Age of the Missionaries
Missionaries of MELIM (the Missouri Evangelical Lutheran India Mission) started their work in Nagercoil in the year of 1907. Later Nagercoil became the main centre of their mission activities. Along with the propagation of the Gospel, the Lutheran missionaries intentionally established educational institutions, to train and equip Indian men for effective communication and evangelism. For this reason, they started educational institutions along with almost all local mission centers. Since there were very few missionaries, and the demand for workers was very vast, they needed to utilize the local people for evangelistic work. The local men, however, needed to be educated properly in Biblical doctrines. So the missionaries started catechetical training and a Theological School at Nagercoil in 1908.
There was a break in educational activity during the First World War. This interruption of education due to the Great War only highlighted the the need for more Indian workers. In the midst of many problems, theological training was improved in 1916-1917. Even this training, however, was found inadequate. So the missionaries planned to create a better way for a good theological education.
The need for founding a Seminary with definite objectives were discussed in various Conferences. The 11th General Conference of MELIM, held at Ambur in 1921, felt the need of a theological study and an institution. In 1922, the 12th conference resolved to open a seminary and appointed a seminary committee to proceed with this matter. This committee submitted its report after a deep thought and recommended to open a three year pastors course with vicarage between the second and third year. In the 13th Conference held at Nagercoil in 1923 they decided to open a Seminary in Nagercoil. In that conference Rev. Paul F E Heckel, Rev. John C W Harms, Rev. Emil A Noffke, Rev. P M Kauffeld, Rev. A J Lutz and Rev. A C Fritze had submitted a request that a seminary should be started at Nageroil. Since the adherents of Lutherans were situated in the Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka: Nagercoil became the ideal and central place to start its prestigious theological training centre.
In 1924, MELIM started the CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NAGERCOIL.
Since there were no proper buildings for the class rooms, the Seminary started in the old bungalow which is in today’s Calvary Lutheran Church compound, across the road from the Seminary.
Principals of Concordia Theological Seminary, Nagercoil.
- The first Principal / President of the seminary was Rev. Theoder Gutknecht. Due to First World War, he could not achieve much developments. In the beginning missionaries themselves handled the classes. However in 1928 the first batch of seven pastors came out.
- After this Rev. Richard W Goerss (1928-1937) played a vital role in the development of the seminary as a principal The present seminary campus was purchased in 1928. During his administration, the need for a new seminary building was felt. Living quarters for students were constructed. Need of additional class rooms, Library buildings and necessity of a worshiping place also felt. In 1932, the Seminary Library and classrooms were dedicated. He also opened the woman’s class.
- Under the administration of the third principal Anton J Lutz ,( 1937-1948) the seminary underwent a complete change. The students got diploma certificates. The wives of the students were given special instructions during their stay in Nagercoil.
- Rev. H E Miller ( 1948-1954) was the fourth principal.
- Followed him Dr. Martin L Kretzmann ( 1954-1963) served this institution as the principal. In 1959 seminary was affiliated with Serampore College ( University) for the granting of the Diploma or Licentiate in Theology (LTh.) to its graduates. The first group of eleven students sat for the Serampore examinations and was graduated in 1962.
- Dr. Robert M Zorn( 1963-1970) was the sixth principal.
- Rev. Dr. B H Jackayya (1970-1979) was the first Indian principal of Concordia Seminary, Nagercoil.
- Rev. Dr. J C Gamaliel (1979-1983)was the eighth principal.
- Followed him Rev. Dr. Luther W Meinzen ( 1983-1988).
- Rev. Dr. A R victor raj (1988-1990)
- Rev. Dr. A Rajaian( 1991-2002).
- After the retirement of Dr. Rajaian in 2002, in the absence of a formally appointed principal, the seniormost faculty member Rev. T. Joy acted as the principal in charge. Due to the administrative stalemate the proper appointment of principal was not made. But the divided group appointed Rev. John Anderson as the principal and he was also in the campus as the principal for a short period.
- Consequent upon the retirement of Rev. T. joy in 2004, Rev. Dr. Joshua Siromony functioned as the principal in Charge.
- Following him Rev. D. V. Bernard was appointed as the principal. Before his retirement Rev. Dr. Samuel W Mezhack was appointed in 2011 as the principal. During this period, the seminary upgraded as a BD college, still accredited by the University of Serampore.
- After the retirement of Rev. Mezhack, Rev. Dr. Monikaraj was appointed as the principal in 2014. The first batch of BD graduates was gone out in 2015. Principal Monikaraj’s retirement is in March of 2017.
- Rev. Dr. D. Christudas was appointed by the BPLT in February 20, 2017, to replace Dr. Monikaraj as Principal.
The main complex of buildings consists of six separate structures connected with covered corridors, the Chapel, Faculty room, the library, classrooms administrative block and an auditorium (Naether Hall) The south quadrangle is arranged for open air meetings. The main entrance is through the Antonette Feldner Zorn memorial tower. There are 18 cottages for married students and a hostel for unmarried students. A student’s centre for recreational purposes was donated to the Seminary by the Gama Delta Society of USA. (At present this hall is converted to the maintenance workshop). There are 11 staff quarters located on the Seminary campus.
The first phase of a commercial building complex was dedicated in October 1980. Now there is a bank, post office and few shops are running in our commercial building complex. There is a coconut plantation in our compound. A working woman hostel was started in the campus in the year 1982 to accommodate working women and girl students. This was an income generating project for the seminary as well as a social service.
Other than ministerial Training, the Seminary offers many periodical and annual programs. The Pastor’s Refresher course (PRC), In-Service training for Pastors (IST), a Spoken English program for ministerial students, with resource persons from USA and Canada, are the notable programs in this regard. Lay training programs in IELC are also carried out by the Seminary.
Seminary’s administration is under the Board for Pastoral and Lay Training (BPLT) of the India Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC) As an educational institution its administration is headed by the principal. He is the chief administrator. By virtue of the IELC constitutional responsibilities, he also serves as the Appeal Committee convener.
Under the leadership of the principal, the Faculty serves as a committee for the smooth function of this institution. One of the faculty appointed by the BPLT serves as Student Dean to taken care of matters related students. A Bursar appointed by faculty serves as the manager of the administration. An Academic Dean among teaching staff serves as in charge of academic matters. Other faculty members will be assigned other duties like, faculty Secretary, Compound Manager, Librarian and advisors for various students’ activities. A lay Training promoter will look after the lay training programs throughout IELC with the assistance of other faculty members. Members of the faculty have themselves been involved in various capacities by way of service to congregations, circles Synods, and Boards. Presentation of Theological Essays, Bible studies, participation in pastoral conferences, re training pastors, lay training, visiting the probationers and conducting seminars for vicars etc. This shows the faculty of the seminary serves as the helping arm to the growth and mission of IELC.
The Concordia Seminary Students’ Association is formed to encourage the students in extracurricular activities and to build up a good fellowship and unity among the students.
Concordia Seminary through IELC, maintains a smooth and close relationship with its past mother Church (Presently a partner Church), the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Majority of the seminaries in India are working as an ecumenical basis. But from its beginning onwards, CTSN is an institution under a single denomination, IELC. Concordia Seminary is an eye and heart of IELC. The life and growth and mission of IELC is indebted with the pastoral training which was given in the seminary for the past several years. From 1924 onwards CTSN played a vital role as a uniting factor of IELC. It connects three synods and five boards of IELC. IELC is a church having people from various caste groups, and linguistic and cultural background. As a back bone of IELC it needs proper care and maximum utilization by the whole membership of IELC. Even though it has a long history, its growth is not at an appreciable level.