World Council of Churches

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Asian Forum on Theological Education (AFTE) Guidelines

With the sprouting of many theological institutions and Bible schools in Asia, there is a need for these theological education networks to come together, learn from each other and work together and come up with a mutual support mechanism to strengthen leadership formation program of the churches. Participants of the workshop affirmed the need of bringing together different theological education networks in Asia under the umbrella “Asian Forum on Theological Education.”

31 August 2012

Guidelines

Name: Asian Forum on Theological Education (AFTE)

Historical Background

The need for a common platform for theological education in Asia has been raised by many theological institutions and associations in various occasions.  To address this need, Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has been bringing together theologians through the Congress of Asian Theologians.  The Program for Theology and Cultures in Asia (PTCA) has been organizing inter-regional, sub-regional and national activities in doing theology with Asian resources.  The Ecumenical, the Evangelical and the Pentecostal theological education networks have formed “Associations” for accreditation of their degree programmes.  All these networks and associations work independently without much cooperation, and sometimes even with some sense of rivalry or competition.[1] 

With the sprouting of many theological institutions and Bible schools in Asia, there is a need for these theological education networks to come together, learn from each other and work together and come up with a mutual support mechanism to strengthen leadership formation program of the churches.  Moreover, considering the changing global scenario of theological education in global Christianity, the Ecumenical Theological Education of the World Council of Churches (ETE-WCC) brought together representatives from the Board of Theological Education of Senate of Serampore College (BTESSC), Association for Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA), Asia Theological Association (ATA), Asia Pacific Theological Association (APTA), Association for Theological Education in Myanmar (ATEM), Association of Theological Schools in Indonesia (PERSETIA) and Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) to a workshop at Bangkok Institute of Theology in Bangkok, Thailand in July 2010, to consider the crucial tasks of theological education – e.g. theological faculty development, promotion of Asian theologies, and production of resources for theological education in Asia.  Participants of the workshop affirmed the need of bringing together different theological education networks in Asia under the umbrella “Asian Forum on Theological Education.” 

Responding to the need of working together, the first meeting of AFTE met  at Trinity Theological College, Singapore on the Pentecost-weekend from 10-11, June, 2011 to explore ways and means to strengthen common witness to Christ in engaging for theological education in Asia together.  The first meeting was presented by SSC (SCEPTRE), ATESEA, PTCA, PERSETIA (Association of Theological Education in Indonesia), APTA (Asia-Pacific Theological Association), ATA, KAATS (Korean Association of Accredited Theological School), CCA, WCC-ETE, ATEM, MATS (Malaysian Association of Theological Schools), BIT (Bangkok Institute of Theology) Thailand, Vietnam Christian Mission and the FTESEA.  The meeting was facilitated by the Ecumenical Theological Education of the World Council of Churches (ETE-WCC).

The second meeting of AFTE took place in Amanat Agung Theological Seminary in Jakarta from 29 August–1 September 2012 with the following associations represented PTCA, CJCU (Chang Jung Christian University). ATESEA, PERSETIA, BTESSC, BIT Thailand, Vietnam Christian Mission, ATEM, ATA, Trinity College Singapore, Bangladesh Council of Churches, KAATS, CCC (China Christian Council) China, Oversea Council - India, Australia Catholic University, North East India Theological Association (NEITA), Lutheran Federation, Amanat Agung Theological Seminary, WCC-ETE and FTESEA (Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia). This meeting was facilitated by ETE-WCC.

This meeting in Jakarta reviewed the AFTE guidelines and adopted the following AFTE guidelines.

Participants in AFTE have committed themselves to contribute:

-          for more cooperation among programs for theological education in Asia in order to train leaders for church and society; 

-          for more mutual learning through exchange of theological resources between the different regions within Asia;

-          for more dialogue and sharing between the different denominations and church traditions;

-          for more effective mechanisms for ensuring quality and relevant theological education;  

-          for more mutual solidarity support mechanism and network for newly emerging Christian communities in  Asia.

Nature of AFTE

It is an all-Asian Theological FORUM for theological educators from mainline denominations, Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic churches, including Asian Diaspora, Christian partners and Asian theological networks.

