Who we are

“Our Mission is to train dedicated Christian leaders, in an urban setting, for the Church-in- Mission by providing quality tertiary education that is Evangelical, Holistic and Contextual.”

The Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa (ESSA) is a committedly evangelical institution of Higher Education in South Africa. Our focus is to equip men and women with tools and attitudes needed to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in church, ministry and life. We are evangelical, multi-racial, multi-denominational, non-sexist, contextual and academically credible at tertiary level.

History of the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa

The Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa (ESSA) is a committedly evangelical institution of Higher Education in South Africa. It was founded 1980 with the aim of offering high quality theological education to those who didn’t have access to theological training on that level. Today ESSA is still pursuing that goal, although times have changed drastically.

ESSA has seen the usual number of ups and downs in the past 33 years. A serious leadership crisis in 2008 has led to a reduction in staff from 20 to 5 full-time staff members by mid-2010. The Seminary has been de-registered in 2011 due to financial audited statements not being submitted to governmental departments on time. While the academic standards had been superb and ESSA’s 3 qualifications (BTh, DipTh and HCertTh) had just been re-accredited in 2010, the administrative aspect of the Seminary had been in need of attention. In beginning of 2012 the Seminary had a total of 630.000 Rand in combined debts.

Remaining staff members and a renewed council have committed themselves to re-build the Seminary into an institution that will, once again, serve the church and God its Lord by preparing men and women for ministry and mission in Africa and beyond through a new mode of instruction which is relevant and affordable and allows for stronger integration with local churches and congregations.

In May 2013 the combined debts have been cleared and, probably for the first time in its history, the Seminary was debt free and showed a positive balance in the bank account. The financial statements have been audited and administration is back on track again. Academic accreditation is sought again for January 2015 where ESSA is preparing to offer a BTh programme in a block-release model.

ESSA’s governing Council

Mrs. Pat Bruce

Mrs. Pat Bruce

Mrs Pat Bruce; Director, Chairperson of the Council





D. Bill Houston

D. Bill Houston

Dr. Bill Houston; Director, Treasurer
Bill Houston BA. BSc. MTH. D Min. has spent the last 25 years in theological education having lectured for 6 years in England at All Nations Christian College before joining the staff at ESSA in 1992. For five years before retiring in 2010, he visited some 40 evangelical colleges in sub-Saharan Africa as a consultant on behalf of the Overseas Council International. This unique overview of trends in Africa led him to write two papers which are to be published shortly; ‘The Future is Not What it Used To Be: changes and choices facing theological education in Africa’ and ‘What is Quality in Theological Education?’ Bill has been married to Joan for 41 years and they have three adult children.

He is currently a visiting lecturer on the D Min programme of Africa International University in Nairobi.

Dr. Rowanne Marie

Dr. Rowanne Marie

Mrs Rowanne Marie; Director

Rowanne Marie is from the Full Gospel Church, and is married to Pastor T S Marie. Together, they have a vibrant, active church life and they are involved in ministry at all levels.
Rowanne is a graduate and former lecturer of ESSA, where her key responsibility was heading up the Church and Development Programme. Rowanne is currently employed by the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary as their Registrar and Head of Foundation and Development Department. She also brings to the Methodist Seminary experience in Accreditation and Registration of Private Higher Institutions. Rowanne has also lectured at UKZN and has been involved in the student supervision.
Dr. Rowanne Marie has concluded her PhD programme in the field of Theology and Development (with a particular focus on Gender and Development), where her passion lies. Her underlying principle is that people are agents of their own development so do everything possible to empower them!

Rowanne and her husband have been married for 20 years and have an only son.

Mrs Kristy Sankey-Hicken; Secretary of the Council
Since January 2012 officially known as Kristy Sankey-Hicken but most simply know her as Kristy.
Kristy is an ex-ESSA student who went onto ESSA’s Graduate programme and then became a part time lecturer (Study skills, Greek, Intro to NT, and then some) Kristy has an Honors degree in Biblical studies.

She is currently the Personal Assistant to the circuit superintendent of her denomination.
Kristy is married to Robert Hicken, who has lecturerd courses at ESSA as well.

Beatrice Okyere-Manu

Dr. Beatrice Okyere-Manu (Okyere-manv@ukzn.ac.za) is a Lecturer and the Discipline Coordinator of Applied Ethics in the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her research interests cover the following areas: Professional Ethics, Environmental Ethics, African Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Ethics, Ethical issues Affecting African Women. She is a member of Globethics.net, the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, and Theological Society of South Africa.

Dr. Beatrice

ESSA’s Management body


The Principal position is currently vacant. The governing body is hoping to appoint a Principal as soon as the future becomes clear but is not accepting applications at this current stage.

Mr. Hennie Storm

Mr. Hennie Storm

Mr. Hennie Storm; Finance Director

Hennie has begun his career with the Free State Provincial Government where his task, among others, became “Implementing Financial Administration systems at schools and educating personnel on financial related issues”. After 13 years he moved on into the corporate sector until he accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour.

He quit his job, sold his franchise and moved to Cape Town to study theology. After graduation Hennie felt a call to ministry and pastored a church in the Natal midlands.

In June 2012 God created a “coincidence” where Hennie was mentioned to a staff member at ESSA. One thing led to the next and he agreed to become involved with the Seminary on a voluntary basis for 3 months. This time was supposed to give both parties enough time to find out whether or not they wished to become involved.

As of 1st October 2012 a part-time contract was signed, appointing Hennie Storm as Financial and Admin director. The debt reduction of 2012-2013 and subsequently stable financial position of the seminary would not have been possible without his strict but fair financial oversight. We are gratefult o Hennie for having lead us where we are now and safeguarding that mistakes of the past are NOT repeated.

