West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS) started in April, 1989, when a group of Nigerian and expatriate Christian leaders met to consider the needs of the Church in Nigeria and in particular to determine how to provide sound theological training to as many pastors as possible.
Led by Rev. Dr. Gary S. Maxey of the US, the group moved quickly to establish a strong, academically competent, nondenominational theological seminary, now known as WATS.
For its first twelve years the seminary (first known as Wesley International Bible College, and later as Wesley International Theological Seminary—and since 2001 as WATS) was located in Owerri, Imo State, in eastern Nigeria.
The growth of WATS has been significant since it first opened its doors. Across the years more than 1,000 pastors have graduated, and more than 10,000 have received training. Because WATS is Interdenominational, it has attracted students and ethnic groups from a broad spectrum of churches, language groups and countries. At any given moment WATS has students from at least:
- Thirty of Nigeria´s states,
- Over forty native languages,
- Six or more other African countries, and
- Well over eighty different church groups.