The idea of establishing a seminary in Trincomalee to cater to the needs of the churches in the Northeast was conceived in 1997. Based on this idea a proposal for a theological extension center was presented to the CTS Council by Dr. Charles Hoole, who was at that time serving as Academic Dean of CTS. Although the proposal was unanimously accepted, the Council felt that CTS was not ready to undertake such a project in the foreseeable future. Consequently Baldaeus Thelogical College became an independent project of a few individuals and churches with a shared vision for the Lord's work in the Northeast.
By September 1998 Baldaeus support groups were established in the UK, Canada and Sri Lanka and on 31st January, 2000 Baldaeus Theological College began operating in its present location. With a strong commitment to the authority of the Bible, the new college offered comprehensive programmes of training in Tamil and Sinhalese, embracing the areas of Biblical Studies, Church History, Theology and Ethics, Practical Theology including Missions, Christian Education and Pastoralia. The introduction of a Sinhala programme ensured the multi-cultural character of BTC from its very inception.
Our first batch of students, both men and women, came from Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Periya Kallaru, Mannar, Hatton, Minneriya and Habarana; consequently they represented all the regions of the Northeast. Quite a few of them were pastors with 5 – 10 years of pastoral experience. It is equally amazing that BTC at this point had four full-time faculty members. Priya Handy and Nepoleon Pathmanathan both held M.Th. degrees from Glamorgan University, Wales, Charles Hoole held a Ph.D. from McMaster University, Canada, and Newton Jeyaraj held a B.Th. from CTS, Colombo. This full-time faculty was supported by a few visiting faculty members, some of them internationals who came regularly to teach modular courses.
Although our primary commitment is to campus based education and training, during the following year we were able to move outwards by opening our first extension center in the northwest of Sri Lanka. This was after a request came from the evangelical pastors' fellowship in Mannar which represents 18 different churches. In response the center was established on the 16th of April 2001 under the patronage of the fellowship. Baldaeus' relationship with similar fellowships in Vavuniya and Trincomalee also grew significantly during that year. Following an invitation from the Vavuniya Pastors' Fellowship the first modular course was taught in that town in March 2002.
BTC is endeavouring to give greater attention to field training as some of our campus-based students prepare to graduate and then launch into different kinds of church-based ministries. A significant part of the field training takes place in the Hatton – Nuwara Eliya region, and in order to facilitate and enhance this training a permanent ‘mission station' is being established in Hatton. BTC's presence in Hatton is opening other opportunities for ministry to the churches in the plantation sector. Each vacation Baldaeus hosts a Mini Bible School in Hatton for the benefit of pastors and other church workers in that region.
At this point in time we are trying to ensure that our graduating students are properly trained and equipped. By building their character and relationships while equipping them with God's Word, they would be better prepared and more effective when they go out into the world to serve the Lord in their varied callings.