Who Is the ATA?
The Asia Theological Association (ATA) is a body of theological institutions, committed to the evangelical faith and scholarship, and networking together to serve the Church in equipping God’s people for the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The ATA was established in 1970 as a direct response to the need expressed at several Asia-wide conferences and consultations. Since then, it has grown into a movement committed to serving its members in the development of evangelical biblical theology by strengthening interaction, enhancing scholarship, promoting academic excellence, fostering spiritual and ministerial formation and mobilizing resources to fulfil God’s global mission within diverse Asian cultures. ATA seeks to:
- Strengthen interaction through inter-institutional fellowship and programs, regional and continental activities and faculty and student exchange programs.
- Enhance scholarship through consultations, workshops, seminars, publications and research fellowships.
- Promote academic excellence through accreditation standards, faculty and curriculum development.
- Foster spiritual and ministerial formation by providing mentor models and encouraging the development of ministerial skills and a Christian ethos.
- Mobilize resources through library development, information technology and infra-structural development.
Evaluation and Accreditation Services
The ATA is primarily a regional accrediting agency and a member of the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education. The ATA seeks to facilitate the improvement of the quality of educational programs of its members through accreditation of programs, including those that are residential, extension or a combination of systems.
The accreditation process involves the preparation of a self-study by the institution, followed by an evaluation visit by a team of theologians and educators, and, finally, the approval of the Commission on Accreditation and Educational Development. The accreditation model that ATA has adopted is based on four key principles:
- Values. Values are central to the design and practice of education. Throughout the accreditation process, an attempt is made to focus attention as much on why policies or practices are observed, as on the policies and practices themselves. Four categories of values inform the accreditation philosophy. These are administrative values, relational values, theological values and educational values.
- Process. A basic premise is that the accreditation process should lead to significant institutional improvement. Therefore, it is expected that the self-evaluation study that institutions do as part of the evaluation process will reveal areas that require further attention. In fact, this self-evaluation is a fundamental part of the evaluation process and can provide important benefits.
- Cooperation. Another premise is that the accreditation process should involve both the accrediting agency and those who are stakeholders in the programmes being evaluated. While roles are different, cooperation in the evaluation process affords the surest route to just and significant conclusions.
- Prayer. Evaluation of theological education should be undertaken prayerfully, just as all ministry training is undertaken. Prayer should be part of every step in the evaluation and accreditation process.
As an educational development agency, ATA seeks to facilitate the following consultancy services:
- Organizational structure has to do with developing school structures and cultures that best facilitate the formation of Christian ministers. ATA accepts requests to coach institutions through the process of institutional renewal and organizational change.
- Curricula and program development are more than the arrangement of courses and the shaping of syllabi. The objective is to develop a comprehensive program relevant to the lives and ministries of students. ATA may be requested to assist faculty of the various disciplines in updating and expanding curricula.
- Vision is essential if schools are serious about relevant ministries. ATA may be requested to guide participants through a strategic planning cycle for their institution.
- Library development involves both policies guiding management and acquisitions as well as personnel development for the efficient operation of library resources. ATA may be requested to help by examining libraries, conferring with librarians and making recommendations for development.
- Faculty development recognizes that teachers are the greatest resource of the school. ATA may be requested to confer with the faculty and dean and make recommendations for faculty development programs and policies.
- Governance has to do with the exercise of authority and control and the system whereby authority is controlled and distributed. ATA may be requested to work with the board and CEO in shaping patterns of governance for institutional development.
- Finance ties directly to good stewardship. The objective is to review and improve the financial management and capacity of the organization. ATA may be requested to work with the institution’s business office in reviewing and developing practices of financial stewardship.
- Leadership development for the church is a principal aim of theological education. ATA may be requested to provide guidance for faculty and administration in addressing principles of leadership development through modelling, mentoring, coursework, internship and other curricular activities.
- Teaching methodologies shape the learning experience. ATA may be requested to lead a seminar or clinic to improve teaching methodologies and to establishing ongoing peer-based, in-service teacher development programmes.
- Self-reliance and interdependence involve two forms of capacity building in institutions. ATA may be requested to help the school explore fund-raising and communication strategies as well as possibilities for alliances and networks.
The General Assembly 2007
The ATA meets in general assembly once every three years, and the next general assembly is scheduled to be held 6-10 August 2007 at The Legend Villas in Manila, Philippines.
The theme is “The Prophetic Voice of the Gospel in Contemporary Asia” and the sub-themes and proposed speakers will be:
- Globalization and Its Effects in the Asian Context (Ben Pwee, Singapore)
- Theological Education in the Context of Persecution (David Wang, Hong Kong)
- Shifting Paradigms in Theological Education (Vinay Samuel, India)
- Theological Education for the Marketplace—Desirable Options (Quek Swee Hwa, Singapore)
- Social and Environmental Concerns in Theological Education (Joseph Suico, Philippines)
- The role of Christians in the task of nation-building in a context of religious plurality (Rev. Wong Kim Kong, Malaysia)
The ATA is committed to theological education and ministerial training that is evangelical and biblical in theology and relevant to the context. The membership of the association is scattered all across Asia, in countries that are throbbing with life, and varied in context. It is in this light that the theme and sub-themes can be seen as very relevant and contemporary.
More information on the Asia Theological Association is available at www.ataasia.com.