The 104 th college day of the UTC was held in the Ranson Hall of the UTC yesterday at 4:00 P.M. The chief guest of the programme Advocate Rajendra Sail, the founder general secretary of the Raipur Churches Development and Relief Committee (RCDRC) and president of the Chattisgarh Unit of the People's Union for Civil Liberties gave a thought provoking and hard hitting talk on how theological education should be changed to become relevant today.
India needs a cow-dung theology where theology should emerge from the organic engagement of the church with the experiences of the rural masses in India, he said. Recollecting his forty years of association with the United Theological College, which started during his tenure at the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society under the mentorship of M M Thomas, he observed that the purpose of theological education has been reduced to the manufacturing of pastors who preach, chant and stay away from trouble.
Instead, he proposed the need for a radical envisioning so that the church will become an ally of social movements in India by participating actively in their struggles to create a new world. Drawing from his five decades long vocation as a social activist in Chattisgarh, Advocate Sail gave a contextual analysis of Indian society and challenged the community to pitch their tents in the lives of the rural communities to witness how God is making all things new through the agency of the dalits, women and other oppressed communities. To this end, he called upon the community to consider closing down UTC for one year, and invited the students and faculty to share in the lives of the rural communities for a year, and then come back to the college to engage with the bible and other sources. He also proposed a radical involvement with the social movements such as POSCO and Narmada as a component in theological education. He concluded his speech with the poem, “If you believe in heaven, make it a reality in the here and now.”
The Principal, Rev. Dr. John Samuel Raj presented a detailed report of the activities of the College during the academic year 2013-14. Dr. Nalini Arles, the faculty adviser of the College Day Celebrations welcomed and introduced the chief guest, and Mr. Gandham Daniel Vivek, the convener of the College Day Celebrations proposed the vote of thanks. Students and friends from the Kolar Gold Fields presented cultural progrmmes. Rev. Dr. R. Sahayadhas said the opening prayer, and the celebrations came to an end with prayer and benediction by Rev. Dr. C. I. David Joy.
Reported by Dr. George Zachariah
Photo credits- Mr. Calvin Sushith Ambler (BD III)