History, Mission, Goals, and Student Life

A Brief History

West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS) traces its history to a historic visit to Owerri, Imo State, in April 1989, by a group of Nigerian and expatriate Christian leaders led by Rev. and Rev. (Mrs) Gary S. Maxey of USA. Prior to that, they had worked successfully in religious education in Port Harcourt for seven (7) years. The April 1989 trip to Owerri led to a decision to move quickly to establish a strong and academically competent theological seminary in Owerri.

WATS is a response to the need to help train the thousands of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and teachers of Christian religion in Nigeria, as well as in other African countries, that have in adequate opportunities for sound theological training. Among the original goals of WATS was the launching of a two-year Christian Worker’s Certificate and diploma programmes, and a four-year degree programme – all with high academic standards.

In later years WATS has developed other programmes, including the Church Planting Institute, various computer programmes, the International School of Evangelism, the Institute of Christian Studies (ICS), and – most recently – three Masters’ programmes.

In later years WATS has developed other programmes, including the Church Planting Institute, various computer programmes, the International School of Evangelism, the Institute of Christian Studies (ICS), and – most recently – three Master’s programmes.

WATS began its physical growth in Orji, Owerri, with the renting of a five – bungalow staff compound and a four- storey multi-purpose building at 289 Okigwe Road, on one of the major roads in Owerri. Subsequently, the seminary added other multi-storey buildings contiguous to the first buildings – a three-storey facility used for the operation of Wesley International School (the WATS – sponsored nursery and primary school), a four-storey facility providing housing for bookshop, business centre, administrative offices and computer school facilities, and a three-storey for student housing. With the acquisition of these facilities WATS became well-equipped to handle student body of up to 400 students.

Notable Highlights

WATS has achieved a number of remarkable distinctions in its short history.

1990 the Nigerian army approved WATS for training of chaplains.

In 1991, WATS launched the pioneering church planting Institute which has sent hundreds of church planters into areas of the country previously unreached by the gospel.

In 1992, WATS affiliated its diploma and first degree programs at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Also, that year the seminary was recognized by the Nigerian army for the training of chaplains.

In 1994, WAT took over the operation of the International School of Evangelism (ISE) from Evangelism Resources. ISE had operated in Lagos for two years before coming to Owerri. ISE was charged with training denominational leaders of evangelism.

In 1996 WATS governing Council approved a timetable for the beginning of Master’s programmes.

In 1999, the WATS Governing Council made its decision to move the seminary to Lagos.

In 2001 WATS entered into a substantial partnership with Asbury Theological Seminary of Wilmore, Kentucky, USA.

WATS has already attracted students from a broad spectrum of Nigerian Christian denominations, ethnic groups and from outside the country. During a recently completed semester WATS had students from thirty (30) of Nigerian States,  from over forty (40) language groups, and  from ten (10) other African countries, and from well over eighty different church groups.

WATS was until 13 September 1996 known as Wesley International Bible College; thereafter until 1 June 2001 it was known as Wesley International Theological Seminary.

Affiliation and Accreditation

Since 1992 the WATS diploma and degree programs have been affiliated with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. WATS enjoys a corresponding relationship with the accrediting council for theological education in Africa (ACTEA).  Since June 1998 it has been a charter member of the Nigeria Theological Education Council (NITEC), through which it is seeking accreditation through the Accrediting Commission for Theological Education in Nigeria (ACTEN).

WATS has sought to establish credit ability in the international academic community. Accordingly, it has established close working relationships with both Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, USA, and Asbury Theological Seminary, in Wilmore, Kentucky, USA – for the purpose of Masters Studies. Neither of these relationships involved formal affiliation, though exchange of teaching faculty and various forms of academic consultancy are involved.

Campus location

In 2000 the governing Council voted to change the name of the institution to West Africa theological seminary (WATS).  In 2001 the seminary made a giant stride by relocating to Lagos Nigeria’s commercial capital and the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa. It is located at 35/37 International Airport Road, Mafoluku Junction Bus Stop, Lagos, just three minutes’ drive from the International Airport.