THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE OF LANKA,

PILIMATALAWA

COLLEGE DAY: 09th JULY 2010

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Chairperson of the Board of Governors Rev. Kingsley Perera, distinguished guest, Dr. Hope Antone, new Principal of the College Rev. Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu, past and present students of the College, members of the faculty, staff and colleagues, parents and friends, a warm welcome to all of you who are present here at the 47th College Day programme of the Theological College of Lanka.

Dr. Hope Antone, we welcome you warmly into our community and to the College Day programme and Induction of the new Principal. Dr. Hope Antone has been a very good friend of mine for several years. I often meet her during ecumenical gatherings. We have tried to invite her to the Theological College of Lanka from 2006 but due to her involvement with several responsibilities she is able to come only in 2010. We are glad Dr. Hope Antone is able to make it and be part of this important day of the College. She is one of the experienced and well acquainted persons in the ecumenical movement in Asia, playing a very active role bringing churches and genders together as a faith community for the common good of the people in Asia. She is the Joint Executive Secretary Faith, Mission and Unity of the Christian Conference of Asia. On behalf of the Theological College of Lanka, I extend you a very cordial and warm welcome this evening.

I stand here with the feeling of accomplishment and the dawn of a new era of changes at the College. The College presented a proposal to the Board of Governors in November 2007 to envisage a plan for future of the College. As a response, the TCL Development Group was appointed by the Board of Governors comprising representatives from the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches. The TCL Development group has adopted a three stage process to arrive at a Development Plan to guide the College through the years ahead.

The first part, to identify issues and aspirations was completed and presented to the Board of Governors. Mr. James Rowley, the Development Officer of our College did the necessary research work to formulate the envisaged agenda of the Development Group. The major six areas covered in this report consist of (1) formation, (2) academic work, (3) Board of Governors, (4) relationship with other theological institutions, (5) administration, (6) the vision and mission. The second stage of the process is to examine the options that address the issues and meet the aspirations of the College. The following developments in different areas will be considered for the College to move forward as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility”:

We invite the alumni of the College, friends and mission partners to walk with us to invest in our own future in a daring way.

THE FORMATION

The role of ecumenical theological education is not limited to training Christian ministers alone. It involves equipping the whole Christian community so that they can become living witnesses of the life-giving power of the gospel. Theological education is enabling and building up community for multiple forms of ministry in the Christian community as well as in wider human society. The College has a total of 149 students during 2009-10:

Year I/BTh I

03

BD Qualifying

08

Year II/BTh II

12

DipCS

48

Year III/BTh III

16

Dip. in Counselling (DipCGWS)

15

Year IV/BTh IV

07

Dip. in Disability (DipSED)

16

Special Course

07

Spouses’ Class

08

Regular BD

02

BD (BTh-BD upgrading)

04

College Diploma

03

 

 

In order to meet the proposed changes by the Senate of Serampore College (University), we introduced two semester system in this academic year. The newly introduced system which was practiced in the College about twenty years ago has brought with it changes and challenges. One of the positive changes is that this will help us to invite people from other countries for short periods to teach courses.

During the academic year 2009/10, we began the academic year for the academic staff on Thursday, June 14, 2009 with a retreat at the Presbyterian Church, Kandy Scots Kirk. The retreat was led by Rev Samam Perera Moderator of the Presbyterian Church.  As part of the reopening programmes, we joined the congregations of the Christ Church, Kandy (June 2009) and Christ Church, Kaduganawa (November 2009).  We continued the practice of having monthly Fellowship Group meetings.  It was with the vision of equipping the students in and through theological education-ministerial formation that these groups functioned, enabling the students to be in close touch with the Faculty, the academic staff and the fellow students.

The valedictory service was held on Friday, March 10, 2009.  The valedictory sermon was preached by Rev. P. H. Piyasena a former student and the District Chairperson of the Southern District of the Methodist Church Sri Lanka. Fifteen students were valedicted. 

