Continental Theological Seminary:
Equipping students to reach the world
By Charity Sites
Its humble beginning was in a stable. Now, in St.
Pieters-Leeuw near Brussels, Belgium, Continental Theological Seminary
ministers from a beautiful building amid a picturesque landscape. But while its
surroundings have changed, it has never wavered from its purpose: to prepare
men and women for Pentecostal ministry.
In more than 70 countries around the world, CTS graduates
are ministering as pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries and church
leaders. In at least 15 of those countries, CTS alumni have been named to serve
in executive leadership or as Bible school directors.
“As I travel and visit places, I constantly find pastors and
leaders who graduated from CTS,” says Dr. Joseph Dimitrov, CTS president. “This
speaks a lot about the success of the initial vision that still goes on today.”
In 1959, Charles Greenaway and Alfred Amitie, a
French-Belgian pastor, had a vision to train ministers, missionaries and
evangelists in Europe by combining missions with education. A small group of
students responded, and CTS was birthed. Now, 50 years later, it continues to
carry out the vision of its founders by providing Pentecostal training for
students from around the world. Since its beginning, the school has graduated
more than 720 students to serve the Lord and His kingdom in various areas of
The Many Faces of CTS
One word — diversity — describes CTS and its
ministry. Both the student body and the faculty represent as many as 30 nations
and cultures. This diversity brings a vital international perspective to the
school, giving students the opportunity to live and learn with people of many
Students come from across Europe, as well as Asia, North and
South America, and Africa. Because programs are offered in French, CTS draws
many students from French-speaking countries.
“Many African churches and national movements prefer to send
potential leaders to study in an international environment,” explains Dimitrov.
“That way, the students will return better prepared and have a greater
understanding of multiple cultures and perspectives.”
A New Leader
As CTS grows, its international reach also continues to
expand. This is significantly reflected by Dimitrov’s recent appointment as
Born in Bulgaria, he grew up during the years of strict
communism. Because he was a believer and ministered in a church context, he was
somewhat ostracized. He attended Sofia Technical University in Sofia, the
nation’s capital, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical
science, specializing in intellectual property law.
A renowned scholar, he followed his secular education by
receiving a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and master’s in theological
studies from CTS. He then received his Ph.D. majoring in historical theology
from the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, Belgium. He served as head
translator and general editor for the Bulgarian New Testament Open Bible, and
currently serves as supervisor for the University of Wales-Bangor Ph.D. program
offered at CTS, as well as president of Evangelical Theological University in
Bulgaria. An accomplished author, he has written many articles that have been
published in various theological journals. He and his wife, Iveta, have three
children, Pavel, Carina and Benita.
Dimitrov has served on the CTS faculty for 14 years, and was
named dean/vice president of education in 1999. Last year he was unanimously
approved as president.
“Joseph Dimitrov is a spiritual giant,” says Greg Mundis,
regional director for Europe and chairman of the CTS board of directors. “He is
humble, focused and committed to CTS, its mission statement and its goals.”
A Fresh Vision
Along with the school’s new leadership come new ideas and
initiative. President Dimitrov describes the future of CTS as an “ever-growing
vision.” And while many changes have taken place within the last 10 years, more
exciting developments are under way.
To broaden the academic program, leaders plan to implement
several new academic degrees, including Christian counseling and Christian
leadership — two degrees that are not generally offered in Europe,
especially in Pentecostal Bible institutions.
“There is great potential in offering these degrees,” says
Dimitrov, “They will generate great interest from among European
To increase opportunities for students to attend the school,
leaders plan to expand beyond CTS’ main campus location and establish centers
“Because of its accreditation and validation with the
University of Wales,” explains Dimitrov, “CTS has the potential to look beyond
our facilities and help local churches and Bible schools, being careful to
respect their own particular interests.”
To further develop student resources, an expansion of the
school’s learning center is being planned.
“We have one of the largest evangelical libraries on the
continent of Europe, with more than 45,000 volumes,” says Dimitrov. “We want to
increase this by establishing a new learning center that will incorporate the
existing library’s assets with information technology, making the school a
center for advanced theological studies.”
While the school considers and plans for several changes,
its leaders are committed to continuing the “Europeanization” of the school.
Initially, CTS focused on a strong “American” style of education. But during
the last 10 years, the board has sought to increase the number of European
teachers and administrative leaders, as well as adopt a format that is more
European in scope. Continuing this process will bring the school closer to
European churches and ministers.
“This is one of the reasons we want to establish learning
centers outside of the CTS location,” says Dimitrov. “It’s all part of
continuing the Europeanization process.”
Through Dimitrov’s leadership and the dedication of gifted
faculty members, these goals will help CTS extend its reach in training
A Spirit-led Future
“No matter how much CTS grows and the vision develops, the
original idea of combining missions and education will continue,” says
Dimitrov. “CTS has been and will remain a ‘sending school’ — a
Pentecostal learning center where training is primarily driven by a spiritual
mandate and where the workshop for sharpening the tools is found in the midst
of the harvest field.”
As CTS prepares to move into the future, its potential for
influence and effectiveness has never been stronger. With a new leader, fresh
vision and continued Spirit-led guidance, it will produce fruit that will help
transform Europe and beyond.
CHARITY SITES is editorial coordinator of AG World Missions
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.