Shekhar Singh teaches at Union Biblical Seminary
Ryan Miller
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

PUNE, India (Mennonite Mission Network) — For more than half a century, Union Biblical Seminary has trained Christian leaders who want to merge faith, scholarship and action. Beginning in June, UBS will accept its first doctoral students, after the Senate of Serampore College approved the UBS application to provide a doctorate in Old Testament in March.

Three doctoral students are allowed to be enrolled at UBS from June 2008. The admission procedure is underway.

Samson Parekh, seminary principal, said the programs fill a need for Mennonites and other evangelical Christians in India.

“We have been sending people abroad [to study] because we didn’t have doctoral programs in India where you could do research in an evangelical setting,” Parekh said. Many of the students trained abroad, he continued, never return to India.

Mennonites were instrumental in the early years of UBS, which now partners with Mennonite Mission Network and more than 20 other denominations. Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Church Canada Witness still support the seminary, most recently sending Canadian professor Ben Wiebe to teach during the winter 2008 semester.

“One of the footprints the missionaries have left is UBS,” said Sushant Rajat Nand, a Mennonite student from Korba, India, and the Bharatiyah General Conference Mennonite Church. “We count this as one of their greatest achievements. We are proud that our Mennonite missionaries have given this instrument to India.”

The seminary hopes to receive government registration for a second doctorate program in missions. Parekh hopes to one day also offer doctorate degrees in New Testament and Christian ministry.

Doctorate degrees, UBS leaders said, become more important as the makeup of India Christians evolves. While many early converts came from the lower castes, higher castes and people with more education now are finding Christianity attractive.

“Many non-Christians are coming to the Lord,” Parekh said. “What happens if the person who takes care of them is not trained theologically?”

UBS already offered master’s degrees in Old Testament, New Testament, Christian Ministry and Missions, four-year bachelor’s degrees, and distance education programs. All of the programs try to balance theology with practical outreach experience.

“The church exists for the people outside the church. Unless the church becomes a missionary church, it is a stationary church,” Parekh said. “Slowly it will become weak and go out of existence.”

Each student receives hands-on missionary training, serving in a mission field for seven months as part of their studies. Parekh said he wants students to experience how their theology works on the streets.

“The teaching we had, they want us to go out and apply that,” said P. Chikumla Yimchunger, a student from Nagaland who served in Delhi. “Knowledge by itself does not do much without practical experience.”

“We don’t want their theology to come out of nice offices,” Parekh said. “We want it to come from our interaction with non-Christians on the streets.”

The seminary’s emphasis on servant-leadership is evident in the campus centerpiece – Esther Augsburger’s statue of one disciple washing the feet of another disciple – and the campus presence in its neighborhood. UBS runs a primary school, a day care center and programs in sewing, fashion design and cooking to help community members train for better jobs.

Leaders said the seminary has a responsibility to help community members better themselves, just as it has a responsibility to help students called to the ministry receive instruction.

Parekh said only about 10 percent of UBS students can afford to pay all school costs and fees, so the seminary charges only about half of the cost of educating each student. He works to raise matching scholarships for more than 150 students as well as seeking donations for the costs not covered by tuition.

“We are very thoroughly evangelical, not only among ourselves, but we are also known as evangelical outside of UBS,” Parekh said. “Mennonites did a great job here. Their piety, their holiness, their way of life contributed a lot. Mennonites have a perspective of holiness, of light. They not only demonstrate that but they teach it.”

Parekh said UBS is committed to serving the church in India to its fullest.

“The church is the entity from which we work,” said Parekh. “Even if they don’t support us financially, we need their prayer support. I strongly believe in prayer.”

 

 

 Related

 

 

