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Anniversaries are worth noting in the sense that they have an abiding significance. They mark the bygone years that have accumulated and emerged into the present giving a sense of achievement but more importantly, strengthening and affirming one’s identity and rationale for existence. And that is how through the abundant grace of God, OTS finds itself basking in the joy and blessing of the Lord as it celebrated the 25th anniversary this year (1991 -2016).
With an intentional aim to celebrate the anniversary in a unique manner, a yearlong program was laid out and OTS organized the following events to mark the anniversary year:
Spring Youth Fiesta: With the rationale that celebrations should begin at home, a 3-day program was organized in March for the youth of the eight neighboring villages, namely, Kiyeto, Bade, Murise, Tsithrongse, Diezephe, Singrijan and Selouphe. A football tournament was held with much gusto and musical concert at the end drew hundreds of youth from the area.
Nagaland –Manipur Peace Activists Meet: In line with OTS’ long involvement in peace work over the years this event was organized in collaboration with North Eastern Social Research center and Peace Channel at Life Spring Corner in May this year. Local conflicts as well as common issues of the people of Nagaland and Manipur were discussed and resulted in forming a working group to strengthen continued collaboration between peace workers of the two states.
Symposium with Pastors of Dimapur Area: This event was organized in October with a paper reading entitled “Prophetic Imagination in Pastoral Ministry,” by the Principal, OTS, Rev. Dr. Wati Aier. Attended by a significant number of pastors common concerns facing the church today were expressed and deliberated upon.
25thAnniversary Gala Celebration: The year long anniversary celebration finally culminated on November 25, 2016. It was a day-long event beginning with the Alumni Get-Together. Dr. James Kalong, Academic Dean, chaired the meeting and Rev. Dr. Wati Aier, Principal, spoke on the theme, “Retrospect and Prospect.” The highlight of the morning session was the OTS alumni assembly in which the program dwelled on the shared vision of OTS mission. In the afternoon, the foundation stone for construction of the Baptist Research Center (a project of NBCC) was laid with a word and prayer from the General Secretary, NBCC, Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho. The final celebration followed, beginning with greetings from Rev. Dr. V. K. Nuh, the first chair of the Board of Trustees. Reflections on the early days were brought by some members of Bade Village community, including the pastor, women leader, and one of the land donors.
One of the high spots of the afternoon was the laudation led by Dr. Joshua Lorin, the Convener of the Anniversary committee. He gave a quick recapitulation of the vision of NBCC and Rev. Dr. Wati Aier in establishing OTS and the vision that has brought it thus far. All the members of the Board of Trustees, past and present, were given commendations in acknowledgement of their contribution towards OTS ministry. A stirring speech on the anniversary theme, “Sowing, Nurturing, Flourishing,” was delivered by Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho, the NBCC General Secretary. Finally, Rev. Dr. Wati Aier, the Principal, gave an impassioned call entitled, “On to the future.” Worship music was led by the seminary choir and Bade Baptist Church choir.
And so the year-long celebration came to a close.
But …how did it all begin? The Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) had long felt the need of establishing a theological seminary at the graduate level in Nagaland. This became a reality with the formal installation of the office of the Principal on 19th May 1991. This historical event was further substantiated by the villagers of Bade and the Chakhesang Baptist Church Council (CBCC), Dimapur area, who donated the 82.5 acre OTS land. On May 30, 1991, the Principal, Board of Trustees, OTS, along with the leaders of Bade village and CBCC, Dimapur area, stood near an old weather beaten peepul tree, and dedicated the campus of OTS to its Creator and Master, God in Jesus Christ.
In the words of the Rev. Dr. V. K. Nuh, the first Chairperson of OTS Board of Trustees, on this day of dedication remarked: “The long felt need for a graduate level theological seminary in Nagaland is about to take place. It is a historic beginning in the pages of the history of NBCC. In accordance with the aims and objectives of the seminary, in the next decade, we will be seeing trained and competent leadership emerging and taking the most needed task of providing quality leadership roles in our churches and society. …. … No doubt, OTS has a tremendous task of building the future of our societies in line with Christian ethical principles. As we venture into the future of our history, may the Grace of God lead OTS in His perfect will.”
Indeed 25 years of God’s grace has led OTS, tangibly expressed through the faithful support of the Body of Christ – churches, institutions, individuals – locally and globally. In hindsight we have much to thank God for all that has been wrought over the past 25 years:
– Over 400 OTS alumni now serve the Lord in different parts of the world
– Partnership with churches and Christian groups through OTS’ short-term theological education and mission programs, and activities with the villages in the vicinity of OTS and beyond
– Educating the clergy, laity, and engaging in the public square
– Serving the vulnerable communities (orphans, street dwellers, special needs) in North East India through our Summer Internship Programs
– Working with immigrant and refugee communities in South East Asia
Envisioning the Coming 25 Years (2017-2042)
In the words of Dr. James Kalong, Academic Dean, OTS: “As OTS turns a new leaf and envisions the future of theological education for the next 25 years, we envisage learning and pedagogy that engage not only with relevance and currency but also on imaginative and innovative scholarship that will continue to steer and shape the vision of the seminary. The vision of OTS has always been to inculcate bohemian learning and instill creative discipleship, and we are confident of accomplishing such a vision because the band of faculty at OTS today is at its finest pool. The caliber and the camaraderie shared by the faculty are competent enough to weave new dreams and bring avant-garde ideas together and translate them into the kind of theological education that is required for posterity.”
The following are five key programs and sign-posts of OTS for the coming 25 Years:
Baptist Research Center (BRC): Established as part of the OTS 25th anniversary celebrations in November 2016, and the only one of its kind in Asia, the BRC at OTS is a project of the NBCC. The objective of BRC is to build an archival library to promote the study of Baptist heritage and history, provide resources to researchers, institutions, and churches in our region and beyond.
Foundation for Church and Society (FCS): Established in 2014, the vision of FCS is to work towards the renewal of the church and transformation of the society by promoting effective Christian living and ministry. Our mission is to partner together with people from various callings for addressing contemporary challenges of socio-economic inequality, ethnic and political conflict, and sustainable development.
Make OTS Library as one of the Resource Centers in the Global South: The library intends to offer research materials and E-resources that are supported by a cutting-edge library technology. The vision is to make the global Christian community, theological researchers, churches, and pastors have convenient access to a pool of resources through partnership with different universities and theological institutions.
Doctoral Degree Programs: The goal is to produce scholars and prophetic pastoral leaders who exhibit life-long commitment in shaping a Christian worldview and engage the faith challenges of the 21st century with sound biblical, theological, and social principles.
In conclusion Rev. Dr. Wati Aier, the Principal, sums up the future direction of OTS:
“While we may look back with fondness, to yearn to a return to the nostalgia of pristine beginnings contradicts the fundamental nature of Christian faith. Faith in the resurrection of the crucified Christ means a forward look, and expectation of newness. We strive to move forward in the heilsgeschichte –the ‘salvation history’ of God’s redemption of the world and of our lives. OTS’ future is not without creative imagination. OTS must move on “without departing” from the God of hope.”
(Compiled by the OTS Anniversary Editorial team)