The Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia



Executive Director office:

140 West Highland Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118


News releases / statements

Global Digital Theological Library Launched

Statement from Thomas Phillips, Director of the Digital Theological Library:

 The 18 seminaries which co-fund the Digital Theological Library have been deeply concerned about the lack of affordable options for internet access to high quality digital content in religious studies.

            In order to address this great need, the board of the DTL funded the creation of a Global Digital Theological Library. The GLDTL has worked very aggressively with a number of "vendors and publishers of good will" to provide legal access to a wide range of proprietary content. These "vendors and publishers of good will" believe in our mission of narrowing the information gap between the developed and developing nations and they have, therefore, provided their content at incredibly low prices to the GLDTL. (If the GLDTL collection were made available to the developed nations, access would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.)

             The GLDTL is managed by the DTL staff and so no local library expertise is needed to access these collections (over 400,000 ebooks and growing).

            The cost of access to the collections is based upon the per captia income in the school's host nation. The pricing structure is below.

            Please let me if you know of schools who would benefit from this project. 

            Because our "vendors and publishers of good will" are participating in this project largely out of altruistic motives, participation is limited to schools which meet all six of the following criteria:


                Only schools which meet all of the following six criteria may join the GLDTL:

1.       The institution must be located within a nation designated as “developing” by the United Nations.

2.       The institution must be located in a nation with a per capita income under $15,000.

3.       The institution must have religious education as a core part of its mission.

4.       The institution must be not-for-profit.

5.       The institution must have fewer than 2,000 students.

6.       The institution must agree to limit access to the GLDTL to current students and employees.

The price of participation is based on the per capita income in the host nation where the school is located. The initial membership fees are listed below.

            The DTL is a non-profit corporation co-owned by these seminaries: Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology (CA), Denver Seminary, Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary, Evangelical Seminary, Lexington Theological Seminary, Singapore Bible College, Wartburg Seminary, Hartford Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Global Awakening Theological Seminary, New York Seminary, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Missio Seminary, Biblical Graduate Seminary, Norweigen School of Theology & Leadership, International Baptist Theological Study Centre (Amsterdam), and Saint Athanasius and Saint Chrysostom Theological Seminary. The GLDTL is only possible because of their efforts.


Feel free to forward this message to other interested parties.

The GLDTL will have a booth at SBL if people want to stop by to talk.


Tom Phillips (on behalf of the GLDTL).


Per Capita Income                  Number of Students                           Fees

<$5,000                                   1-100                                                   $150

<$5,000                                   101-500                                               $300

<$5,000                                   501-1,000                                            $500

<$5,000                                   1,001-2,000                                         $800

*56 countries fall into this category


$5,000-$10,000                       1-100                                                   $250

$5,000-$10,000                       101-500                                               $500

$5,000-$10,000                       501-1,000                                            $1,000

$5,000-$10,000                       1,001-2,000                                         $1,500

*32 countries fall into this category


$10,001-$15,000                     1-100                                                   $500

$10,001-$15,000                     101-500                                               $1,000

$10,001-$15,000                     501-1,000                                            $2,000

$10,001-$15,000                     1,001-2,000                                         $3,000

*27 countries fall into this category

Schools with an FTE over 2,000 may not join the GLDTL.


Former FTESEA Executive Director Marvin Hoff

The Rev. Dr. Marvin Hoff died on May 26, 2019. Dr. Hoff was interim and then part-time and full time Executive Director of the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia from 1977 to 2006.  Please see his obituary on the Western Seminary website.

Bicentenary of Serampore College (1818-2018) and Centenary of The Senate of Serampore College (1918 - 2018)
International Consultation: ‘Education for Transformation-Challenges and Prospects for Formation and Reformation’
August 21-23, 2018
Lester Ruiz and H.S. Wilson participated in this international consultation in August. Below are excerpts from the report of the consultation published in The People's Reporter:

 Excerpts from "The Role of Theological Education in Transforming Society: Is Education Liberating?"  - paper presented by Lester Ruiz

Our world in the early years of the 21st century, no longer resembles the world which gave birth to seminaries, theological schools, and university-affiliated divinity schools. On the one hand, global capital, the transnational reach of multinational corporations, modern science, technology, and higher education, the so-called information and cyberspace revolution—and the post-9/11 long march towards an all encompassing, globally dispersed panopticon, that seeks to preserve and defend the gains of capitalist-led globalization post-1989, are generating movements not only towards global integration presided over by unrepentant mandarins of modernity, but also to the discovery of a “global commons,” and of a universally oriented humanity. On the other hand, the proliferation of states, peoples, and movements, often local in orientation, and the growing and widespread skepticism towards the project of modernity and its institutions, (Giddens 1990; Bauman 2000) are generating countervailing movements, sometimes profoundly conflictual even violent, not only towards fragmentation but to an appreciation of plurality, locality, and particularity. (Brock et al 2007; Phan 2003; Okihiro 2001). A central feature of both globalization and modernity is the reality of Diaspora—which also is changing the face of theological education at all levels. Institutions of higher education including theological institutions, continue to be sites of contestation. Theological institutions, by intention and design especially in terms of learning, teaching, and research and the specific form they take in their respective theological curricula, can provide alternatives to the practices of thought and action generated by the grand narrative of modernity, or other historical narratives for that matter—e.g., (hetero)sexism, racism, class, sexual orientation). They can seek to articulate different understandings of the world in which they are situated, provide alternative readings of political, economic, cultural, and religious life—without pretending or aspiring to be legislators for church, society, and world. Such truthfulness is a necessary condition for transformation, though it is not its apotheosis. My own desire is to see accredited graduate theological education find new and better languages for transformation and hope which can give birth to new and better understandings of what the Greek philosophers called paideia described by Werner Jaeger as “the process of educating [human beings] into [their] true form, the real and genuine human nature.” 