Bachelor of Theology (BTh)

The Bachelor of Theology is the basic residential theological education-ministerial formation programme of the College. The Senate of Serampore College has decided to do away with the BTh programme from 2009. However, they gave us special permission to continue with the BTh for a few more years, eventually it will be replaced by the integrated BD programme.  As the Theological College of Lanka is a BD College, introducing the integrated BD programme is not a big issue.  However, it needs a clear vision, courage and careful planning on the part of the Faculty, the Board of Governors and the constituent churches. 

The number of lay workers from the constituent churches joining the College for short term theological education is slowly but steadily increasing.  The College has now created a special class to equipping them with appropriate skills related ministry.  If there are sufficient numbers of such students with the declared intention of rejoining the lay ministry team, the College will certainly do its part in equipping them with appropriate formation and skills. 

Bachelor of Divinity (BD)

We have two full time students following the regular BD programmes at the College. The College has continued the practice of offering contact seminars for the BTh-BD upgrading candidates.  The possibility of doing the BD programme in Sinhala and Tamil has helped some students in their theological journey.

Spouses’ Class

The Spouses’ Class programme has continued to function with enthusiasm.  Dr. Okada Noriko coordinated the programme efficiently with understanding.  The faculty has decided to offer a certificate course for the spouses who follow the course for two years.  This certificate will be awarded to the candidates who do a solid study of acceptable standard for a certain number of subjects during a given-two years. 

POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMME

Despite our sincere efforts, we have not yet been able to introduce postgraduate programmes at the College.  We are tirelessly working towards implementing the programme in Sri Lanka. The Association for Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA) formally announced that the Theological College of Lanka can join the area with schools in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia to launch the Master of Theology (MTh) programme, but due to an unexpected administrative crisis in ATESEA programme could not be launched. We have also worked out all the implementation process to offer a MA programme of York St. John University, UK, it too is pending as we did not get financial assurance from our partners. We continue to explore the possibilities available.

TCL – NATIONAL SEMINARY PARTNERSHIP

The TCL–National Seminary Faculty Partnership continues to be mutually enriching and rewarding.  This year also the Faculties of both the institutions and students met for an academic discussion and social evening.  This event was hosted this year by the National Seminary, Ampitiya. 

LAITY EDUCATION

Diploma in Christian Studies (DipCS)

We organized contact seminars at the College, Jaffna and Point Pedro for five subjects with the resource persons.  Most students prefer to have more contact hours.  I would like to reiterate that the College is committed to the vision of having and developing vibrant regional centres in different parts of Sri Lanka. This is very vital for the church in its mission and ministry. 

Diploma in Counselling and Group Work Skills (DipCGWS)

We are very pleased that the fifth batch of the seven-month Diploma in Counselling and Group Work Skills programme was very successfully offered in English and Tamil.  Fifteen students completed the programme. I am glad to report that the Sri Lanka National Association of Counsellors (SRILNAC) has now accredited this course and the first groupbatch of our counselling diploma holders will receive their certificates with the SRILNAC accreditation. I would like to thank Mr. Nilu Fernandopullai (President) and Ms. Nandini (Secretary) of SRILNAC. 

Diploma in Disability Education

The first batch of students completed the programme of Diploma in Disability Education successfully in October 2009 will receive their Diploma certificates today The second batch of 16 students started the programme in October 2009 with the continuous help from Christian Horizon in Canada and Deaf Link of the Methodist Church, Sri Lanka. We are thankful to Rev. Karunasekara for his services as coordinator.

I have mentioned above that the College is certainly moving in the direction of expansion.  These changes are possible only with commitment and well-clarified vision; otherwise the mission of each programme could be blown away by every wind. Our primary objective of theological education is seen as a vocation of discipling the students which involves nurturing the candidates to relate faith to life. The social awareness is being recognised as the key factor in achieving this objective.  The Faculty has the unique responsibility of initiating, designing and coordinating the process of not just expansion but also of integration and consolidation.

