Bachelor of Christian Studies Contact Seminars were held at ICSA, Egmore, from July 7 to 11, 2008. The new Dean of the Serampore Senate Extension Programme, Dr. Wati Longchar, organised the programme. He visited Gurukul also. Facutly memebers from Gurukul and Madras Theological Smeniary Chennai, UTC, Bangalore and ACTC, Hyderabad acted as resource persons. Dr. Merci Rani who was in Gurukul for her M.Th and Ph. D. studies and now a faculty member at MTS also was a resource person. About 40 students in four batches attended the classes. Most of them came from secular fields -- one person was an MS in Neurosurgery, two were university professors, others were teachers, IT professionals, missionaries and house wives. They mainly joined this programme to get some deeper understanding of Christian faith and the degree they would get will of course qualify them to effectively participate in the Church's ministry along with their secular jobs.
Wati Longchar took charge as the Dean of the Senate Centre for Extension and the Pasotral Theological Research (SCEPTRE) after serving the Eastern Theological College, Jorhat, Assam for several years. He was also the Asia_Pacific Consultant for Ecumenical Theology, a joint programme (now defunct) of the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Council of Churches.
Longchar took over the charge of the SCEPTRE programme from Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad who joined the Mizo Theological Seminary at Aizwal as its Principal. Dr. Gaikwad did a remarkable job in popularizing and effectively conducting the programmes.
SCEPTRE offers various diploma and degree programmes like Dip.C.S. (Diploma in Christian Studies) B.C.S.(Bachelor of Christian Studies) and D. Min. (Doctor of Ministry). B.C.S. is a four year graduate programme. The students can register for this course through a a seminary or college which offers this course or they can register directly with Dean of Extension Programme at SCEPTRE (Shrachi Centre,74B,AJC Bose Road, Kolkata 700016). Now Dr. M.T. Cherian, an alumnae of Gurukul, is serving as the Administrative Assistant of SCEPTRE. Contact classes are usually conducted in four centres in the North and South India every year. In the South contact lasses are held in Chennai and Kottayam. There are about 800 students enrolled at present. This year alone around 200 students joined the programme. Any one who has a basic degree from a recognized university is academically for admission.
B.C.S. Programme was started in 2001. The BD Syllabus was followed then with out the Biblical language requirement. The new syllabus was introduced in 2004.
One of the problem the students face with regard to all the extension programmes is difficulty to get adequate study materials. Many of them have no access to a theological library. The Senate has prepared a study book containing articles collected from various sources. It needs to be revised and tailored to suite the needs of the students since many of them are working people and they need handy and reliable materials. Syllabus also needs to be revised so as to meet both the ministerial needs as well as the academic interests of the students. Some of them would like to pursue advanced studies. Also the present evaluation system needs to revamped with focus more on assignments than examinations. The reading materials need to be made available in the Serampore website. There are some sites which student can browse for materials, like www.ntgateway.com; jtfa.blogspot.com; jtpwc.blogspot.com. We need to produce more internet materials that meet the Serampore academic requirements. For related views see: Theologia Viatorum: Theological Education