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Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia Records

Call Number: RG 180

Scope and Contents

There are additional archives of the FTESEA at the United Methodist Church archives in Madison, New Jersey.

Series I, Administrative Records, is divided into six subseries representing different eras of FTESEA leadership: a) Legal and predecessor documents; b) John R. Fleming era files; c) Alan Thomson era files; d) Ivy Chou era files; e) Marvin D. Hoff era files; f) H. S. Wilson era files. The first sub-series contains records of the Board of Founders of Nanking Theological Seminary and early legal documents of the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia. The administrative records include records of FTESEA meetings, including agendas, minutes, reports, and associated financial records, as well as correspondence and memos of the executive directors. These records provide valuable insight into the reestablishment of the Christian church and theological education in China.

Series II, Financial Records, includes financial records such as audits, tax records, and fund requests. Additional information about grants disbursed and other expenses is present in the annual meeting materials found in Series I. Series III contains photographs of FTESEA-related individuals and events. Series IV includes minutes and handbooks of the Association for Theological Education in South East Asia (previously known as Association of Theological Schools in Southeast Asia) as well as material related to some of its member institutions. Series V includes copies of the publications that the FTESEA has sponsored as well as some related to its partners.


  • 1937-2011


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by the FTESEA


  1. I. Administrative Records, 1937-2010
  2. II. Financial Records, 1980-2009
  3. III. Audio-visual Materials, ca.1974-2010
  4. IV. ATSSEA / ATESEA Resources, 1958-2009
  5. V. Publications, 1956-2010


16.5 Linear Feet (39 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


This collection includes administrative records of the FTESEA and its predecessor organization, the Board of Founders of Nanking Theological Seminary, dating from 1937 to 2011. It also includes publications of the FTESEA, photographs, financial records, and resources from the ATSSEA (Association of Theological Schools in South-East Asia/ Association for Theological Education in South East Asia). The Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia supports Christian theological education in Southeast Asia in a variety of ways including grants to institutions and projects, scholarships, consultations, and publications. Funds initially devoted to the work of Nanking Theological Seminary were expanded to theological education institutions outside of China following the closure of China to mission work in 1949. As China has become more open to the West, FTESEA has resumed programs supporting theological education there.

Biographical / Historical

The Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia (Dong nan Ya shen xue jiao yu ji jin hui) was established in 1963 as the successor organization to the Board of Founders of Nanking Theological Seminary, which was founded in 1937. The original charter of the Nanking Theological Seminary was amended in 1952 to expand the purposes of the organization to include support of theological education in China and other parts of Asia, but the name of the corporation was not formally changed until 1963. The FTESEA was entrusted with disbursement of the annual interests of the Swope-Wendel Fund, which had been established to support the work of Nanking Theological Seminary. When it became impossible to send funds to China after 1949, legal action was taken to redirect the use of the Fund. The Board of Trustees of the FTESEA is constituted of representatives from mission boards in North America and members at large. The FTESEA has a longstanding relationship with the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, the legal custodian of the Swope-Wendel Fund.

Frank T. Cartwright, Secretary for China, Japan, Korea and East Asia of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal church, was elected Secretary (later called Executive Secretary) of the Board of Founders of Nanking Theological Seminary in 1937 and served until his retirement in 1961. From the late 1930s until late 1960s the Board of Founders (FTESEA after 1963) had a clerical office in New York, which was used by its Secretary and by Henry Pitney Van Dusen, who served as the president of the Board of Founders, and was the first president of FTESEA, serving from 1952 to 1970.

From 1952 to 1957, C. Stanley Smith served as the Board of Founders' Field Representative in South East Asia, with his office in Bangkok for the first year and then in Singapore. John R. Fleming, a Church of Scotland missionary, was appointed Field Representative in 1957 and the office continued in Singapore. When Frank Cartwright retired in 1961, Fleming was appointed Executive Secretary. The official office of the Board of Founders (FTESEA after 1963) was moved to Singapore and a part-time clerical office continued in New York. When the Association of Theological Schools in South East Asia (ATSSEA) was formed in 1959, Fleming was appointed its Executive Director. When Fleming returned to Scotland in 1967, Kosuke Koyama was apppointed ATSSEA Executive Director and Alan Thomson was appointed FTESEA Executive Director, with their offices in Singapore.

When Alan Thomson returned to the U.S. in 1972, Ivy Chou, from Malaysia, was appointed by the FTESEA and the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches to be the Executive Director of the Joint South East Asia office in Bromiley, England. When Chou retired in 1977, Marvin D. Hoff, Secretary for Operations and Finance in the Reformed Church of America, was appointed Interim FTESEA Executive Director. From 1977 to 1994 Marvin D. Hoff served as part-time Executive Director while continuing his work as administrator and pastor in the Reformed Church in America, and later as president of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. He became fulltime director in 1994.

Beginning in the mid 1970s there was considerable discussion regarding the appropriate relationship of the FTESEA with related organizations such as the Association of Theological Schools in Southeast Asia (ATSSEA), the Christian Council of Asia (CCA), and the World Council of Churches' Programme on Theological Education (PTE), which was the successor to the Theological Education Fund. The ATSSEA was formed in 1958 with Stanley Smith as its first director; in 1978 it had a membership of forty institutions.

In 1975, the Joint Regional Planning Commission (JRPC) was established as an experimental joint body of the ATSSEA and the FTESEA, to coordinate the disbursement of grants to member schoolsof ATSSEA. The JRPC was reconstituted as the Resource Commission of the ATSSEA in 1977. It continued to process and recommend funding requests, serving as a regional screening agency for the FTESEA. The FTESEA has also funded requests from other organizations. In the late 1970s ATSSEA changed its name to the Association for Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA).

As China became more open to the West, the FTESEA resumed support of theological education there. In 1979 the FTESEA began a program of sending books to build up the library at the Nanjing University Center for the Study of World Religions and Nanjing Theological Seminary. Frank and Ruth Cooley served as temporary part time staff for this project. In 1985 FTESEA initiated support of The Chinese Theological Review, an English language journal translating materials written in Chinese by Chinese and publishing the Nanjing Theological Review in traditional Chinese characters with articles from Nanjing's theological journal.

Marvin D. Hoff retired as Executive Director in December 2006 and was succeeded by H.S. Wilson.

More information about the FTESEA is available in Supporting Asian Christianity's transition from mission to church : a history of the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia edited by Samuel C. Pearson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010.

Guide to the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia Records
Compiled by Sarah Scherschligt and Martha Lund Smalley
2001, 2011, 2015
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

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