PUBLICATIONS

a.      Occasional Newsletter

The Occasional News Letter is a key link between the past students, churches and partners of the College. We invite all our alumni to make use of the Occasional Newsletter as a forum for interacting with one another by sharing our news and views. 

b.      Sri Lanka Journal of Theological Reflection (SLJTR)

In our last report we informed that we were very much behind the schedule of publishing the journal.  We assured you that the SLJTR will soon be on schedule. We are glad to inform you that we were able to publish the following issues and cleared the backlogs.

a)      ‘History of Christianity in Sri Lanka’ – June 2007

b)      ‘On Some Ecumenical Issues’ – December 2007

c)      ‘Christian Theologies in Dialogue’ – June 2008

d)      ‘Theological Issues by the TCL Faculty’ – December 2008

e)      ‘Theological Education’ – June 2009

 

We cannot justify our existence as a theological community without making original Sri Lankan contributions to theological literature.  However, reality taken into consideration, we decided to publish one issue per year from the year 2009. We thank Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu and Rev. Rosemary Fletcher (co-editors), Mr. James Rowley (Business Manager), Editorial Board members, subscribers, supporters, well-wishers and writers for their understanding and contributions.   

THE FACULTY

The College has encountered major changes in the faculty situation during this academic year. Rev. Dr. C. Lawrence (CSI Church in India) and his wife Mrs. Malar and their son Felix and Felicita left the College in September 2009, after completing their contract of serving at the College for 6 years. Rev. Priyantha Wijegoonawardana (Baptist Church), with his wife Owshadi and daughter Ovini and son Ovindu rejoined the church ministry after serving in the College for 5 years. Rev. K. Karunasekara (Methodist Church) with his wife Jancy, daughter Berith and son Emeth rejoined the church after serving the College for 5 years. Rev. Keerthi Fernando (Diocese of Colombo), with his wife Arlene McShane, son Sethlath and daughter Sethsara rejoined the church after serving in the College for 14 years. Rev. Rosemary Flecher (British Methodist Church) and her husband James Rowley (Development Officer) have completed their contract are preparing to leave the country soon. Rev. Dr. A. W. Jebanesan (Methodist Church), with his wife Priyanthy, sons Jason and Ivan are rejoining the church. Rev. Dr. Jebanesan having served in the College as a lecturer and Principal for 17 years. The College community thank all of them for their contribution towards the furtherance of theological education.

Rev. Arulampalam Stephen (Diocese of Colombo) joined the College in January 2010. There are seven full time resident faculty members at the College now. We are anxiously awaiting for the arrival of Dr. Arul Dhas from Christian Medical College, Vellore, India with his family at the beginning of the next academic year. He holds doctorate in the field of New Testament and a trained person in the field of counselling. He would join the College with his wife Ann, daughter Arpana and son Anand. There are several faculty vacant positions and we are negotiating with the constituent churches to release people who are interested in theological education. The Faculty will be much stronger when new faculty members join the faculty during this academic year.

A special workshop for the College faculty was held on ‘Teaching Methodology for Theological College’ was conducted by Professor Deepthi Bandara, Director of the Staff Development Centre of the Peredeniya University on 12 -13 May  2010. Topics such as, ‘Theoretical Framework of Teaching’, ‘Aims and Objectives in Teaching’, ‘Identification of Training Needs’, ‘Lesson Analysis and Lesson Planning’, ‘Introduction to Teaching Methods’, ‘Use of Questions in Teaching’ were dealt within the workshop.

THE STAFF

The College is thankful to the services rendered by Ms. Maduka Perera (accounts), Ms. Irangani (service staff) who left us this year. We wish them well.

Ms. Miloney (accounts), Ms. Roshan (technician), Mr.Ramesh and Mr. Sebastian (service staff) joined the college. We warmly welcome them into the TCL family.

