The AIIAS African Theological Association (AATA) was founded in May 27, 2007 at the Adventist International Institute of Advance Study (AIIAS). It was established to discuss issues pertaining to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Africa. It is a forum assembling Seventh-day Adventist scholars from Africa mostly, and the rest of the world, to stimulate academic contributions to the work of the denomination on the continent. It also helps provide creative thinking and practical dialogue on issues related to the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at large. Within this rational, AATA’s constitution provides that the association seeks to:

  1. Affirm the fundamental beliefs and teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

  2. Contribute to the growth and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Africa and beyond.

  3. Explore God’s revelation in order to better understand it.

  4. Promote sound biblical scholarship and interpretation among members.

  5. Promote healthy dialogue on hermeneutical, theological, and practical issues that affect and shape the SDA Church, especially on the continent of Africa.

  6. Promote spiritual and intellectual atmosphere for fellowship and dialogue among members.

  7. Devise ways of reaching the elite who otherwise may not be reached through the conventional methods of evangelism with the message of the Bible.

  8. Establish links with other African Adventist Colleges and Universities, especially the Adventist University of Africa, in order to contribute articles for publication in their theological Journals. 

These objectives accurately describe the motivation of the founding fathers and pioneers. The earliest peoples who dreamed of the birth of AATA were two doctoral students: The late Julius M. Muchee (a Kenyan) and Michael O. Akpa (Professor and Deputy Provost of Graduate Studies, Babcock University). During an evening walk on campus back in 2002, they thought of a platform that could boost scholarship among the Africans in the diaspora and on the continent. In 2006, as the number of students who came to study at AIIAS from Africa increased, andthe desire to start discussing academic issues in a professional and formal setting became irresistible. The like-minded students unanimously expressed their will to found AATA. Among the founding fathers of this association included the following persons: Michael M. Sokupa (Associate Director, Ellen G. White Estate, USA), Michael O. Akpa (Associate Professor of New Testament, Jamaica), Daniel K. Bediako (Vice Chancellor, Valley View University, Ghana), Phodidas Ndamyumugabe, Daniel Berchie (Associate Professor of New Testament, Valley View University, Ghana) and Patrick E. Anani (Rector, Cameroon Adventist University, Cameroon). These scholars, who serve today in various capacities in Africa and around the world, inaugurated the association in May 27, 2007. On this date, the election of the first officers took place: Michael M. Sokupa was elected President. Simon Bwambale occupied the post of Secretary/Treasurer. Daniel K. Bediako was the editor, while Daniel Berchie was the Intellectual Affairs Director.

These doctoral students, who came from various parts of Africa, nurtured the early activities of AATA. Under their leadership, in August 05, 2007, the first AIIAS African Theological Forum was held in the then AIIAS Youth Room. Several people attended the forum. Significant papers were presented. Following this initiation, the desire to publish papers discussed during the forum was intense. In 2010, The Journal of AIIAS African Theological Association (JAATA) was established. It is now an online, printed, and peer-reviewed journal edited and reviewed by scholars who hold doctoral degrees across the continent of Africa and regions beyond. It is the first journal of students, with peer-reviewed articles among Adventist institutions around the world. The purpose of this journal is to foster scholarship contribution primarily among the African and non-African students and academics. So far, several areas of studies have been covered: Health, Philosophy, New Testament, Old Testament, Church History, Applied theology, and Religious Education. Today, the journal totalizes 07 volumes. It has been evolving into an international academic publication under the leadership of various editors: Etoughe Anani Patrick (2010- 2011), Edwin Payet (2012-2013), Youssry Guirguis (2014-to the present).

AATA has been an influential academic center of learning. It has grown under different leaders. Among those who occupied the post of presidency include the following names: Michael Sokupa (2007-2008), Rabak Odek (2009), M. Oluikpe (2010-2011), Segorbe Rodolfo (2012), Patrick E. Anani (2013), Ekoto Christian (2014), Watson Mbiriri (2015-2017), Innocent Gwizo (2017-2018) and  Sanned Lubani (2018-to the present).

At the present, AATA is taking a new shape. The Forums have the participation of more scholars and leaders from the African continent. The vision now is to publish two journals each year, a book after each Forum, and writing books in honour of distinguished African Adventist scholars who have made significantacademic contributions. In the future, AATA hopes to hold a Forum on the continent of Africa. With the great support from the AIIAS administration as demonstrated in the leadership of Dr. Stephen Guptil, AATA is ready to bear witness of cardinal values of Adventist academic establishments.

Gabriel Masfa, PhD Candidate, Church History.

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