Asbury Seminary’s commitment to expanding our global vision is reflected in the variety of partnerships we are forming with other Christian educational institutions around the world. As part of the 2023 Strategic Plan, the Seminary has committed to sustainable bilateral partnerships of mutual learning, encouragement, and collaboration toward common Kingdom goals. Through these relationships we seek not only wider fields of service, but also a deeper awareness of what God is doing globally that will permeate every aspect of Asbury Seminary’s institutional culture.
Why Global Partnerships?
There are 1.9 billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus. To reach these people, we are exploring innovative and faithful ways to train workers to share God’s love, and build Christian communities in every part of the world. We believe that planting new churches, communities committed to sharing life together and ministering in the name of Jesus, is the best way to evangelize the world. In order to plant faithful and hospitable new churches we must train and equip laborers for this good work. Likewise, we learn to strengthen churches that already exist when we listen to other members of Christ’s body and learn to see God as the God of all the nations.
It is with these concerns in mind that President Timothy C. Tennent shares seven reasons why institutional partnerships are vital for the global Church.
- The cross-cultural encounters between our faculty, staff, and students will equip them to occupy a global platform and will stimulate deeper theological reflection.
- These relationships will force us to move beyond simplistic understandings of the gospel and expose many places where we in the West have domesticated the gospel. Seeing Christianity from a global perspective forces us to rethink Christianity and how it responds to major global challenges such as poverty, the challenge of major world religions, structural economic sin, and so forth.
- Global partnerships will enable Asbury Seminary to move beyond seeing itself as merely a teaching institution and move to also becoming a learning institution. Lasting and productive partnerships require deeper levels of humility and patience, particularly in the area of listening. Learning how to learn, especially from those we sometimes subconsciously regard as inferior, demands deep spiritual change and repentance, as well as intellectual adjustment. It takes humility to turn a class over to a visiting professor who may not have published books, but brings a wealth of global experience to our students.
- Global partnerships will challenge our home culture’s understanding of success and force us to rely more fully on divine resources, providence, and power.
- As our professors discover the global Church more intimately, they will inevitably learn things about their own discipline, such as church history or theology that were not previously evident. We have told church history from the perspective of the Western struggle with the Roman Empire for so long, we forget how different that story looks if you are form the Han or Indic civilization where the unfolding of church history looks very different. Students form other countries challenge us with new questions and a broader frame of experiences through which they approach the gospel and specific texts of Scripture, forcing deeper reflection. This, in turn, will influence our teaching and learning on both of our campuses.
- As faculty gain more of a vision for the needs and contributions of the global Church, they will become better equipped for encouraging mission awareness and calling in students. Ideally, professors would come to view students as potential emissaries of the Kingdom who will return to their context more fully prepared to preach and teach the gospel.
- Finally, we are fully embracing what it means to be a missional Christian. We are devoting our lives and resources to the end to “make disciples of every nation.” This is really about the great commission, which surely must have been at the forefront of H.C. Morrison’s vision when he founded this institution to “spread scriptural holiness throughout the world.”
How Global Partnerships Work
Visualize a bridge with two-way traffic. A bridge serves as precisely the right metaphor for the Seminary’s global partnerships. Each partnership involves a full two-way exchange between the two institutions in four main areas.
- Teachers cross the bridge in both directions. Asbury Seminary faculty are being sent to teach courses in our partner institutions and, in turn, their faculty come to teach an intensive classes either at our Wilmore or Florida Dunnam campuses.
- Students will also be invited to cross the bridge. From our side, this will mostly mean sending an entire study class to a partnership site with one of our professors to be taught right alongside the students in the host seminary. We will be offering these cross-cultural experience courses every year.
- Resources will be exchanged across the bridge. For instance, we are sending our librarian, Paul Tippey, to our partner schools to train their librarians and to find ways that we can, through digital technology, strengthen the libraries of these institutions. We will be sending relatively inexpensive Kindles from our library to theirs, loaded with hundreds of theological books. Paul can literally walk into a library, open his briefcase, and with one hand give a librarian 400 theological books. On their side, they are sharing valuable research with our Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements on the global Church.
- The bridge will allow us to gather leaders for training conferences. We will be hosting several global conferences that will allow us to mutually discuss global Christianity.