THE STUDENT COMMUNITY

The resident student body at College was 50 in the academic year. The student body play an active role in every aspect of the College life. The official representation of the student leader at the College Board of Governors and Faculty Meetings enables the students to play an active role in the administrative decision making of the College. The students’ commitment under the leadership of the student leader Rasika Abesinghe in all College activities is much appreciated.

On 20 March 2010, singers from ‘Adagio Chorale’, an excellent local choir, gave a concert in aid of Haiti Relief at St. Paul’s Church, Kandy.  Organised by the Social Action Committee of TCL, it was probably the first time the college has raised money for a cause outside Sri Lanka. Together with the Lent self-denial efforts, Rs. 81,000, which translated into 480, was raised and sent Christian Aid, UK.

STUDENT EXPOSURE PROGRAMMES

a.       Two of our students were privileged to attend the Asian Ecumenical Course in October 2009. This was an ecumenical leadership formation programme funded by the Christian Conference of Asia. It was held in October 2009 in Kolkata at the Senate of Serampore College. The theme was “Living Together in The Household Of God - Towards A Wider Ecumenism”. They looked at the history of the ecumenical movement and the Biblical foundation of ecumenism through Asian eyes.  They investigated ecumenism through various church and contextual situations.

b.      Two of our students were privileged to attend the Asian Ecumenical Course (AEC) in April 2010. On this course they met 20 other young people from 12 different countries.  The participants shared their faith journeys, attended lectures on a variety of interesting subjects, had discussions, took part in drama and music, and were active in morning and evening worship. They also attended the 13th Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in Malaysia in April 2010. 

c.       One of our third year student participated in the Face to Face Programme which is sponsored by the Council for World Mission (CWM) in partnership with the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).  The seven-week programme was held from 12th October 2009 to 27th November 2009. We believe that this Face to Face Programme has greatly enriched not only the students who have participated thus far but also the TCL Community. It is significant that our students who went to Zambia were instrumental in organising a programme to raise moneys for relief work in Haiti.  This shows that this Face to Face programme has broadened horizons and areas of concern. We are very grateful for CWM for admitting us to this programme for a second year.   

FIELD EDUCATION

The Field Education programme was coordinated by Rev. A. R. Mahendran for all the students of the College. It is an essential and compulsory aspect of their training and formation. There are different categories of field education.

This academic year, as usual students were sent to pastoral, ecumenical, caring ministry and frontier ministry. In addition to the above areas, on an experimental basis, we sent some students to skill training in house wiring, repairing of household electrical appliances and carpentry.

First years were sent to pastoral exposure in different Churches in the first semester. They reported back their experiences with a detailed report. In the second semester they were sent for skill training. Second years students worked in the nearby hospital, Nandana Lama Samajaya and Mahakantha estate. Third years were sent to work issues related to human rights at Sathyothaya, Deva Saranaya, Right to Life and the Women’s Development Centre. Fourth years were given ecumenical and pastoral exposure.

For the long vacation field education students were divided into four groups. The first group was sent to Jaffna to work among the people who were affected by war. The second group of students assisted a social analysis survey to understand, ‘why people are attracted by free forms of worship?’ and ‘what are the reasons that prevent people attending worship services’. The third group of students were given an opportunity to understand and work among the people with disabilities in the Batticaloa area. The fourth group of students were given an opportunity to understand the problems faced by the fishing communities in the Negambo area. The different types of exposure made the students, reflect on the struggle and sufferings of the people.

We sincerely thank all the people and institutions for extending their kind support and co-operation towards the field education programme and look forward to their continuous support and co-operation in the future. Our special thanks go to the Sri Lanka Link of Goudhurst in the UK for supporting the College field education programme for the last several years.

LIBRARY

The Library (with its associated Church History Documentation Centre) continues to be one of the focal points of the College, since students and Faculty not only come to read and to borrow there, but the Library/CHDC areas are also used for College functions, exams, Board meetings and other meetings. The students’ spouses have their own classes in the building.

