Gospel Mission of India (GMI) (visit GMI website) is committed to serving the church and people of India spiritually and holistically through various means and programs such as the provision of fresh water, healthcare, and education in underserved areas, the construction of church buildings and community halls in remote places, evangelistic outreaches, and church planting. The organization conducts programmes, seminars, and conferences for church leaders and Christian workers and coordinates humanitarian, evangelistic, and benevolent campaigns. GMI was registered under the Societies Registration Act (of 1860) in 1993 with Regd. No. 209/1993.
Through its interaction with the church and society in these outreaches, the organization became aware of the acute need to assist young people who hear the call to Christian service. Many are eager to work in new areas and carry out vital ministries, but they lack the opportunity to study and prepare themselves for their callings. In 1984, GMI began a Diploma in Theology course and trained 30 students each year as evangelists and church planters in underprivileged urban and rural areas.
After 16 years, the need was felt for a full-fledged theological college with recognized degree programmes. Bethel Bible College was started in 2000 to meet this urgent need. Initially, the College offered the M.Div. degree in association with the Asia Theological Association. The college was provisionally affiliated to the Senate of Serampore College (University) from June 2005 to offer B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) degree studies and the affiliation was confirmed in 2009. Due to the paramount relevance of B.D. (English medium) degree studies in the context of Indian churches and society, the other programmes were discontinued.
The first Principal (2003-2005) of Bethel Bible College was the Rt. Rev. Dr. P. Victor Premasagar (1927-2005), former Moderator of the Church of South India. It is due to his faithful and tireless dedication to the development of the institution that the College was able to move forward and apply for affiliation with Serampore. The College will always cherish his life and memory and his invaluable contributions to the College. Dr. S. Robertson succeeded Bishop Premasagar as the second Principal of the College from November 2005.
The College is committed to the lordship of Jesus Christ and the upbuilding of His church as the aim of theological education. All courses and activities are centred on the Bible, the foundation of our common faith. The College seeks to help students to be faithful to the Scriptures and to sincerely apply them, holistically, to their own lives and contexts. Thus, prayer, worship, and service are integral parts of the College’s programme. As the College is ecumenical and interdenominational in orientation, students are also encouraged to learn from and participate in the rich traditions of other churches and denominations.
The College follows the syllabus for the B.D. programme as provided by the Senate of Serampore College (revised in 2010). The syllabus is broad in scope and contextual in application. As such, the College and its faculty members seek to apply the latest insights and resources to the instructional process so that students are well-equipped for future ministry and further studies. The College’s library is rapidly developing and is well stocked with both the latest scholarship as well as the best of traditional and foundational works.
Relational and Personal Values
The College and its faculty recognize the dignity and worth of each individual student and seek to serve them in their growth and development. The students and faculty meet in prayer each morning and throughout the day have opportunities for interaction apart from the classroom. In addition, special events throughout the year help the student body to grow together as a community. The College desires for the success of each student and offers career and other counselling as applicable in order to help students make the most of their time at the College.
The College and its faculty believe that while theological education is foundational to ministry, its one true end can only be the ministry. Accordingly, while at the College, students are encouraged to discover and exercise their spiritual gifts and God-given talents in order to set out on the path to fulfilling their callings. Students are given ample opportunities to acquire practical experience during their studies. Bethel Bible College is located near a slum in Guntur, and its life and ministry are deeply connected with the local church, community, and neighbouring villages. Students have constant opportunities for ministry in the immediate setting.
In compliance with the stipulations of the Senate of Serampore College/University, all B.D. students undergo weekend practical ministry and a six-month internship program. In line with the new curriculum, the six-month intensive practical work is normally adjusted with summer holidays and Christmas vacation. This may also be arranged with students’ own churches and dioceses; the College keeps in close contact with these churches to help ensure that the students progress and develop as needed. Other internship opportunities are also available, as well as occasional ministry field trips to other parts of Andhra Pradesh and other states in India.