The Eastern Theological College (hereafter as ETC), as the premier theological and training institution of the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India, plays a leading role in promoting theological education in the North Eastern region of India. By adopting a need-based programme, it caters to the ever growing and diversifying needs of the CBCNEI and other sister Churches of the region and beyond.
In this pioneering work Boggs was ably assisted by the Rev. Henry Goldsmith since the Nowgong days in 1904. The institution later grew into a group of schools called the Jorhat Christian Schools which included the Bible School (1906), a Middle English School, a Normal School and an Industrial School (all in 1907) and later a High School (1914).
Though the adverse circumstances of the period that followed made things difficult for some of the schools to prosper, others did well and were able to cater the leadership needs of the nascent churches. But soon it was evident to some perceptive leaders – missionaries and nationals – that the Bible School and the High School training would not be enough in the years to come if the churches in the region were to effectively meet the challenges of the fast changing times.
The College struggled during its early years due to low enrolment, meagre facilities, and Cook’s resignation from the mission in 1952 was a serious setback. Though classes continued under the Acting Principal of Rev. M. J. Chance, significant development took place under the leadership of Dr. J. Douglas Duffy who became the Principal in 1953. During his leadership the infrastructure of the College buildings were developed – the Men’s hostels, the dining hall and the women’s hostel and the enrolment of the students was also increased.
Following the departure of Dr. Duffy in 1958 Rev. James M. Wood was appointed as Principal. Wood stabilized the finances of the college and prepared the way for important developments during the 1960s under the leadership of Rev. George W. Peck (1962-1963), Dr Frederick S. Downs (1963-1966) and Dr Jonathan H. Thumra (1966-1987), the first Indian Principal.
Now plans are under way to start M.Th in the field of Christian Ministry from 2008 academic session. ETC also co-ordinates the Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree course of the Senate of Serampore College. Besides the formal degree programmes of the College, ETC also co-ordinates external studies of Dip. C. S. and B.C.S. of the Senate of Serampore College. There is also a constant development in another front. Over the years a faculty development programme has been going on and today ETC have 18 teachers of which 9 are doctorate degree holders. Today ETC can boast of having fully qualified teaching Faculty.
The qualitative growth of the College described above has been constantly matched by a quantitative growth as well. The table below shows the numerical growth of the student population who year after year passed out from the College, and the yearly average beginning from the 1950s through the 2000s.
- 1950s ……… 6
- 1960s ……… 9
- 1970s ……… 20
- 1980s ……… 34
- 1990s ……… 70
- 2000s ……… 90
Beginning from the low figure of 5 students passing out successfully in 1953, it has gone up to 90 in 1998. Altogether over two thousand successful candidates of various diploma and degree levels have gone out to the field and are now serving in the churches in various capacities including very many key positions in the CBCNEI and other sister church organizations in the region, nationals and in international levels.