The Library makes available over 26,800 books (including theses) and over 80 current periodicals and newsletters, as well as back issues of significant journals; over 500 titles are recorded in our list of periodicals. We have a collection of DVDs, VCDs and videos, both those relevant to our courses and also for the entertainment of the TCL community. Some computer-based resources (e.g. BibleWorks) are available via the Computer Room. The CHDC’s resources are for reference use, but some are duplicated by the Library and are therefore made more widely available. The two collections complement each other.

Exploitation of the resources is facilitated via a stand-alone PC that hosts the Library Books Database, Articles Database, and CHDC Database.

The Library caters especially for the students and Faculty, but is also used by the wider TCL community. There is also a membership scheme available for TCL alumni and for those people who are not linked to the College. The students assist in making the Library available for reference and study purposes in the evenings. The Library Committee is responsible for keeping the Reference section clean and for making sure that the books are in order.

The process of computerizing the catalogue of book records, using a customized Access database, was completed. The project, which began in November 2006, took about 3 years. We have input the records of over 26,800 accessions. We are able to highlight contributions (e.g. chapters in edited works) by Sri Lankans.

On the periodicals side, we are proceeding well with an Articles Database which currently has over 6270 articles indexed from primarily Sri Lankan journals in both the religious and secular fields. We hope that this will promote use of our periodicals collection, and it also complements the CHDC due to the local Church sources indexed.

Ms. Maggie Mudalige has completed her contract with the College after 11 years working as the College Librarian. Our heartfelt thanks to Maggie; for her tireless work to bring the TCL Library to an acceptable standard with other theological libraries. Although she has officially completed her contract, it has been agreed that she will continue to assist the library. Ms. Miloney Srinivasan was taken on to assist with the Tamil side of the Library functions. She is a great help to us. The Library staff continued to be involved with the distribution of both College publications, the Occasional Newsletter and the Sri Lanka Journal of Theological Reflection. We have been encouraged by the willingness of institutions to exchange their journals for our own. The year ahead will see some big changes in the Library, but we are thankful to God for Gods enabling hand and grateful to the Faculty and others who support our work and help us to move things forward.

CHAPEL

The chapel continues to function as the livewire of the life of the TCL community.  During the year under review, opportunities were given for the TCL Sunday school, and Women’s fellowship to take a leading part during the community Holy Communion Service on Wednesdays. They participated with much enthusiasm and the TCL community welcomed it and enjoyed worshiping. Worships services led by the class groups on Monday mornings emphasis creativity in worship and continue to usually be meaningful. Students continue to work hard in preparing to lead worship in English, conducted on Thursdays. This is yet another opportunity for the visiting staff, students of the spouses’ class and the Counselling students to come together for worship.

The Quiet day programme for the first semester, on 22nd August was conducted Rev K. J. Arulrajah of the Methodist Church. The second Quiet Day programme on Ash Wednesday was conducted by Rev Jude Saparamadu of the National Seminary, Ampitiya. The Children’s fellowship was re-organised by the initiative of some of the students and spouses in the community. The entire TCL community is grateful for their initiative and their dedicated service. 

The College Christmas carol programme was presented to the Kandy public on the open stage at the Kandy City Centre in 5th December 2009. We are grateful for the Choirs of the Hill Wood College and YMCA for jointly presenting the Christmas programme. It was an occasion of all three choirs to come together to proclaim the Christmas message in songs and drama, having ‘Come as Flow of Justice’ as the theme. 

MUSIC CLASSES

Since October 2005, we have been holding voluntary music classes each week. This is primarily to help with Western music in the College chapel. This academic year Revd. Rosemary Fletcher continued with one intermediate class on Tuesday afternoons before the Tuesday Choir Practice. Also in her 5 years here, Rev. Rosemary has been helping on Tuesday evenings with Western hymns at Choir Practice. 

