Six Months On…

February 24th, 2015

We have now been operational in our Amsterdam for the past six months or so. The relocation of the library and set up of the offices taking place in August 2014. In the following months set up issues continued to demand a lot of time an attention. Simple things can suddenly become BIG – e.g. when you discover that the computers have been set up in a language you don’t speak! In some ways it seems longer than six months and at other times less.

Despite all that has been going on, building on the past with the support of previous and new colleagues a lot have been achieved in circumstances which can only be described as ‘complex change’.

Anna Robbins led the Acadia D Min teaching weeks in August 2014

Anna Robbins led the Acadia D Min teaching weeks in August 2014

Starting in August we first hosted the Acadia D Min intensive teaching weeks led by Anna Robbins.

This programme is one which we run in partnership with Acadia and offers high quality biblical, theological, and practical reflection suited to the tasks of ministry. The way which it is run also offers a genuine international experience. So it is worth making known. Please contact for information.

 

 

 

Following this we hosted in August/September a three week intensive teaching block for students undertaking our MA Degree with Manchester University or our Post-Graduate Certificate in preparation for PhD studies.

Students from Ghana, Cuba, Croatia.

Students from Ghana, Cuba, Croatia.

This MA programme has some considerable flexibility in delivery and while involving some intensive teaching block attendance also has some distance learning options. Please contact for information.

The second week of this teaching period included our first PhD graduation (Promotion) from the Free University (VU)a day in which several of us including the successful student Jon Hardin got dressed up for the occasion…

First IBTSC graduation at VU

First IBTSC graduation at VU

 

 

 

 

 

Curtis FreemanIn November we hosted the Hughey Lectures with Curtis Freeman followed by a well attended conference on Convictional Theologies. The Lectures were held at the VU and the conference in our own premises with lunch being provided for participants. Papers will follow later in the Spring/Summer published in our Journals in order to disseminate some of the research and thinking that is going on.

Nancey Murphy As well as Curtis Freeman we were please to welcome Nancey Murphy to this event as a contributor and were grateful for the of signed copies of the latest collections of McClendon’s works from which she read by way of recollection.

 

 

 

Then in January 2015 we held our annual research degrees colloquium attended by students and staff from around the world. Thinking HardThis included much valued input from Professor Pete Ward PeterWard01smallfrom Durham University .

 

 

 

 

With all these events the first six months has been fairly hectic. At times I am frustrated with a range of things we have not yet got done but when I stand back I am nothing but grateful to our colleagues, supporters, and God for all that has been achieved. The coming few months do not have quite the same intensity in terms of events but are required to allow us to develop supportive administrative systems and methods suited to our location and continue to sort out details like…who do you call when the mini-bus breaks down? In turn for me these months give the time to strategize beyond the immediate.

We are now moving firmly into our first full year of activity – January to December which will allow us to see what it is like to operate fully in our new context. Wwe remain grateful for your interest and support in IBTSC as we seek to provide research, researchers, and leaders which can aid the mission and ministry of churches in Europe and beyond.

 

 

CMU Ministers Conference

February 14th, 2015

Over the past week I have completed an introductory talk  https://politurgy.wordpress.com/2015/02/ and a series of three bible studies at the ministers conference hosted by the Canadian Mennonite University.

CMU Campus

CMU Campus

On the Tuesday night I  attended a fascinating panel discussion on “Where did we lose you?” which involved a panel discussion on the declining participation of ‘millennials’ in Canadian churches. The panel participants were all of this age group born some time after 1980 and represented a number of church traditions and indeed none in that one panel member was an avowed atheist but with a concern for the life of the church! A question which this posed for me is when and where in our Baptist contexts are we creating such space for discussion, including a variety of voices, and attracting such a large turn out of interest?

On Thursday I participated in an oral communication class to discuss issues of persuasion concerning when and where persuasion becomes manipulation and coercion and as such does violence to others. This was a followed by a radio interview for a programme on radical change in the church where I was questioned on some of the statements I had made in the bible studies and discussions. One such issue was whether it was more important that the Church understands what others think about God or whether it is more important that he Church knows what it thinks about God. Of course both are important but if one is to be given priority I think it is what the church thinks about God. This is the ‘ground’ from which we can evaluate other belief and in turn our own. I also think that it is our own beliefs which if they are convictions which will most shape our own behaviour and response…anyway that is something of the flavour.

Engaging in Discussion

Engaging in Discussion

On Friday I preached at chapel on the theme: “I don’t want to be good” … as for the sermon…we you had to be there…then I had a meeting with some of the theology faculty talking about IBSC programmes.

We have also been kindly hosted throughout this last week by friends and faculty members at CMU – so thanks to all…

Canada

February 9th, 2015

I am presently in Canada to participate in a ministers conference organised by the Canadian Mennonite University. It seems to me that there is a strong resonance in the reading of Baptist via McClendon/Stassen or just plain old anabaptist roots with Mennonites, although I am leaning what a varied group that they like we actually are.

As part of my trip I attended the launch of this book which offers some fascinating insights and may well make a contribution to the thinking of those who wish to come at issues from an Anabaptist (dare we say baptistic) perspective and yet engage with wider society and its institutions. I have bought a copy but know that both Parush and the library will want one also.

toward an anabptist political theology

We have a number of students presently studying with us at IBTSC who come from a Canadian Mennonite background. At present they are all Mennonite Brethren rather than the Mennonite Church. CMU serves both groups.

