GATE Founding & Leadership

GATE's Origin: GATE was founded in 2003 by Duane Elmer, Ralph Enlow, Robert Ferris, and John Lillis. All are experienced educators, theologically trained, have earned doctorates in education, have held teaching and leadership positions in theological schools, and have extensive cross-cultural experience. From the beginning, GATE's founders have been committed to equipping Majority World educators to offer the GATE training in the regions where they serve.


Keeping up with Demand: As requests for the GATE training increased worldwide, the need for more trained GATE facilitators became obvious. In 2012, three new GATE Associates were added to the team: John Jusu (Africa Christian University, Nairobi) from Sierra Leone; Joanna Feliciano-Soberano (Asian Theological Seminary, Manila) from the Philippines; and Gary Griffith (United World Mission Theological Education Initiative), an American who lived and taught in Bulgaria for 18 years.


Training Worldwide Regional Associates: As demand for GATE continued to increase, planning began to expand training to equip more theological educators from the regions where GATE was already working. In 2013, GATE's "Train the Trainers" (T3) program was initiated to run in tandem with workshops being offered, offering trainees the opportunity to observe workshops in action while training to present the workshops themselves. The result of the T3 program that began in 2013 has been, to date, nine new GATE Associates from Latin America and the Caribbean and fifteen from T3 trainings begun in the Philippines and East Africa in 2014. Identifying potential trainees in current workshops and training them to lead future workshops is now an ongoing part of GATE's development.


Passing on the Baton of Leadership: In 2017, with the completion of the training of the first group of Majority World GATE Associates, GATE's founders and Senior Associates stepped back from active involvement and transitioned the leadership of GATE to a new international GATE Global Leadership Team that today consists of Josue Fernandez (Argentina), Gary Griffith (USA), John Jusu (Sierra Leone/Kenya), Theresa Lua (Philippines), and Joanna Feliciano-Soberano (Philippines).

The Original Challenge

In Budapest, Hungary in 2003, a gathering of about thirty pastors and seminary leaders dialogued with a team of educators from the United States. The consensus among the East Europeans was that current theological education was not adequately equipping pastors to meet the needs of the church, nor was it addressing the problems of culture, nor speaking relevantly to the emerging generation. The meeting was summarized by Nik Nedelchev, then President of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute as well as President of the European Evangelical Alliance. Nedelchev said, "We imported the best theological education models from the West and they are not doing the job of training our pastors." Although Nedelchev was voicing the experience of these East Europeans, the problem is not regional; it exists throughout the Majority World. This challenge was one of the catalysts moving Elmer, Enlow, Ferris & Lillis to develop a training program to equip Majority World theological educators to better prepare future pastors to serve the church. The result was the four-year GATE curriculum, designed to address this need.