The Theological Pentecostal Institute from Bucharest (ITPB) is the official institution which trains ministers serving in the Romanian Pentecostal Christian Denomination – the Romanian Apostolic Church of God.
The development and running of programs of higher education for the purpose of preparing Pentecostal ministers and theologians has been an important objective in the Romanian Pentecostal Church ever since it was established. However, it is a well-known fact that, for almost 50 years, the totalitarian communist regime has limited and restricted religious life and expression in Romania. Given these circumstances, the initial stage of Pentecostal education, which was launched after the Second World War by some of the then leaders of the Pentecostal Church, consisted of intensive bible classes that were organized at national and regional levels. These courses came in response to a rising demand for clarifying and defining fundamental aspects of Pentecostal doctrine and practice.
The first of these courses took place in Arad, in 1946, under the leadership of pastor Gheorghe Bradin, who was at the time the leader of the Pentecostal Movement in Romania. A second course, also organized in Arad, in 1949, under the leadership of professor Trandafir Șandru, addressed issues of church administration. Following these, courses were organized in 1951 and 1952 in Rădăuți, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara and Bucharest. Finally, between the years 1954-1956, for the first time, two more advanced theological courses were offered in Bucharest.
Participants in a Bible course, Rădăuți, 1952
Beginning with 1974, having secured an approval from the communist authorities, bible courses were organized for the specific purpose of training existing Pentecostal pastors. These took place in Bucharest under the leadership of professor Trandafir Șandru. However, it was only in 1976, after much insistence from the leadership of the Pentecostal Christian Denomination, that the Ministry of Religious Affairs (Departamentul Cultelor – the branch of the communist government responsible with regulating religious life and expression) approved that a Pentecostal Theological Seminary be established under the leadership of professor Trandafir Șandru.
Trandafir Sandru (1924-1998)
Although the launching of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary was a tremendous accomplishment for the Pentecostal Church, the communist authorities, through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, was exerting strict control over all aspects of education taking place in the school. One of the limits imposed in this way was the fact that graduates of other higher-education institutions were forbidden to attend the Seminary. Also, toward the beginning of the eighties, the number of students permitted to attend the Seminary was reduced significantly (down to 3 students per year), thus hindering the Romanian Pentecostal denomination to address and resolve the acute need it faced for qualified Pentecostal ministers. Consequently, under the rule of the totalitarian communist regime, the Pentecostal Church did not have the benefit of an adequate educational framework within which to educate and train its ministers, theologians and educators.
The anti-communist upraise of December 1989 brought a change, for this injustice done against the Romanian Pentecostal Church was corrected when the Theological Pentecostal Institute was officially established in Bucharest on the basis of Resolution No. 164, on the 6th of April 1992. On the 31st of July 1998, ITPB and a programme named “Pentecostal Pastoral and Didactic Theology” were provisionally approved through Resolution No. 442, in accordance with the regulations directing Romanian higher education specified in Law No. 88 of 1993, republished.
The educational programme at ITPB was re-named to “Pentecostal Pastoral Theology” in order to meet the requirements of the amendments brought to the law of education by Resolution No. 1336 of 2001 regarding the nomenclature used for domains and specializations in higher education. According to Resolution No. 88 of 2005, beginning with the generation of students registered in their first year of studies during the academic year 2005-2006, the concept of “majoring” was introduced in Romanian higher education; consequently ITPB offers a degree with a major in “theology”. Furthermore, according to Government Resolution No. 635 of 2008, a programme in “Pastoral Theology,” regardless of denominational specifics, consists of 240 ECTS, to be completed over a 4 years period. The educational plan at ITPB follows these regulations.
Since the 24th of October 2008 ITPB is accredited as an institution of higher education through Law No. 194 of 21st of October 2008, published on the 24th of October 2008 in the Official Bulletin of Romania (Monitorul Oficial) Part I, Year 176 (XX) –No. 724 (see Annex 004).