Christians are a covenant people, who believe in the power of relationships. Therefore, we know that healthy global partnerships must arise out of relationships, not merely signed documents and Memorandums of Understanding. They must be built around a shared vision, and must be a two-way bridge of mutual commitment and sharing.
Current Global Partners
Asbury Seminary has a number of global partnerships and continues to make more of these crucial connections. Members of our faculty have been teaching abroad for decades, often at the invitation of our countless missionaries and international alumni. We regard these relationships as a unique stewardship as the Holy Spirit uses them to open doors of ministry. Most of our current partnerships are built not only on shared goals but also on deep relational foundations.
Currently we have seven active partnerships and several others being forged.
West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos, Nigeria
Partnership Date: May 2011
Asbury’s relationship with WATS has been built over the years through our faculty serving as guest lectures. Dr. William Udotong, Provost at WATS is a recent Ph.D. graduate of Asbury. Asbury Seminary faculty continue to visit WATS. Currently we are developing a plan for sharing digital library and learning resources.
Africa International University in Nairobi, Kenya
Partnership Date: May 2011
Africa International University includes Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology, one of the first graduate level seminaries in Africa. Asbury Seminary faculty teach regularly as guest lecturers at NEGST, especially in their new Ph.D. and D.Miss. programs. Currently we are developing a plan for sharing digital library and learning resources. We also anticipate hosting members of the NEGST faculty as guest lecturers at Asbury Seminary in the near future, with particular focus on their expertise in addressing the challenges of sharing the gospel in a Muslim context.
Seoul Theological University in Seoul, Korea
Partnership Date: September 2011
Asbury Seminary’s relationship with STU goes back many decades. In fact our current partnership agreement is renewal of an earlier agreement. Asbury Seminary faculty teach and speak regularly at STU. We have also hosted visiting scholars from STU doing sabbatical research here in the United States. A significant number of our Korean Ph.D. students are graduates of STU.
Evangelical Methodist Seminary-University of Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica
Partnership Date: December 2011
The Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica has strong connections with Asbury Seminary through its Bishop Luis Fernando Palomo, a graduate of Asbury Seminary and current Trustee. Asbury Seminary faculty have been closely involved with this new seminary from the very start. Two classes of Asbury Seminary students have participated in a joint study experience, during which they took the first half of the course in the United States then accompanied their professor to Costa Rica to join Costa Rican students for the second half of the course. We anticipate closer connections with this seminary in conjunction with the developing Spanish-language MA at Asbury Seminary’s Florida Dunnam Campus.
Asia Graduate School of Theology in Manila, Philippines
Partnership Date: April 2012
AGST is a unique consortium of 10 seminaries in and around Manila that have chosen to work in partnership for their advanced degree programs. They are pioneers in cooperation and collaboration in theological education, and as such have a lot to teach us in this area. Our partnership with AGST is the fruit of significant relationships built by Dr. Eunice Irwin during her career as a missionary in Manila prior to joining the faculty of the ESJ School. Asbury Seminary faculty are currently collaborating in the new Ph.D. in Holistic Child Development at AGST. Our current relationship includes provisions for Ph.D. students from AGST to spend a semester at Asbury Seminary so they can make use of our library resources and interact with our doctoral students. We also anticipate visiting faculty from AGST as part of a faculty exchange.
Luther W. New Jr. Theological College in Dehra Dun, India
Partnership Date: July 2012
Asbury Seminary’s partnership with NTC was signed on the twenty-fifth anniversary of NTC’s founding. Our president, Timothy Tennent, was there at NTC for the signing, just as he had been there at their first ground-breaking ceremony. He has also taught at NTC every summer for the past twenty-five years. We look forward to developing a student and faculty exchange, as well as exploring ways we can share our digital library and learning resources through this brand new partnership.
One Mission Society (OMS) based in Greenwood, Indiana
Partnership Date: October 2012
This relationship is a renewal and expansion of an earlier agreement. OMS is not a seminary itself, but it has been instrumental in establishing over 30 seminaries around the world. Theological education has always been one of its top priorities. Asbury Seminary looks forward to working with OMS in developing curriculum for cross-cultural ministry training and support for its staff. We are also developing resources to share throughout its broader network of affiliated seminaries and colleges, particularly through an on-line database focused on theological education in the majority world, as well as facilitating the sharing of best practices and proven strategies.