Excerpts from presentation by H. S. Wilson

The Serampore trio, in the founding of Serampore College, in 1818 placed theological education in the secular education setting. They were convinced that
theological education within the context of good secular education is crucial for preparing the youth for needed reform and renewal of the Indian and Asiatic
societies. The first, (1818) prospectus of the college, highlighted instructing the youth in “Eastern Literature and European Science” and teaching Asian languages like Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic as well as English as means of holistic education. The Serampore trio introduced the pedagogical methods and curriculum that were prevalent in Europe of their time. Since the time of Serampore trio revolutionary changes have taken place in the academic world. So as the Senate revisionsitself from the perspectives of its legacy, some new directions need to explored for being effective instrument of transformation and renewal in the society.
1. Integrating theological education with higher education through appropriate collaborations in academic areas with Christian colleges, universities, and other research institutions.
2. Incorporating the research findings from various fields of academic study, anthropology, sociology, psychology, cosmology, history, science in theological studies and reconsidering various segments of inherited Christian views and cosmology.
3. With 200 years of experience in engaging in theological education, the Serampore theological communities have the resources that they can be shared with the neighboring countries and beyond. The South Asia Theological Research Institute (SATHRI) can be pro-active in this task and a channel of resource sharing.



The Program for Theology and Cultures in Asia (PTCA) and the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia (FTESEA) joint consultation on “Revisioning Innovative and Transformative Theological Education in Asia in the Context of Proliferation and Quest for New Forms of Education/Formation,” was hosted by Sabah Theological Seminary, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia from September 12-16, 2018.

Altogether 27 participants from ATESEA, ATA, ATEM, PERSETIA, SSC, SPATS, and CCC-TSPM attended in this historic conference. A participant from the University of South Africa and four members from FTESEA including the Chair, Vice-Chair, and a Board member along with Dr. H.S Wilson, Executive Director attended the consultation. Six participants from PTCA along with Dr. Wati Longchar, Dean of PTCA, and the Vice President for Programs of the United Board of Higher Education in Asia attended the conference. On the first day, five researchers presented case studies on proliferation of theological education in Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, India and South Korea. On the second day, challenges and prospects for theological education in Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand-Mekong were presented. Following that Wong Wai Ching from United Board, Marilyn Naidoo from University of South Africa and Huang Poho from Chang Jung Christian University presented the challenges and prospects of theological education in the context of secular/public education in Christian colleges/universities. In the context of changing senario of Asia, the representatives from ATESEA, SPATS, SSC and ATA shared short-term and long-term theological support mechanism. And finally, ecumenical partners from FTESEA, United Board and Asia-Pacific Forum-North America shared their program priorities for possible partnership towards strengthening theological education in Asia and the Pacific.

The case studies revealed that proliferation of theological education is meeting the quest for theological education by different segments of Christian communities as bulk of theological institutions are denominationally based and offer inherited curriculum from the missionary past. However, without the willingness to cooperate with each other and the existing theological education programs, they weaken theological education and formation and lead to unhealthy competition, fragmentation and quality of theological education.

The participants recognized that theological education needs to focus on the formation of the whole people of God; it should not be narrowly confined to training of clergy. In the context of poverty, illiteracy, different forms of violence, urban-rural divide and growing religious fundamentalism, Christian communities need multi-forms theological education that cater to the needs of diversified contexts.

A crucial concern in Asia is the need of contextualization of theological education. The inherited traditional western fourfold curricula (Bible, theology, church history and practical ministry) pattern of theological education is still prevailing in Asia and it is not liberative and transformative. Asian contextual issues are different and it is difficult to insert/integrate new emerging courses within this paradigm. Asian theological educators must thus seriously engage in developing curricula relevant to Asian Christian context, since majority of Christians are from socially and economically poor backgrounds. We cannot talk about transformative theological education without addressing the problem and issues faced by the people in the margins. The issues, problems and context of the people in the margins are crucial intransformative education. This calls for restructuring or developing alternative theological curriculums viable to Asian realities as life-affirming and transformative.

The participants also recognized that participation and contribution of women in theological education is a serious concern though attempts have been made by many theological institutions to promote women in theological education. It is affirmed that more effort needs to be done in pedagogical and curricula areas. Theological fraternity should continue to give priority to women’s leadership development.

The leaders of theological education stakeholders affirmed that respect, openness and solidarity are key to healthy growth. The participants vowed to continue working together towards a structure where institutions collaborate for sustainability and ensuring quality theological education in Asia and come together in a common platform to promote mutual learning and collaboration, resources sharing and contextualization of theological education. The participants also affirmed that considering Asian economic, cultural and multi-religious context, the respective constituent bodies launch a pilot curricula program to develop innovative and transformative curriculum in Asian context. It was also agreed to promote more exchange programs among for doctoral students and faculties in Asia and Pacific by all the stakeholders.

The participants recognized the importance of ecumenical partner’s support in faculty development especially those who are interested in community transformative studies. Asian colleges will be more benefitted if partners give priority to those scholars who are interested to do research on Asian issues in Asia. The participants further identified theological resources and digital library resources sharing as priority in which the support of mission partners are crucial. The new community transformative curricula needs to be accompanied by teacher’s institute and production of theological resource books in Asia. We urge FTESEA to give priorities in those initiatives. The participants of the conference concluded with a note of gratitude to FTESEA and PTCA for their continued commitment, support and partnership in strengthening contextualization of theological education and theology in Asia.

Reported by Limatula Longkumer
Dean of Research/SATHRI
Senate of Serampore College