SOCIETIES IN ACTION

a)      The Basil Jackson Theological Society: The Rev. Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu was the Patron of this Society. The Basil Jackson Theological Day was held on the 27th November 2009. Sixteen seminars on various theological topics were held on first and third Wednesdays during the year. The ‘Cine Forum’ concept was launched during this year, where a theological reflection followed a film. The most significant event was a week seminar on Conflict Transformation designed and led by Rev. Anura Perera.  We are grateful to Rev. Anura Perera for taking the pains to formulate this seminar with the resource persons from different political and social spectrums. 

b)      The Sinhala Sahithya Sangamaya: The Sinhala Sahithya Sangamaya functioned with patron Rev Priyantha’s guidance. The Sinhala Sahithya Day was celebrated on 2nd October 2009. The Chief Guest for this occasion was Mr. Clive Shantha, VicePrincipal of the Shantha Aana College, Kurunagala. He delivered a thought provoking speech on “Importance of Culture in the Changing Society”. Sahithiya Sangamaya organised an essay competition among the schools in the area on ‘Dawn of Humanism’. 150 children participated and received certificates.  The society’s “Sandeepanee” magazine was published. The endeavour of publishing a magazine has provided an opportunity to improve the writing skills of students in Sinhala language.

c)      The Tamil Kala Mandram functioned throughout the year with patron Rev.K.Karunasekara’s guidance. On 27th February, we were invited to present programme on the 198th anniversary of the Ceylon Bible Society at the Methodist Church, Yatinuwara Veediya.  The annual ‘Thai Pongal’ service and celebration was held as usual. The annual Tamil literary event “Muthamil Asram” was held and Rev. Enoch Punitharajah from the Church of the American Ceylon Mission was the chief guest. The annual Tamil Magazine “Vidivai Nokki” of the Mandram was also published.

d)      The Department of English: The English Programme of the College is progressing well. Serious study goes on in four groups according to ability of students. The fun part of improving their language skills has taken the form of reading, poetry, spelling and essay competitions – building up to ‘English Day’ on the 5th March 2009 – with Drama, Singing and Games.

e)      The Nandana Nursery was closed down temporally due to inadequate applications received to continue the programme. It was decided to do a study during the course of this year to understand the needs of the children in the area before a final decision is taken on this issue. We thank the teachers Ms Shirani Aluthge (Head Teacher), Ms. Ajitha Ratnayake for their work done at the Nursery.

f)       Women Fellowship consists of 35 members. It includes all female students and staff, faculty and student spouses. They meet every fortnight for prayer fellowships and Bible studies within the College campus. They also play an active role in all College activities. We thank them for their untiring contribution in the life of the College.

FARM AND GARDEN

College garden produce and cattle farm continue to be a blessing to the College community.  During the year we have continued to share the fruits of the earth under the supervision of Ms. Jancy Karunasekara and Rev. Priyantha. The cows continue to provide milk for the community at a good price.

CONCLUSION

We thank God for God’s guidance and strength to complete another year in our theological journey. This report is not about what I did during the past year but what we did as, colleagues in the faculty, teaching staff, Office staff, service staff and all the members in the TCL community, during the past year. My five year office as the Principal of the College has now completed. The newly inducted Principal Rev. Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu will take us forward to a new era of theological education in the country.

 

At this stage I stand before you as a person who had served longest period in this institution. I have been attached to the College from the year 1994. Now the time has come for me to move and I am proud that I have more than 150 students who are now in full time ministry all over the country. I thank all of you for walking with me as a team. All the constituent Churches of the College encouraged, evaluated and guided us in our theological journey. Our partners have always supported us whenever we needed to move into a new phase of theological education. On behalf of the Theological College of Lanka we thank God for all those who have supported and guided us in our journey of faith. We dedicate ourselves, with much love and gratitude to all our partners, both in Sri Lanka and abroad. May God bless you all!

Rev. Dr. A. W. Jebanesan

Principal