In the early 1990’s, Dr. Philip Schmuki, a missionary with OMF International in Mindanao, had a vision to start an interdenominational graduate theological school to train church and mission leaders in Mindanao. A group of leaders from different mission agencies, churches and para-church groups began to meet in 1992 to discuss the feasibility of starting a seminary here in Davao City.
One driving force for this vision was the reality that many leaders, sent to Manila for training, were not returning to Mindanao after their studies. Many took up roles within Metro Manila churches or para-church organizations. Koinonia Theological Seminary (KTS) was a bold new venture for these men and organizations with the vision to enable Christian leaders to study at the graduate level and yet remain in ministry.
There was no interdenominational graduate level theological study program within Davao City or in all of Mindanao. These first leaders represented a multi-national, interdenominational, inter church and para-church cooperative effort. Yet their efforts were truly a faith venture since there was no guarantee of support or of students.
When KTS finally incorporated early in 1993, its mission was “to train Christian leaders at the graduate level in the greater Davao City area and Mindanao region.”
After many meetings and much discussion over a period of one year, five groups decided to pull their resources together and to register the school as Koinonia Theological Foundation in 1993. In time it became legally known as Koinonia Theological Seminary Foundation, Inc. (KTSFI).
The first subjects were offered early in that year in modular or short-course formats. Dr. Philip Schmuki was chosen as the first president of KTSFI. The objective of the seminary was to train leaders towards reproducing maturity — helping men and women gain a practical application of biblical wisdom and truth, not just to help students acquire academic knowledge.
The goal of the Seminary was to partner with the local church in the equipping of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12) by focusing on:
Spiritual Growth: KTSFI would help believers mature in their love for God—a love that would flow into service and intimate relationships.
Academic Growth: KTSFI students would master skills that would enable them to understand and apply biblical truth.
Ministerial Growth: Within KTSFI, there would be a process of discovery and development of the God bestowed gifts given to each one for effective ministry.
“Introduction to the Bible” was the first course offered in January 1993 in the original rented facility located along Magallanes Extension, Davao City. The class was taught by Professor Pabs de Leon. Later on in 1993, other faculty members and staff joined the work, including Frank Pardue and David Nichols. A year after that Dr. Jack Benzenhaffer and and his wife Pat joined the faculty team where Jack became the next Seminary President 1995-November 2005.
Dr. Frank Pardue served as the President from December 2005-February 2006. Rev. David Nichols also served as the Seminary Director until 2006. Moreover, there were Interim Seminary Directors who also served KTSFI such as Dr. Bruce Adema and Dr. Emo Yango. During this time KTSFI has been accredited by two major theological associations; Asia Theological Association (ATA) and the Philippine Association of Bible and Theological Seminaries (PABATS). The challenge that remained for KTSFI was to have a full time Filipino President as required by the government. As KTSFI waits, Mr. John Y. Gaisano, Jr., a Filipino, served as the President while Dr. Chul Woo Lee, a Korean OMF missionary, served as the Seminary Director from 2006-May 2011. In the year 2008, KTSFI received its recognition from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) for its two Academic Programs; Master of Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Arts in Theology MATh) with focus on Missiology. During this time God also sent three full time Filipino Faculty and Administrators. Dr. Ernel Gallaza, Academic Dean; Dr.Sam Bustamante, M Div Director and Dr. Julie Bustamante, MA Theology Director.
Starting March 23, 2011, Dr. Fred Adams served as the OIC, with Dr. Julie R. Bustamante as the Acting Operations Manager starting June 2011. On October 5, 2011, Dr. Fred Adams also served as the Interim Academic Dean. On January 24, 2012 to February 28, 2013, Dr. Julie was appointed as the Interim OIC. On February 5, 2013 to present, Dr. Julie Bustamante was appointed as the Vice President for Operations/Seminary Director with Mr. John Y. Gaisano, Jr. still the President since 2006 to present.
After years of experimenting with different course formats KTSFI continues to standardized its semestral classes to fit the format of other CHEd accredited institutions. Consequently, KTSFI continues to offer modular courses each year and designs its class schedules to allow full time pastors, ministers and professionals to study while continuing their responsibilities outside the seminary.
Since 1993, KTSFI has grown in its ability to offer more courses under more qualified Filipino and expat professors. Moreover, the seminary has produced 86 graduates from the various Academic programs from 1993 to 2015. Some of its alumni became leaders in their own denominations, seminaries, schools and mission organizations. Now that it has acquired its own property, one of its long term goals is to transfer to a more expanded and improved campus facility. Hopefully, this year 2015, this goal will be fully realized, by God’s grace and provisions.