By John Donnelly
John Donnelly has been a long-time contributor to the Koinonia School of Ministry (now College of Theology). Every year he and Dr. Andrew Sargent visit Pune to work with the faculty on curriculum and professional development. This year Dr. Andrew was unable to travel to Pune due to health reasons, but the Lord provided a much longer window of time for John to work at KSOM. Here is his report:
This year’s visit to the Koinonia School of Ministry is a bit different than past trips. This year I am spending three months with the college working on a variety of issues. In the past we were focused on faculty development; we came to the school prior to the start of classes and we would leave after a month or so. We have never observed regular classes or gotten a chance to see how things are progressing from semester to semester. My primary goal in staying for this length of time was to observe the faculty, students, and classes; to look at what is being accomplished over the course of an entire semester and to assess what the school needs to reach our long-term performance goals.
A Commitment to Mission
After seeing this program develop over the past decade, this is what I can report. I see a faculty that are committed to the vision and mission of the school. They are committed to each other and work cooperatively day to day in the school. They are teachable and eager to learn and grow in their own academic development and experience.
I have met with the faculty at least twice a week, once to work on curriculum issues and a second time to study leadership principles together using John Maxwell materials. Over the years, we have developed several Bachelor of Theology curriculums and continue to adjust them to meet our changing needs and circumstances. This year we put a plan together for the 2014 – 2015 school year and are currently working on syllabi and tightening up courses and assignments. KSOM is looking to add a Master of Divinity program in the near future, so we have been planning how we can accommodate that expansion with our current faculty and run the two programs side by side.
Training Christian Leaders
The students at KSOM are learning to become Christian leaders. They are given many opportunities daily and weekly to lead in a variety of ways. I see them strongly involved in music and worship; many students are learning to play instruments and lead and play in worship services. I even see some students that are writing their own songs and excelling in this area. The students are gaining a deep understanding of Scripture and are learning to interpret the text in preparation for a lifetime of Christian ministry. The school has great potential to become an example and paradigm for other Bible colleges to learn from and follow.
Joining with other Christian colleges
Early in March we traveled to New Life College in Bangalore again to attend the NATA AGM (National Association for Theological Accreditation – Annual General Meeting). It was great to see what is happening in this organization. Over the past two years NATA has reorganized and is moving in the right direction to strengthen its membership and standards and help Bible Colleges in India get the accreditation they want and need for their students. KSOM was well represented there with a five member delegation. Bishop Hiwale is currently serving as the Secretary for the organization. Our members actively participated, contributing to discussions and committees when called upon.
One of the benefits of belonging to NATA are the connections we are forming with other schools. We now have the opportunity to send our students for further education and vice versa. While at the conference we made arrangements for two of our graduates to attend New Life College to work on their MDiv. Overall, the future of NATA looks very bright and KSOM has a strong position within the organization to provide leadership and serve as an example for other member schools.
A New Era at KSOM – Pune Center
It is exciting to be here during our time of transition. As many of you know, KSOM is building a new school building called Pune Center. It has been exciting to watch work continue week after week; every day we see the pace of work picking up and the facility coming together. Plumbers are working on the bathrooms, tile workers are laying floors, and electricians are installing the wiring. On the top floor, structural workers are continuing to finish up plastering and other tasks. This building will help consolidate and centralize the school’s campus and make it much easier and more convenient to work. There will be plenty of room for our current program as well as room to grow.
Today the students are preparing for and taking exams, while I am spending as much time as possible with the faculty helping to strengthen our preparation for next year. This year our graduation commencement will be held on April 12. Hard to believe this will be our ninth graduating class! I will be around the week after commencement and look forward to spending some time here with Pastor Ben before I leave.
This year’s visit has been full of teaching, learning, and assessment. It is a true joy and blessing to be a part of this organization and its future looks bright.