General Aims

-          To bring together under a common umbrella the associations/networks of different denominational and church backgrounds in Asia for dialogue and cooperation in theological education;

-          To promote holistic and relevant theological education;

Specific Objectives

To provide space for dialogue between regional associations of theological schools and theological networks on the following projects:

a.       mutual recognition of academic degrees and diplomas awarded by various theological institutions

b.      joint theological leadership institutes

c.       joint theological publications

d.      shared understanding of principles and standards of accreditation

e.       faculty and student exchange among theological institutions

f.       sharing on new ways and models of theological education and pedagogy such as distant learning models;

g.      global and regional sharing resource in the area of theological education;

h.      sharing and learning opportunities on doing theologies in multi-faith contexts in Asia.

Membership

The following may be eligible for membership:

a)      Regional and sub-regional associations of theological schools which are engaged in theological education;

b)      Accrediting Theological Associations or Universities conferring theological degrees;

c)      Institutions, programs or centers of theological research and education committed to quality theological education;

d)     Partners, networks and church-related organizations engaged in relevant theological education in Asia;

e)      National associations of theological schools, networks and movements of theological education and associations of individual theological scholars;

f)       Asian Diaspora community involved in theological education and research.

Responsibilities of Members

a)      Commitment to the aims and objectives of AFTE

b)      Active participation in AFTE activities

c)      Sharing relevant reports and information regularly

d)     Contribution to the costs of AFTE activities

Meeting of Forum

a)      The Forum shall meet at least once in every three years.

b)      Each member of the Forum is to send up to three members to attend the meeting of the Forum

c)      The Forum will propose or confirm working projects

d)     Receive new members on recommendation of Continuation Committee

e)      Receive reports of the Continuation Committee;

f)       Approve the future projects and programs of the Forum;

g)      Receive the audited financial reports and approve the budget

h)      Elect up to Seven (7) members to serve in the Continuation Committee of the Forum for a period of three (3) years.

Responsibilities of Continuation Committee

a)      Shall elect from among themselves the Moderator, Secretary, Treasurer

b)      Appoint a local host committee to arrange for the next AFTE meeting

c)      Plan, implement and follow up objectives/programs of the Forum

d)     Prepare the budget for presentation in the meeting of the Forum;

e)      Explore and administer funds and propose membership fee

f)       Review the new membership application and recommend to the Forum for approval

g)      Communicate or meet regularly to serve the purposes of AFTE

h)      May invite representatives of ecumenical partners to serve as consultants to the Continuation Committee

i)        Review and revise guidelines to be approved by the Forum.

Adopted  by

the participants of AFTE on 31 August, 2012

at Amanat Agung Theological Seminary,

Jakarta, Indonesia

AFTE webpage: http://pekhohuang.wix.com/afte#!home/mainPage


[1] [1] According to WCC-ETE there are the following associations of theological schools and Asian theologians in Asia:

Regional associations: Board of Theological Education of Senate of Serampore College (BTESSC), Association for Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA), Asia Theological Association (ATA), Asia Pacific Theological Association (APTA), Programme for Theology and Cultures in Asia (PTCA), Assemblies of God Association of Theological Education in Southern Asia (AGATESA), North East Asia Theological Association of Theological Schools (NEAATS), Society for Asian Biblical Studies (SABS), Office for Theological Education in the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC),

National associations: Association for Theological Education in Myanmar (ATEM), Association of Theological Schools in Indonesia (PERSETIA), Korean Association of Accredited Theological Schools (KAATS), Korean Association of Evangelical Theological Schools (KETS), Commission on Theological Education of China Christian Council (CCC), Malaysia Association of Theological Schools (MATS), Philippine Associations of Theological Schools (PATS), Association of Theological Education in Nepal (ATEN), Bangladesh Theological Association (BTA), North East India Theological Association (NEITA), Hongkong Association of Theological Schools (HK-ATS), Vietnam initiative for theological education network in Vietnam, Japanese Association of Theological Schools (JATS).