Hennie and Kim live in Pietermaritzburg with their two young boys.

Mr. Johannes Klapprodt

Mr. Johannes Klapprodt

Mr Johannes Klapprodt; Academic Dean

Johannes spent his early years in the Philippines where his parents were planting and growing churches as missionaries. Johannes returned to Germany in 1983 and did his matric in 1993. He began an apprenticeship as a car mechanic and graduated in 1996.Johannes met his wife-to-be during a humanitarian aid mission to post-civil war Croatia. He was called up for military service in the same year and signed up for 4 years, including a tour of 5 months in Bosnia-Herzegovina as Weapons Inspector with NATO Peacekeeping Forces.

In 1999 Johannes and Christine got married and he was honourably discharged from the Army in 2000. Johannes and Christine a German Bible College for a BTh degree after which an MA degree in Missions & Church Growth followed. After graduation in 2005 they began an internship with a church in northern Germany which was extended into a part-time pastoring position. All the while both pursued a calling to the mission field. Between 2006-2008 Johannes ministered as part-time junior pastor, part-time truck driver and part-time missions secretary, raising support and preparing for ministry in South Africa.

In 2008 Johannes and Christine were seconded to ESSA by VDM (Vereinigte Deutsche Missionshilfe) and relocated their family to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa where he joined ESSA as junior lecturer. Due to challenging times at the Seminary a number of staff members resigned and Johannes over time was tasked with additional duties such as publicity, chaplaincy, fieldwork coordinator, student affairs and others.

The Seminary lost its accreditation in 2011 and the governing body approached Johannes with the mandate of “driving the turnaround strategy”. This mandate included the three goals of regaining financial stability, redesigning (and gaining accreditation) of the academic programme, and repairing the reputation of the Seminary. In order to work on this mandate Johannes was given the title of “Administrative Assistant to the Council” as the governing body was responsible for the process and Johannes was merely the executing or coordinating person on ground. Thanks to the enormous effort of a dedicated and committed staff ESSA managed to clear all debts by 2013 and submit applications to relevant government departments in 2014.

Toward the end of 2015 Johannes resigned from the position of Administrative Assistant as the mandate had expired with years end. The governing body appointed a Principal as of 1 February 2016 and Johannes is assisting with the hand-over process. As Johannes had been involved in designing the BTh in connection with the block release model the governing body felt it appropriate to appoint Johannes as Academic Dean. Johannes is currently registered for a doctorate at SATS. The field of his research is missiological training in South Africa.
Johannes and Christine live in Pietermaritzburg with their 3 boys, Jonathan, Micha and Timothy.

Partnerships and Relations

In past and recent years ESSA has entered into several formal and non-formal partnerships and relationships with institutions, ministries and partners. While the level of interaction may be varying all of these relationships have the common goal of equipping and preparing men and women to serve God where he needs them to be. The general attitude among these partners is one of non-competition and mutual assistance while maintaining structural autonomy and independence.

We value these relations and wish to express our deepest appreciation for their long-standing support and benevolence.



South African Theological Seminary

The South African Theological Seminary (SATS) was founded in 1996 for several reasons:

Firstly, our deep and continuing concern for the doctrinal integrity of the church. SATS has been established on a triune doctrinal foundation – The unique authority of the Word of God the Father, the lordship and centrality of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. These key doctrines are strongly promoted in all of our courses and programmes.

Secondly, to be a Seminary. This is a word that is often used to differentiate a Christian college from a secular university. It means ‘a place where things are grown’. In its traditional use it reflects the long held view that church leaders need to be taken out of their local churches into a sort of academic ‘hot house’ in order to grow. We believe that local churches are the real seedbeds for Christian education and training. We are therefore seeking to provide Christians with learning right where they are in the bosom of their church family.




Overseas Council International

God has called men and women to lead churches and other ministries around the world. We work with seminaries where these leaders are trained in God’s Word within their own culture, so they can best address the needs facing their churches and communities. Through a leader’s lifetime of ministry, God’s Kingdom is multiplied continuously, person by person, small group by small group, community by community.

Overseas Council by the Numbers









ESSA Christian Aids Programme

ESSA Christian AIDS Programme (ECAP) is a  project of the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa (ESSA), which was designed to respond to the
HIV and AIDS pandemic around the city of Pietermaritzburg.
The programme began with a notion of educating not just its own theological students but also local church congregations, pastors and their wives on the realities of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. The programme encourages and equips participants to develop a caring response in their own ministry contexts. It has been in operation for over 25 years. The work of ECAP was mainly concentrated in the black townships in the Pietermaritzburg area where HIV and AIDS was most prevalent but ECAP has now expanded its ministry into all of Natal as well as the Free State and the Eastern Cape . With the respect and confidence that pastors have within their own communities, the focus is on local congregations for HIV and AIDS education, training in care giving and empowerment, and networking with their local groups so that they will eventually initiate their own HIV and AIDS projects in their communities.




Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa

ACTEA primarily exists to offer accreditation and network & support services for theological education across the African continent. The central purpose of ACTEA is to assist evangelical theological institutions throughout Africa in their quest for excellence and renewal in their institutional operations and provision of quality educational programmes.

ACTEA is a ministry of  The Association of Evangelicals of Africa (AEA) having been constituted as a project of its Theological and Christian Education Commission (TCEC) in 1976. ACTEA offers accreditation service and network and support service for evangelical theological education in Africa. Since its founding in 1976, ACTEA has become widely accepted for its services to theological education on the continent. More than 150 theological colleges and programmes in Africa are now officially affiliated with ACTEA








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