The history of the School from 1936 to 1996 is contained in Dr Noel Gibbard’s book: “Taught to Serve: The History of Barry and Bryntirion Colleges” (1996) (Bryntirion Press). There was a connection with the 1904-05 Welsh Revival, in that one of the leaders, Rev R B Jones of the Rhondda Valley, established a Bible institute in Porth and employed Rev B S Fidler as one of his tutors. Rev Fidler established a Bible College in Barry, 10 miles west of Cardiff, in 1936 – a few years after the death of Rev Jones. It was originally called the Barry School of Evangelism and was evangelical and interdenominational but did not embrace reformed teaching until the 1960s, particularly when Rev John Waite was appointed and it became an interdenominational free Bible school. The qualification achieved by both male and female students was its own Bible study diploma.
Evangelical Theological College of Wales (ETCW) (1985-2006)
The Evangelical Theological College of Wales was formed as a new independent Bible college in 1984 and became functional in September 1985 at Bryntirion House, Bridgend. Dr D Eryl Davies took up his appointment then and became Principal. ETCW had its genesis in discussions between the trustees of the South Wales Bible College, Barry and the Evangelical Movement of Wales. In response to demand, a research degree was made available in 1988 and a Diploma in Higher Education (1992) and BA (Hons) (1993) course in Theological Studies, all validated by the University of Glamorgan. The Master of Theology (MTh) course was introduced in 1996 and the MA in
Pastoral Studies in 2000. In 1999 the BA course became available by distance learning. The College’s own teaching staff devised, wrote, taught and assessed all the courses taught, subject to external moderation. In time all theological degree courses were validated by the University of Wales, Lampeter. In 1985-86 there were 22 students. By 2004-05 there were 130.
Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST) (2006-current)
Dr Eryl Davies retired as Principal in 2005 (and took up the post of Head of Research). The new Principal was Rev Jonathan Stephen. The following year the name change took place – WEST was more memorable and “School” worked better internationally than “College”. The Binary Course, (Graduate Diploma and MA Theology in Contemporary Church Leadership) was introduced in 2007. The School has continued to grow and in 2012-2013 had 130 students.
SaRang Thomas Centre
One of the most visible signs of the partnership between Sarang Community Church in Korea and WEST is the recently completed Sarang Thomas Centre, named after the church and Robert Jermain Thomas the 19th century Welsh missionary and martyr to Korea. The building provides WEST with a permanent meeting hall capable of seating 200 people plus four high specification teaching/meeting rooms, and represents the ambition of both Sarang CC and WEST for growth, mission and Christian development through theological education.