 Religion, Communication and Missiology.
Besides the regular residential academic programmes Gurukul is offering “Bachelor of Christian Studies” (BCS) and YMCA Training Programme for YMCA secretaries.