The Association for Theological Education in Southeast Asia (ATESEA), formerly known as the Association of Theological Schools in South East Asia (ATSSEA),was established in 1957 in Singapore with sixteen schools as founding members with the following aims:
1.To provide facilities for its members to confer concerning matters of common interest related to theological schools;
2.To consider any problem that may arise as to the relations of such institutions to one another or other educational institutions;
3.To recommend standards of theological education and maintain a list of member institutions;
4.To promote the improvement of theological education in such ways as it may deem appropriate.
ATESEA has pioneered in establishing an Asia-wide venture of cooperation among the theological schools in the areas of research, consortium programs for advanced studies, seminar-workshops for lecturers and heads of schools, and other forms of innovative programs. As an accrediting body, ATESEAhas established a set of accreditation standards to level up the quality of theological education in the region.
In partnership with the Board of Theological Education of the Senate of Serampore, ATESEA regularly publishes the Asia Journal of Theologywhich encourages Asian scholarship and theological thinking among the faculty members of the theological schools in Asia. The journal focuses especially on relating the Gospel to the cultural, historical and religious situations in Asia and on post-colonial theology.
In 2007, the ATESEA celebrated its golden anniversary at Trinity Theological College, its birthplace. Part of the celebration was to revisit the Critical Asian Principle (CAP) which was formulated in 1971. CAP hasserved as the framework of ATESEA and its graduate degree programs in theological reflections. With the changing situations in Asia, CAP was enriched and is now called the Guidelines for Doing Theologies in Asia.
In 2009, the name of South East Asia Graduate School of Theology (SEAGST), the educational arm of ATESEA was changed to ATESEA Theological Union (ATU). As part of the restructuring of the organization, ATUturned over the offering of the Master of Theology degree program to the seminaries which have the capacity to run the program. Beginning 2010, ATU has focused its offering on the Doctor of Theology administered in the twelve (12) Centers for Theological Excellence. The centers are member schools of ATESEA which have the resources to operate the program.
The following served as Executive Directors of the Association: John Fleming (1959-1967), Kosuke Koyama (1968-1974), EmeritoNacpil (1974-1981), YeowChooLak (1981-2002), SientjeMerentek-Abram (2002-2008), Anna May Say Pa Ana May Say Pa (2008-2009) and LimuelEquina (2009-present).
The ATESEA office has been in two locations intermittently. In June 1973, the ATESEA office was relocated from Singapore to Manila. It was moved back to Singapore in 1981. It was again transferred to Manila in 1998. Since 2009, the office has been based at Central Philippine University in Iloilo City, Philippines.
The mission of ATU is to enrich the intellectual and spiritual development of Asian theologians, responsive to the emerging opportunities facing the theological schools in Asia and beyond.
Academic Excellence. ATU offers quality theological education for the professional development of teachers for the theology faculties and of leaders for Christian ministry in the church and society, under the supervision of competent professors both within and outside Asia.
Contextually Asian Theology. ATU encourages the construction of contextual and Asia-oriented theology by providing opportunities for research and reflection on the significance of the Christian faith in dialogue with other living faiths, cultures and traditions of Asia and contemporary challenges.
Community and Diversity. ATU provides opportunities for the interchange of the graduate students and faculty members among the different participating Centers for Theological Excellence of ATESEA, thus enhancing regional consciousness and fellowship across the barriers of race and cultures.
The Centers for Theological Excellence of ATU
ATU will administer the D.Theol program in any of the following Centers for Theological Excellence (CTE) recognized by ATESEA:
1. Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (Silang, Cavite, Philippines)
2. Divinity School of Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
3. Divinity School of Silliman University (Dumaguete City, Philippines)
4. Duta Wacana Christian University (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
5. Lutheran Theological Seminary (Hong Kong)
6. Myanmar Institute of Theology (Insein, Myanmar)
7. Sabah Theological Seminary (Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia)
8. Satya Wacana Christian University (Salatiga, Indonesia)
9. Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Jakarta (Jakarta, Indonesia)
10. Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (Seremban, Malaysia)
11. Tainan Theological College and Seminary (Tainan, Taiwan)
12. Trinity Theological College (Singapore)
The above schools have been selected as the Centers for Theological Excellence in view of the following criteria:
a. Strong program in at least one area or field;
b. Strong in faculty (2 resident professors in the field, 2 from neighbouring seminaries with doctoral degrees);
c. Strong in financial capacity (hosting school provides 35% of the student’s budget; ATESEA – 40%, sending school – 25%),
d. Relevant library resources, and
e. Commitment to participate in the program for at least 5 years, on a renewable basis.