West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS) started in April, 1989, when a group of Nigerian and expatriate Christian leaders met to consider the needs of the Church in Nigeria and in particular to determine how to provide sound theological training to as many pastors as possible. Led by Rev. Gary S. Maxey of the US, the group moved quickly to establish a strong, academically competent, non-denominational theological seminary, now known as WATS.
For its first twelve years the seminary (first known as Wesley International Bible College, and later as Wesley International Theological Seminary) was located in Owerri, Imo State, in eastern Nigeria. In 2000 the governing Council voted to change the name of the institution to West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS). In 2001, the seminary took a giant stride by relocating to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa.
The growth of WATS has been significant since it first opened its doors, and over the years more than 1,000 pastors and church leaders have been trained including over 200 missionaries sent into Africa, North America, Europe and Asia. Because WATS is non-denominational, it has attracted students and ethnic groups from a broad spectrum of churches, language groups and countries. At any given moment WATS usually has students from at least:
- Thirty of Nigeria´s states,
- Over forty native languages,
- Ten or more other African countries,
- and over eighty different church groups
West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS) serves one of the fastest-growing segments of the Christian Church in the world, and it focuses squarely on the two greatest needs of the African Church: leadership development and discipleship of believers. WATS offers two Bachelor and four Masters degree programmes. The mission of WATS is:
“To train men and women for holy living, for carrying the Gospel to the unreached, and for catalyzing national spiritual awakening.”
WATS is committed to the following core values:
Scripture: We value the Holy Bible as the divinely revealed Word of God that gives us guidance for our personal lives and encouragement to work together in redeeming our broken world.
Holiness: We value the scriptural call for all believers to live lives of personal holiness that contributes to a society that brings honor to God and makes for peaceful social relationships.
Mission: We value the scriptural call to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations” and therefore position ourselves individually and corporately to fulfill this Great Commission both through personal evangelism and global mission.
Global: Both in scope of outreach and breadth of teaching personnel, we see the influence of WATS reaching beyond the boundaries of Nigeria to include areas all around the world.
Community: We value the scriptural call to “love one another as Christ has loved you” and commit ourselves to enriching the community of faith through mutual understanding, respect, discipleship accountability, and enthusiastic caring.
Learning: As a “learning organization,” we value the opportunity to learn how to better equip men and women for Christian leadership.
Excellence: We value the call to honor God through continually seeking to elevate the quality of our work, our processes, and our products.
Diversity: As a non-denominational seminary, WATS pursues diversity among its students, faculty and staff. We serve the global church while remaining faithful to our doctrinal statement and our Wesleyan heritage.
Spiritual Formation: WATS is a worshipping community that places value on spiritual formation. We believe spiritual and academic pursuit should be pursued together. We emphasize personal and community formation by providing a rich environment and activities that provides formational opportunities to students, faculty and staff.