ProMETA was created in 1998 as a project of the International Mission of the Evangelical Free Church of America. For a number of years, there was a growing sense in the region of a need to create an equipping institution for the region which provided high quality teaching in theological studies for Spanish-speaking leaders, The name of the project at that time was the Latin American Training Network (LATN). A qualitative study carried out in 1998 and 1999 by ProMETA staff provided the basic theoretical and empirical bases on which the decisions were made regarding the level of needs to address and the programs and curriculum to be developed. Thus, ProMETA was born as a theological institution of higher education (graduate level), designed specifically for the influential leaders and gatekeepers of Latin American evangelical churches. As a response to the overwhelming challenges faced by those who needed advanced training, the decision was made to use technology to make the study programs more accessible and to create virtual learning communities that would span the region. Even though there were good seminaries in the region, they were not accessible to many leaders who needed the high-level training these seminaries offered.
The data from the qualitative study led ProMETA leaders to create two masters’ programs, one in Contextualized Biblical Theology and the other in Christian Leadership. In 1999 and 2000, the first families moved to San Jose, Costa Rica to set up the office and begin developing courses. In August 2002, the first online courses were offered combining the use of materials on CD with internet tools. In subsequent years, over 20 online courses were developed. Initially, many ProMETA students were recruited to take courses and provide valuable feedback. However, by January 2006, the leadership team was confident that the program was solid and thus the invitation to enroll in ProMETA’s programs was extended to the general public. In 2007, ProMETA was approved as a nonprofit educational association in Costa Rica and became an interdenominational theological education institution with its own Costa Rican legal identity.
In November 2012, ProMETA signed an agreement with the South African Theological Seminary which gives international academic recognition of the masters’ programs. This was a great blessing for ProMETA and its students. In 2014, a second institution, the Universidad Seminario Evangélico de Lima, became the first institution in Latin America to give academic recognition to ProMETA’s masters’ programs.
After 12 years of developing online courses and evaluating the learning process, on October 6, 2014, ProMETA implemented substantial changes to enhance the student’s learning experience without undermining the quality of the programs. The most significant of these changes were the following: the online learning platform, Moodle, was replaced by a new learning platform, Sakai; the two masters’ programs were reconfigured (one of them with two emphases); the number of credits for the majority of courses were reduced from three credits to two credits per course; the length of the terms was reduced from a four month term of 15 weeks to a term of eight weeks, and the number of credits required for graduation was modified from 59 to 46 credits. A highly focused philosophy of education has been developed along with the creation of a new taxonomy for learning objectives that embeds spiritual formation in each course designed for the program. These changes continue to be in alignment with the academic standards required by the institutions which recognize ProMETA’s programs.
Over 30 staff, missionaries and nationals, serve in ProMETA. The staff represents five mission organizations and over 10 evangelical churches. This dedicated staff is committed to offering the Spanish-speaking Church the best option for excellent, personalized, online study, guided by four central values: accessibility, community, transformation and collaboration.