Football league fundraiser is no fantasyExtra-Ordinary Givinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4777/Football-league-fundraiser-is-no-fantasyFootball league fundraiser is no fantasyGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Kansas
Conflict transformation training in South Africa receives national attentionSOUTH AFRICAVideohttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4761/Conflict-transformation-training-in-South-Africa-receives-national-attentionConflict transformation training in South Africa receives national attentionGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Johannesburg
New book chronicles history of peacebuilding in Northeast AsiaSouth Koreahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4764/New-book-chronicles-history-of-peacebuilding-in-Northeast-AsiaNew book chronicles history of peacebuilding in Northeast AsiaGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Namyangju
Press Release: Leaders Inspiring LeadersPress Releasehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4763/Press-Release-Leaders-Inspiring-LeadersPress Release: Leaders Inspiring LeadersGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Elkhart, Indiana
Voices from the MVS unit of 9/11MVShttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4762/Voices-from-the-MVS-unit-of-911Voices from the MVS unit of 9/11GP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476New York City
MVS Washington, D.C., congregations honor end of ‘house’ eraMVShttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4758/MVS-DC-congregations-honor-end-of-house-eraMVS Washington, D.C., congregations honor end of ‘house’ eraGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Washington, DC.
Authentic mission partnership brings everyone to the decision-making tablePartnershiphttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4755/Authentic-mission-partnership-brings-everyone-to-the-decision-making-tableAuthentic mission partnership brings everyone to the decision-making tableGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Super SOOPers spend their retirement sharing their giftsSOOPhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4753/Super-SOOPers-spend-their-retirement-sharing-their-giftsSuper SOOPers spend their retirement sharing their giftsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Shipshewana, Indiana
Remembering Delbert ErbIn MemoriamVideohttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4754/Remembering-Delbert-ErbRemembering Delbert ErbGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mister Out-Spokin’ created Christian community in every settingObituaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4751/Mister-Out-Spokin-created-Christian-community-in-every-settingMister Out-Spokin’ created Christian community in every settingGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Youth Venture Borderlands learning tour inspires future serviceYouth Venturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4750/Youth-Venture-Borderlands-learning-tour-inspires-future-serviceYouth Venture Borderlands learning tour inspires future serviceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Douglas, Arizona
Youth Venture Borderlands tour in photosPhoto essayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4749/Youth-Venture-Borderlands-tour-in-photosYouth Venture Borderlands tour in photosGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
More Mustard Seeds: Director of Mennonite Bible School in South Africa releases book on forgivenessMore Mustard Seedshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4733/More-Mustard-Seeds-Director-of-Mennonite-Bible-School-in-South-Africa-releases-book-on-forgivenessMore Mustard Seeds: Director of Mennonite Bible School in South Africa releases book on forgivenessGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
For MVS placement, everyday is ‘World Nature Conservation Day’MVShttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4732/For-MVS-placement-everyday-is-World-Nature-Conservation-DayFor MVS placement, everyday is ‘World Nature Conservation Day’GP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Colorado
The 2022 Mennonite World Conference Assembly in photosGALLERYhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4731/The-2022-Mennonite-World-Conference-Assembly-in-photosThe 2022 Mennonite World Conference Assembly in photosGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476

 

 

 

 

Football league fundraiser is no fantasyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4777/Football-league-fundraiser-is-no-fantasyFootball league fundraiser is no fantasy
Conflict transformation training in South Africa receives national attentionhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4761/Conflict-transformation-training-in-South-Africa-receives-national-attentionConflict transformation training in South Africa receives national attention
New book chronicles history of peacebuilding in Northeast Asiahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4764/New-book-chronicles-history-of-peacebuilding-in-Northeast-AsiaNew book chronicles history of peacebuilding in Northeast Asia
Press Release: Leaders Inspiring Leadershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4763/Press-Release-Leaders-Inspiring-LeadersPress Release: Leaders Inspiring Leaders
Voices from the MVS unit of 9/11https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4762/Voices-from-the-MVS-unit-of-911Voices from the MVS unit of 9/11
MVS Washington, D.C., congregations honor end of ‘house’ erahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4758/MVS-DC-congregations-honor-end-of-house-eraMVS Washington, D.C., congregations honor end of ‘house’ era



 

 

MVS Minute #11: The secret ingredient?https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/4768/MVS-Minute-11-The-secret-ingredientMVS Minute #11: The secret ingredient?MVS Minute
Friends become familia at God’s tablehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4769/Friends-become-familia-at-God’s-tableFriends become familia at God’s tableHispanic-Mennonite Heritage
Football league fundraiser is no fantasyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4777/Football-league-fundraiser-is-no-fantasyFootball league fundraiser is no fantasyExtra-Ordinary Giving
MVS Minute #06: What does MVS smell like?https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/4774/MVS-Minute-06-What-does-MVS-smell-likeMVS Minute #06: What does MVS smell like?MVS Minute
MVS Minute #07: The secret ingredient?https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/4773/MVS-Minute-07-The-secret-ingredientMVS Minute #07: The secret ingredient?MVS Minute
MVS Minute #08: Alamosa unit sneak peek!https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/4772/MVS-Minute-08-Alamosa-unit-sneak-peekMVS Minute #08: Alamosa unit sneak peek!MVS Minute