Ecumenical theological education (ETE)

Ecumenical theological education is vital for the future of the global ecumenical movement so that the churches may grow closer. We create opportunities for developing ecumenically-oriented leadership within churches.


Ecumenical theological education is vital for the future of the global ecumenical movement so that the churches may grow closer. The WCC and its partners help create networks of ecumenical theological institutions around the world, which analyse and value the richness of Christianity in diverse contexts. We create opportunities for developing ecumenically-oriented leadership within churches. They are a step towards equal access to theological education for all.

Ecumenical theological education sustains the vibrancy of the ecumenical vision – that all may be one – manifested in faith, communion, witness and service. This becomes important in light of tendencies towards inward-orientation and denominationalism at many theological institutions. 

Ecumenical theological leadership development is central in order to support faculty development, new forms of theological education through learning and participation in global ecumenical events, and targeted theological education projects in the regions.

The Network of Institutions of Higher Ecumenical Theological Education was created in May 2016 by Networking Task Force of the WCC Commission on Ecumenical Education and Formation as a response to changing religious and educational landscape challenges. It provides a space for ecumenical institutions and educators to reflect afresh on what ecumenism is to be. 

The accompaniment of regional associations and institutions of theological education in Africa, Asia, Central Europe and Latin America, is central with regard to the understanding of major trends in the field. Regional associations offer the space for thematic exchanges between the institutions and theological educators and harvest the key areas of debate and the most recent developments. The project also takes part in meetings of the Global Forums of Theological Educators, created in 2016.

Dialogue with evangelical, independent and Pentecostal churches, institutions and associations on theological education is a crosscutting activity and commitment of the project. We continuously engage in dialogue with evangelical/Pentecostal networks through issuing invitations to meetings and events, and through participation in conferences hosted by these partners. A dialogue series has included a dialogue on Migration and Theological Education in 2014 and on Religious Radicalisation and Theological Education in 2016.

There is also support for innovative initiatives, which foster ecumenical learning between evangelical and ecumenically oriented Christians. The collaboration with the Al Mowafaqa Ecumenical Institute of Theology in Rabat, Morocco, an institute providing theological education and formation for Christian students of mainly evangelical orientation in a Muslim majority context, exemplifies this commitment.

Global Ecumenical Theological Institutes held in 2013 (Busan, South Korea) and 2018 (Arusha, Tanzania) offer a new model for an emerging generation of theologians. The Pan African Women’s Ecumenical Empowerment Network launched in 2015 offers leadership capacity development for an audience vital for the ecumenical movement. This network of women of African descent fosters their participation in and their contribution to the ecumenical movement.

Through a mentoring programme launched in 2017, Asian and African women theologians have started an international process of reflection to assist younger women theologians in their advancement in academia, church and society. Tailor-made curriculum development and teaching assistance, and joint conferencing with ecumenical partners, such as the Twin consultation process on Reformation, Education and Transformation in Brazil and Germany (2015 and 2016) are other examples of work in this area.

Regional projects support faculty development in two ways:

  1. Financial contributions to regional ecumenical organizations, national councils of churches and regional associations of theological education in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and Pacific.
  2. Ecumenical theological education activities, events and programmes, as well as multi-year support is provided to strengthen the work of these partners. This commitment is exemplified by faculty development for doctoral/post-doctoral scholars of the regional ecumenical theological education partners. An example of this commitment is the Sarah Chakko Theological Endowment Fund created to mark the end of the Ecumenical Decade – Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998). It is dedicated to enable women, especially from Asia, both lay and ordained, to enroll in theological education programmes ranging from short-term courses to doctoral programmes in various institutions in the world.

Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI)

The Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) 2022 took place in two phases—online and residential—under the theme Christs Love (Re)moves Borders.” GETI 2022 was the third such global ecumenical formation programme the WCC has offered alongside one of its major ecumenical events, after the initial GETI at the 10th Assembly 2013 in Busan, South Korea, and the 2018 GETI in accompaniment of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Arusha, Tanzania.

The participation of emerging theologians from a variety of countries and church traditions has sparked fresh attention to experiential theological formation and engagement within the ecumenical movement. GETI 2022 seeked to build on previous experience to transmit the vibrancy of theological reflection, and to encourage young people to engage ecumenically in local, regional and global contexts as conversant ambassadors.

GETI 2022 was an ecumenical theological education event that will draw about 200 young and emerging ecumenical theologians and educators from a broad spectrum of Christian traditions and all eight regions of the WCC to engage with one another on critical themes of our time. The online phase was from 25 July to 20 August 2022. The residential phase took place at the BWGV Akademiehotel in Karlsruhe, Germany, 28 August – 9 September 2022 in the context of the WCC 11th Assembly. Students admitted to the Bossey Ecumenical Institute for the academic year 2022-23 automatically joined the programme.

The two phases of GETI plenary reflection on the theme Christs Love (Re)moves Borders” led into further exploration the following six themes:

  • Healing Memories: Remembering and Transforming Past and Present Wounds at the Border (Historic-Theological Track)
  • Kairos for Creation: Transcending Boundaries of Anthropocentrism to Affirm the Whole Community of Life (Eco-theological Track)
  • Witness from the Margins: Connecting with, and Holding Space for those at the Border (Practical-Diaconal Track)
  • Engaging with Plurality: Dialoguing with Communities Across Borders (Intercultural-Interreligious Track)
  • Body Politics: Body, Health and Healing; Uprooting Systems that Degrade Bodies at the Border (Just Relations Track)
  • 4th Industrial Revolution & AI: Human Identity in the Context of Global Digitisation (special plenary) 

The programme included a public lecture entitled GETI Goes Public! On Wednesday 7 September 2022, to which an additional 100 guests from academic institutions in Germany were invited.

A brief history of GETI

The Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) was first held at the WCC 10th Assembly in 2013 in Busan, South Korea and was initiated by the WCC-ETE programme. Another GETI followed in 2018, organised around the Conference for World Mission in Arusha, Tanzania.

Viewed retrospectively, GETIs embryonic roots lie in the 2004 World Alliance of Reformed Churches (now WCRC) Assembly that was held in Accra, Ghana. The ripple from Accra carried through to the WCCs 9th Assembly in 2006 in Porto Alegre, Brazil at which a gathering of young ecumenical theologians took place, though it was not termed GETI. Over the years Ecumenical Institutes became a feature in WCRC through its annual Global Theological Institute (GTI). Regional Ecumenical Organisations also commonly hold ecumenical institutes at their assemblies. It is in that spirit that in 2017, GETI17 with a European focus was held in Germany.

GETI gathers young and emerging ecumenical theologians and educators from a broad spectrum of Christian traditions and all eight regions of the WCC to theologically engage with one another on critical theological themes of our time.

GETI aims to enable participants to:

- Strengthen knowledge of current local and global ecumenical themes  

Engage with past, present and future issues in ecumenical discourse

Utilize interdisciplinary approaches for ecumenical studies

Express a theologically informed and contextually grounded ecumenical theology

- Seek constructive solutions for challenges in changing religious and societal landscapes.

Click here to learn more about the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute 2018

Apply for Global Ecumenical Theological Institute 2022!


Rev. Dr. theol. habil. Benjamin Simon

Programme Executive, Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE)

Phone:  +41 22 960 6029, email: [email protected]