About CETA

The Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association serves as the Theological Commission of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean. The Evangelical Association is a member organization of the World Evangelical Fellowship.

Seminars, workshops and conferences are held in conjunction with the biennial meetings. These have served as catalysts for exploring unique Caribbean theological educational problems and programs and developing Caribbean theological thought.

Executive Committee

  • President: Dr. Dieumeme Noelliste | president@ceta-edu.org
  • Vice President: Dr. Bryan Wallace
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Dr. Matt Ayars | sectres@ceta-edu.org
  • Theological Commission Coordinator: Dr. Abson Joseph | theologicalcommission@ceta-edu.org
  • Accreditation Commission Coordinator: Dr. Errol Joseph | accreditation@ceta-edu.org
  • Member at Large: Rev. John Smith
  • Member at Large: Dr. Yves Bergeron
  • Member at Large: Dr. James Zifus

Background

The Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association was born in the early 1970s when a few theologians from the region met informally to compare notes. Within a very short time, college administrators from wider territories expressed an interest in an organized fellowship with regular times for meeting. The Association was officially launched in 1973 at Victory Heights Camp, Trinidad. It was then known as the Caribbean Association of Bible Colleges (CABC). Representatives from 21 training institutions scattered over 11 different territories were Involved in the inauguration. These represented schools from the four language areas.

Two previous meetings held at Moorlands Camp, Jamaica, in 1971 and 1972 paved the way for the organization by setting goals for the Association and establishing the constitutional framework. The broad regional interest from the outset was reflected in the participants in the first planning meeting of 1971 held in Jamaica. Administrators representing 20 colleges came from 8 territories, representing 3 language areas.

Dr. A. Wingrove Taylor (Barbados) was elected as president at the inaugural meeting and continued to serve in this capacity until 1989. Upon his retirement, he was succeeded by Dr. Clive Afflick (Jamaica) who served until 1991. The current president is Dr. Dieumeme Noelliste, president of the Jamaica Theological Seminary and the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology. The first Secretary-Treasurer was Rev. Bobby Clinton of Jamaica Bible College. The current Secretary-Treasurer is Rev. Errol Joseph of the Open Bible Institute in Trinidad and he has served in that capacity since 1993.

In 1985, the name of the Association was changed from the Caribbean Association of Bible Colleges to the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association to better reflect its broadening services of graduate education and accreditation at all levels. In 1980, CETA became one of the five regional founding members of the International Council of Accrediting Agencies for evangelical theological education. This Council operates under the sponsorship of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Fellowship. The regional associations are the Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA), Asia Theological Association (ATA), American Association of Bible Colleges (AABC), European Evangelical Accrediting Association (EEAA) and the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association (CETA).

The need for a graduate seminary for the Caribbean was expressed in the founding meeting of CETA in 1973. However, it was not until the 1981 Association Meeting in Puerto Rico that a committee was set up to do a feasibility study determining the extent of this need. The study resulted in official action being taken in 1983 during the annual Association Meeting to accept the proposed Memorandum and Articles of Association for a new graduate school. In September 1986, the new Caribbean Graduate School of Theology was launched in Kingston, Jamaica, in conjunction with the Jamaica Theological Seminary.

History of Bible Institutes

Bible Colleges were first established in the late1880’s to prepare lay and semiprofessional workers for the church. A. B. Simpson, founder of Nyack Missionary Training Institute (1881), was concerned primarily for the unenlightened peoples of the world and the preparation of missionaries to help meet their needs. Dwight L. Moody, founder of Moody Bible Institute (1886), directed his attention to the urban centers of America as well as to foreign lands. The colleges they founded became the pattern for a new expression in higher education.

Although it is impossible to obtain an accurate count of the Bible colleges in North America today, an estimate of 600 is probably conservative. Many missionaries, pastors, evangelists, Christian education directors, church musicians, and others have been educated in a Bible college.

From the beginning, the Bible college movement has been dynamic — not only in the rapid multiplication of its colleges, but in the expansion of its programs. This dynamism is apparent in the effort to improve the quality of education by extending two-year courses to three, four, and five years, making admissions requirements more stringent, increasing the general studies component and implementing other changes.

Caribbean Bible Colleges

The Bible college movement in the Caribbean appears to have emerged from the need for training for ministry in the region. While the extent of the evangelical Bible college movement in the Caribbean is unclear, colleges exist in the four major language groups—English, Spanish, French and Dutch. Different lists have identified as many as 89 such schools. Many of these schools were established by denominational bodies and in collaboration with missionaries and have training for ministry as their primary objective. The curricula of these schools follow the pattern of the traditional bible college including biblical, theological, general and professional studies and emphasize spiritual formation and practical ministry. The schools offer programmes lasting between one and four years leading to a certificate, diploma, baccalaureate or masters degree through traditional and non-traditional delivery systems.

A Bible College Education

Today’s Bible college, whatever majors it offers and whether located in the Caribbean or elsewhere, requires all students to complete course work in at least three areas — biblical/theological, general, and professional studies. Most programs are four years in length, although one-, two-, three- and five-year programs are also available.

Biblical/Theological Studies. A major in biblical/theological studies is required of all students enrolled in church vocational programs. At least a minor is required of all other students. The goal is to help students think and act biblically as they seek to make an impact on the segment of society in which God has placed them.

General Studies. Besides developing college-level communications skills, general studies enable students to gain a broad knowledge of the created realm and of the human experience. It also enables students to grapple with the worldviews of those to whom they will be ministering.

Professional Studies. This segment of the curriculum assists students in developing ministry skills, whether they are preparing for vocational or lay ministry.

Christian Service. Bible colleges require students to be actively involved in some aspect of ministry. To become involved firsthand in the lives of those around them is the model that Jesus provided for the Twelve.