At its meeting in 2020, the FTESEA board determined to engage in a strategic visioning process to review the mission and priorities of FTESEA. As a result, the Executive Committee engaged in a series of conversations with FTESEA’s ecumenical associates, reflecting with them on the changed and rapidly changing situation in Asia and the Pacific, including the changes caused by COVID-19. Conversations were held with 1)FTESEA’s historic partners, 2) ecumenical colleagues in Asia, and 3) ecumenical colleagues in Europe/North America. On the basis of the input received and the review of these conversations by the Executive Committee, the mission, vision, and priorities of FTESEA have been amended as follows:
The mission of the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia is to foster the ongoing development of contextual theological thought, education, and formation of Christian leaders in Asia and the Pacific.
FTESEA envisions implementing its mission through partnerships and collaborations, especially in Asia and the Pacific. We seek collaborative relationships with communities and leaders in theological education through their respective theological schools, associations, and movements and through ecumenical theological networks.
FTESEA carries out its mission alongside its historic associates in theological education and formation (Nanjing Union Theological Seminary; the Department of Theological Education of the China Christian Council and the Three-self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM); the Association for Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA); and Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE) and the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches) and other ecumenical theological institutions with which FTESEA has been associated directly or through its historic associates in Asia and the Pacific.
In light of its mission and a spirit of mutuality, FTESEA commits to:
- Initiating and facilitating consultations/conferences/institutes/publications that seek not only to enhance the mission and ministries of theological schools and institutions in Asia and the Pacific but also to enrich global theological education.
- Supporting and serving as a catalyst for theological education that engages the contexts of Asia and the Pacific and is responsive to the conditions and global structures that shape those contexts.
- Advocating with denominations that are represented on the Board and their respective theological schools and institutions for the provision of funds and human resources for innovative programs in theological education in Asia and the Pacific.
- Equipping Christian individuals and communities theologically to support competent and creative leadership in response to the challenges and opportunities in their respective contexts; and
- Funding programs/schools in Asia and the Pacific annually.
FTESEA understands that contextual theological education should be pursued through consistent dialogue and engagement with the experiences, perspectives, and lived realities of people, especially of those on the margins and those resisting the forces of marginalization. Contextualization in Asia-Pacific involves active engagement with rapidly changing social realities, including religious pluralism and multifaith identities, shifting social structures and economic systems, a global pandemic, ideological trends such as fascism and nationalism, secularization, the development of artificial intelligence, and more.
In light of our mission, vision, and commitment to contextual theological education, FTESEA’s strategic priorities are (1) supporting faculty development; (2) promoting women’s leadership; and (3) enhancing the development of digital and print library resources and facilitating the training of librarians in Asia. FTESEA will meet these priorities by:
- Strengthening and developing our relationships with historic and other ecumenical colleagues in Asia, North America, and Switzerland** and supporting the growth of ecumenical networks.
- Facilitating faculty and religious leaders’ engagement with contextual theologies that address pressing challenges, including but not limited to justice, peace, ecology, and religious and cultural pluralism.
- Enhancing ecumenical resources for advanced study by theological scholars, faculty members and graduate students.
- Initiating and facilitating workshops, consultations, institutes, and publications that support women’s leadership, library development, and faculty development.
FTESEA aims to fulfill its mission and vision and meet its priorities by working collaboratively, inclusively, and contextually and by engaging in ongoing self-evaluation.
*At present, the accompaniment of FTESEA in the Pacific is limited to the South Pacific Association of Theological Schools (SPATS), Fiji and the Pacific Theological College in Fiji. ** World Council of Churches and Globethics