A Brief History
In the early 1970s when the number of Korean immigrants increased in Los Angeles area, some Korean church leaders in the area felt an immediate need to establish schools to train men and women for the rapidly sprouting Korean churches among the immigrants.
Dr. John Eui-Whan Kim, a church historian, seminary professor, and pastor of a fast-growing church, was one of those church leaders. Unlike his peers, however, who went on their way to open schools to provide theological education for Korean-immigrants in their mother tongue, John Kim was inspired by the dream of world mission and decided to establish a seminary for international students from Third World countries. After sharing his vision with the elders of his church and ensuring support from some of them, his dream was effectuated in the founding of International Theological Seminary in 1982 as a venture of faith.
His intense desire to launch such a unique theological seminary was motivated by the conviction that trained national church leaders would be far more effective in many tasks to which foreign missionaries were normally assigned, such as evangelism, church growth, church planting, and others. To date, ITS has graduated over 1,000 students in all of its academic programs, most of whom have returned to their home countries.
ITS invites proven community leaders from developing nations to come to the United States for specialized theological and missional training. Outstanding ITS faculty provide theological and leadership training grounded in cross-cultural ministry. With the theological education and formation received at ITS, our graduates are uniquely qualified to return to their home countries equipped with exceptional ministerial leadership.
Trained local leaders serving their own people bring inherent credibility and unparalleled impact. ITS students have lived, walked, and served as leaders in their countries and are intimately acquainted with the culture, language, challenges, and opportunities of the communities they serve. Their passion to share the Good News of Jesus Christ is expressed in compassionate, culturally-relevant ministries. ITS graduates represent over 30 countries around the world including Indonesia, India, Nepal, China, Korea, and many other countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
MEET THE TEAM
International Theological Seminary
board of trustees
James S. Lee
James S. Lee, Ph.D., is president of International Theological Seminary. He began his term on January 1, 2014. Prior to assuming the presidency, Dr. Lee was a resident professor of Old Testament at ITS. He was previously dean of academic affairs at Presbyterian Theological Seminary in America. President Lee’s commitment to global ministry grew early on when he traveled to churches in Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, and Russia as a high school student. His steadfast prayer for a life vocation in global missions is answered in this most unexpected call to lead an institution preparing Christian leaders for a multitude of nations. He considers his role as president, his scholarly inquiry, and teaching ministry as extensions of a deep and abiding desire to be a part of God’s redemptive work in the world.
Dr. Lee is married to Dr. Charlene Jin Lee. They have three children, Katherine, Frances, and Harold.
The faculty who serve ITS are dedicated to providing a theological education that is committed to rigorous academic inquiry, spiritual formation, and the vocational discernment of students. They are thoughtful scholars, pastors, and practitioners in ministry who understand their teaching vocation as a called ministry and share the vision of equipping leaders for the global church.