Federated Faculty for Research in Religion and Culture
In the mid 1970s, the possibility of setting up a Post-graduate Theological Faculty in Kerala was explored. The first meeting of an exploratory committee, consisting of delegates from the St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary (Vadavathoor), Mar Thoma Theological Seminary (Kottayam), Orthodox Theological Seminary (Kottayam), and Kerala United Theological Seminary (Trivandrum) was held at the Sophia Centre, Orthodox Seminary, Kottayam on 30th July 1977. The meeting was also attended by Dr. T. V. Philip, then Director of the Senate who came to Kottayam in connection with the Young Theologians' Conference under the Research Department of the Senate. The main purpose of the meeting was to explore the possibilities of pooling all the available resources in Kerala for advanced theological studies in Religion and Culture. Since then, the exploratory committee met several times and formulated rules governing the Federated Faculty and other related issues.
The purpose of the Federated Faculty as stated in the original application to the Senate can be cited as:
- To promote research in disciplines connected with religion and culture leading to Master's and Doctor's degree of the Senate.
- To provide facilities for advanced research not necessarily leading to a degree.
- To promote the study of Church traditions in depth taking into account the secular, religious and the ecumenical contexts in India.
- To provide a forum for creative dialogue between religious and secular thinkers.
- To provide facilities for the teaching of classical languages like Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, Latin and Syriac and modern languages like German and French.
Besides the above, the following objectives are also included in the list at a later stage:
- To provide scope for training of resource persons for the mission of the Church and to strengthen the life of the Church and congregations for deeper understanding of their Mission and life.
- To provide for greater interaction between the Churches and involvement in depth in their theological thinking.
- To provide scope for greater involvement in the joint witness of the ancient Church in Kerala.
- To strengthen the faculties of sister Seminaries and to provide scope for research and study at regional levels.
- To ensure greater co-operation at Post-graduate level of studies without a "centralized structure".
From the above objectives, it is quite clear that the FFRRC does not envisage the setting up of a Study Centre at a new place. The co-operation is extended in the area of sharing the faculty and Library resources of the Federated Colleges for study and research.
Theological Education began as early as 1977. In 1979, an application signed by Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios (Principal, Orthodox Theological Seminary), Rev. Dr. V. P. Thomas (Principal, Mar Thoma Theological Seminary) and Rev. Dr. Jacob Verghis (Principal, K. U. T. Seminary) was submitted to the Registrar of the Serampore Senate seeking affiliation. A Commission which visited the Seminaries in November 1979 submitted a report to the C. A. A. The Commission also visited the St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary at Vadavathoor and the Ecumenical Biblical and Oriental Study Centre, Kottayam. The faculty and library facilities of the above two Roman Catholic institutions are also available to the FFRRC for its study and research.
The Evaluation Commission submitted its report to the Senate stating all the details of the programme. In its meeting of the Senate of the Serampore University at Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary dated, February 1st, 1980, the FFRRC was recognized and affiliation at the M. Th. level was granted. The conditions laid down by the Senate have to be fulfilled by the Federated Colleges within three years. The affiliation granted at present to the FFRRC also includes doctoral level research in theology.
There is an executive body which manages the affairs of the FFRRC. The Registrar's office is at present located at the Mar Thoma Theological Seminary, Kottayam.