As part of the trip I will have the opportunity to meet with the theology faculty at CMU and I hope that in the future collaboration at various levels between IBTSC and CMU on a broad shared common ground of ‘baptist’  will be possible.

I have also been struck by the way in which “donors” will support specific research into issues of church ministry and mission providing the finances for CMU staff to carry out the research. I hope that this is something that IBTSC as a research centre will be able to encourage in the future – specific financed projects of relevance to the mission and ministry of the church, supported by those who think that such issues are important, and carried out with the skills and personnel and academic credentials that IBTSC can bring to the task. Such a linking of the interests of the church in practice and IBTSC as a research centre into practice is something I am very keen to develop. In turn the emphasis on ethnographic research as a theological project is one that can provide a theological as well as a sociological approach for such research. This potential excites me as part of the IBTSC vision of providing research, researchers, and leaders who can serve the church in Europe and beyond.

Dreaming – perhaps rather than us simply having students come to us with their ideas church based individuals, organisations, unions, would finance projects of interest to them where we could then seek out and support individuals who have already shown some ability in an area (perhaps through a Masters) to carry out specific research that becomes their PhD  project.

I know that sometimes people think that when ‘academics’ go on such trips that they are spending all their time at the beach rather than working – and I confess that this weekend I was on the beach at a lake near Winnipeg…STA41723

Colloquium Amsterdam 2015 continued

January 23rd, 2015

STA41712Today (Thursday) we were introduced to some developed proposals. One of these relates to Baptist responses to anti-Semitism and persecution of Jewish people. We heard also of three new proposals two from students from Ukraine and one from the Czech Republic. Purpose of the presentations is to allow students to get feedback and sharpen focus and methodology. Lots of fascinating ideas and worthwhile proposals with a contextual and often missiological concern. It was great to have the Randall’s join us for a couple of days.STA41713STA41714STA41715

Freedom and Person: Research Colloquium 2015

January 22nd, 2015

STA41705Over the past few days at the research colloquium in Amsterdam students have been presenting an update on their studies. Some are at the beginning of their studies seeking a focus and methodology to carry their work forward. Others are facing the challenges of writing and rewriting. All students are part time and doing their work while sustaining ministries in churches and colleges. The geographic range of students is wide. As part of the colloquium we also have various seminars for students and staff. Here Dr Tim Noble is presenting a piece of recent research on ‘Freedom’ drawing some theological links between Russian Orthodox Theology and Liberation Theology. The paper as ever was followed by questions, discussion, and a bit of debate. As the pictures will show Dr Andrew Kirk and Dr Jim Purves were ready to engage engage after thoughtful consideration!

 

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Colloquium

January 9th, 2015

IBTSC Amsterdam is preparing to host its first research colloquium in the Postjesweg 175 premises from 19th till the 30th of January 2015.

This colloquium is when our research students gather from around the world to present the updates on their work and receive peer and team tutor feedback. It also gives them a chance to meet and discuss their specific research with their supervisors from IBTSC and their promoters from VU.

As a trial run the annual colloquium was held very successfully last year already in Amsterdam but this will be the first year in terms of operating as IBTSC Amsterdam.

At present we have 22 students registered with the VU with several others recently having had their proposals accepted and in the final stages of completing the registration process. A number of these and others at earlier stages of registration will attend and participate in the colloquium as part of the process of shaing their proposals and beginning their research work.

In addition to our VU students a number of our completing students with the University of Wales will attend and two will have their viva’s during this period with internal and external examiners participating.

One of these external examiners is  Professor Pete Ward, St John’s College/Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University.PeterWard01small

Pete is very well known for his research and writing in areas of Christian youthwork, culture, and more recently in relation to ethnography and theology.

Since he is going to be present at the time of the colloquium he has agreed to address the colloquium on this recent area of research interest.

It is the inclusion of this and other activities which means that the research colloquium is not simply about reporting on research but actually provides students and staff the opportunity to develop in their own learning and networking with other scholars.

 

 

Season’s Greetings

December 16th, 2014

Christmas Greetings

IBTSC Amsterdam hosts Convictional Theologies Conference

November 18th, 2014

Immediately following our Hughey Lecture series delivered by Curtis Freeman IBTSC Amsterdam hosted a conference on ‘Convictional Theology’. This conference sought to critically reflect upon the work of Baptist theologian James Wm. McClendon who has been described as ‘the preeminent progressive Baptist theologian of his era’.

McClendon 1Following the intentional trajectory of his 3 Volume Theology (should it be called systematic?) the contributors presented and discussed issues of Ethics, Doctrine, and Witness.

During the three day Conference which took place in November we were pleased to welcome visitors and contributors numbering between 20 and 40 people per day. Those who attended came from throughout Europe and America.

The conference was started by Professor Nancey Murphy, the late McClendon’s wifeNancey Murphy talking about McClendon’s life and work and reading from Volume 1 and 2 of the recently published Collected Works of James Wm. McClendon.  We were of course delighted to receive from Nancey copies of these volumes for the IBTS Centre library contributing further to our material on what can be described as ‘convictional theology’.

 

 

 

Two of our MA students in the Baptistic Histories and Theologies programme attended the conference and were able to integrate their learning and experience into the unit on Baptistic Theological Perspectives which they studied at the centre the following week.

For some attending ‘convictional theology’ represented a different ‘tradition’ to their own, for some it was something to contest, for others an introduction, and for many an opportunity to revisit not only the value of this tradition but its future potential.

Papers from the conference will be published in the future in the Journal of European Baptist Studies. This Journal and its sister Journal can be ordered from IBTS Centre.